Welcome to the Winter 2018 Childminding Best Practice Newsletter. I produce this newsletter four times a year to promote childminding best practice topics with a focus on safety, health, diversity awareness and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). I also use it to highlight any changes to legislation or policy that may affect your childminding business.
Scroll down to read the newsletter online, or download it as a PDF.
- Diversity Calendar for 2019
- Greener childcare
- Four mistakes to avoid when planning for 2019
- How to write a year plan for your childminding setting
The next issue (Spring) will be coming out in March 2019.
Thank you to everyone who sent in contributions to this newsletter. I welcome contributions from readers on all aspects of childminding best practice.
Members of the Forest Childcare Association commit to taking the children on an outdoor outing to a ‘wild’ place once a week – even in the Winter! I love seeing children all wrapped up running around outside on cold and frosty Winter days. So much better for everybody than being cooped up inside all day.
Footprints in the Snow – contributed by Suzanne Aldridge from Ashingdon, Essex
We thought you might like our snow themed woodland trail we made for our children to follow. We challenged them to count our snowy footprints! We made them by using a sieve and a cheap bag of flour sprinkled over our wellies! The children loved it and the treasure we’d hidden in a low tree where the footprints ended.
Standing still and listening in the woods – contributed by Peter Bradshaw
Despite the dreary weather we have managed to have regular trips to our local woods. With children ranging from 18months to 8 years we enjoy putting our wellies and waterproofs on and going for an adventure. We build dens, play hide and seek, play tig, go on a bear hunt, look for insects and bugs, and best of all splashing in muddy puddles and getting muddy. Sometimes we just stand still and listen to the birds tweetering away.
Lisa Chadburn – from Forest Childcare provider to Level 3 Forest School Practitioner
Lisa Chadburn talks about how she went from Forest Childcare provider to Level 3 Forest School Practitioner in this article she wrote for Pacey. Inspiring read.
The Forest Childcare Association has its own Facebook Page. Please like my page and enjoy the links, stories, craft and activity ideas, poetry, photos and inspirational ideas I share. Liking my page is a great (totally free) way to support the work of the Forest Childcare Association whether you are a member or not.
Childminding Best Practice Club – Themed Activity Packs emailed to you – £2.50 per month. December is ‘Christmas’ themed. January is ‘superhero’ themed.
Members of my new Childminding Best Practice Club are emailed a monthly pack of themed activities, plus activities that support continual professional development (CPD).Please join today to get templates and instructions for fun Christmas themed activities like these:
Here are some activities you can try at Christmas and over the winter.
I made this ice sculpture by leaving the frying pan full of water out overnight when it was below freezing. Just lay the items from your garden or winter walk on top of the water and it will freeze in place. You need to use a fairly sturdy piece of rope for one this size. I also made mini ones with tiny Tupperware pots and the kids hung them all over the trees.
I love these Christmas jumpers complete with mini hangers made by Bev Metcalf. Would make an ideal Xmas card.
Christmas display contributed by Leanne Povey
Articles, Blogs and Information Pages
I continually add new information pages to this website. You can search for information, articles, links, and support by topic including:
- New to childminding
- Continual Professional Development (CPD)
- Official document links
- Business tips for childminders
- Themes for childminding settings
Remember to “follow” my blog to receive articles by email. You just need to enter your email address. Please note that the blog is not the same as my newsletter.
Can you name 10 reasons childminders are better than nurseries?
If you can’t name 10 reasons that childminders are better than nurseries, then you shouldn’t be surprised when you lose business to them – article challenges you to look closely at how you promote what you do to parents to keep their business. [more]
Do you need to supplement the income you make from childminding?
Here are 15 jobs other childminders do to earn extra money alongside childminding [more]
Please Like me on Facebook
Please like and follow my Facebook page. I share inspection tips, craft and activity ideas, news stories affecting childminders, articles supporting best practice, legislation updates and some funnies. Liking my Facebook page is also a totally free way to support my small business and I really appreciate you taking the time.
Free downloadable one page Diversity Planning Calendar for 2019
Use this free downloadable calendar to plan to celebrate diversity with the children in 2019. The calendar includes the dates of some multicultural holidays, religious festivals for Britain’s three biggest religions (Christianity, Islam and Hinduism) and other big events with a diversity focus.
There are lots more events than these to choose from if you look for them on the web and it’s best where you can to adapt activities to the children you look after. Suppose you look after a Jewish or Sikh child? Talk to their parents for ideas then search on Google for ways to celebrate festivals that are important to them. Write them on this calendar so you remember to celebrate them.
What do you know about ‘dyspraxia’?
Download this free PDF from the Dyspraxia Foundation written especially for the Early Years.
Four mistakes to avoid when planning for 2019
As the old year ends and the new begins, it is a good time to stop for a moment and take stock of the learning journey- assessment- planning system you are using in your setting and check that they are suitable for your needs. Check that you aren’t making any of the following mistakes:
Remember that whatever system you are using for your planning needs to be usable by you every single week. The more complicated you make it, then less likely you will be to use your own system. If the system you are using is currently too complicated for you to maintain, then it may be time to try a new system.
Mistake 2. Creating planning documents that can’t be easily changed
Your planning system has to be flexible; it cannot be a series of documents set in stone. It has to be easy to make changes to and it has to be adaptable. If your system does not allow for change, then you have not got an effective planning system in place at your setting.
