Home » Childminding Best Practice Newsletter – Issue 22: Spring 2019

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter – Issue 22: Spring 2019

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Welcome to the Spring 2019 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.


Forest Childcare Association News and Stories

Crafts – Pelican Crossing Craft and Litter Bin in the Woods for Earth Day – free templates

Articles, blogs and information pages

Inspirational best practice

  • Escaping children
  • Loose parts
  • What would you do if this happened to you: unvaccinated children
  • Fact or myth: Ofsted expects you to write parent questionnaires

EYFS Paperwork, policy and legislation updates

  • Upcoming changes to the inspection system
  • Minimum wage increase

Free product updates

The next issue (Summer) will be coming out in June 2019

Thank you to everyone who sent in contributions to this newsletter. I welcome contributions from readers on all aspects of childminding best practice.

Happy reading!



Forest Childcare Association News


Don’t be put off taking Forest Childcare outings because of your own lack of knowledge about the “wild”. Frankly, even if you can’t identify an acorn, it doesn’t really matter. The woods are fun and the children will love the outdoors and benefit from