Mistake 3. Planning for your setting but not for each individual child
If the system you use works for your setting, but does not take into account the needs of different children in your setting, then your system needs a rethink. A planning system must work for your whole setting AND take into account the needs and interests of each individual child.
Mistake 4. Not linking your observations to your planning
All of the ‘next steps’ you record in your learning journeys MUST link into whatever planning system you are using. Writing observations and next steps into your learning journeys is pointless if you don’t have a method to put those ideas into your planning.
If the planning system you are currently using is too complicated, or makes any of the mistakes described here, you may want to simplify your planning in 2019 by looking at my Learning Journey Plus workbook which takes you step by step through creating a workable, flexible and ongoing planning system for your setting.
The Great Christmas Card Debate: How much help should you give childminded children on their Christmas cards?
I’m NOT going to do handprints again for my childminding Christmas present, I said firmly to myself as I stared at the blank calendar template. Because everybody knows that handprints aren’t really the children’s work. Ofsted would scoff and tut. Other childminders will criticise me when I post the photo of two cute little handprints pressed in place by ME, not them. So this year I’m going to let the children do it…
How do you feel about Christmas cards? Should you help children, or should it be all their own work? Read more about the Great Christmas Card Debate.
Shapes Activity – contributed by Sonia Wright
This is such a fantastic and simple idea. Thank you Sonia.
How to write a year long plan for your childminding setting
This article takes you step by step through writing a year long plan. This is a really useful guide especially if you haven’t done this before. Make sure you don’t miss anything.
Greener Childcare – contributed by Samantha Boyd
Following my last article, I have been progressing with my war against chemicals and plastic. This is an area that is getting more and more press since the Blue Planet series on the BBC and parents are certainly becoming more interested in.
As a setting, we have decided to try and become as plastic free as we can by the end of 2019. The biggest thing for me was disposable nappies. These are made with chemicals and plastic, take 200 – 500 years to decompose, and pose a health risk when dumped into landfill. So, we decided to supply our own nappies, and after a discussion with our parents, we started to investigate the best options. There were 3 options available: eco-disposable nappies; half and half nappies; and reusable nappies.
Eco-disposable nappies work like a standard disposable nappy. Dependent on the make they may use unbleached wood pulp to absorb urine, have a corn-based coating on the outside therefore reduce the amount of plastic used and may use renewable materials.
Half and half nappies are reusable cloth nappies that have a disposable insert for convenience.
Reusable nappies are washed and used again and again. The four main types are 1) all-in-ones; 2) pre-folds; 3) pocket; and 4) shaped. These are the most environmentally friendly but take the most effort and organisation as they need to be washed and dried. They are also the most economical, as they can be used for many years and you can buy bundles second-hand. As they mostly use fastenings such as poppers rather than safety pins they are as easy to use as disposables.
We decided to use a mixture of reusable nappies (as we were already using cloth wipes) and eco-disposable for our outings, for convenience. We were able to buy some sample packs of both for parents to look at and try out, and we made a joint decision on the type, style and makes before committing to buy – we then bought the reusable nappies second hand. This has been working very well for us for a couple of months now, but we will continue to monitor.
The next thing we chose to change was the use of cling film, as it can take up to 1000 years to decompose. Again, we discussed the options with our parents, as many of them supply sandwiches and snacks in cling film, and we wanted to make sure everyone was going to get on board with this change. We looked at several options and have ended up using a mixture of all of them. They are:
Bees wax cloths – material soaked in beeswax to make it pliable. These are washed in cold water and are great for covering food bowls.
Sandwich wraps – material with a plastic lining (not ideal but also not single use plastic) and a Velcro fastening. Keeps sandwiches fresh and can be used as a mat when eating.
Reusable snack pockets – made from material. Keeps snacks fresh and easy to grab and go. Also, washable. My favourite item.
Paper bags – we use these for the children to take things they have baked instead of plastic sandwich/freezer bags.
None of these were overly expensive and some you could easily make yourself if you are handy with a sewing machine or have a parent that is!!
If you are looking to make any of these changes yourselves, I would say get your parents involved right from the start. They are great at helping you make decisions about the right products and are also grateful for the information you give them to make an informed choice. At the end of the day, we all need to work together to ensure the planet is cared for, for future generations.
Tips for Outstanding Ofsted Inspections
Think about the educational programmes you offer to the children who attend your setting. Why are they outstanding? How might you improve them? Do you offer them to children of ALL ages who attend your setting? How will you demonstrate your educational programmes to the Ofsted inspector during your inspection?
Remember that getting outstanding means being MOSTLY ready for your inspection ALL of the time.
Musical Development Matters – new non statutory guidance publication
Musical Development Matters is a brand-new piece of guidance written to complement the current Development Matters document. The overall purpose is to support practitioners, teachers, musicians and parents to see the musical attributes of young children and to offer ideas as to how they can support and nurture children’s musical development. You can also find the free online accompanying resource here.
This publication from the Pre-School Learning Alliance is worth keeping if you are unsure how long to keep medical records, staff records or your daily register etc. I’ve added it to my Official Document Links page – so do bookmark that page so you can find the most up to date versions of all the reference documents childminders need.
Free Product Updates
There are no product updates at this time.
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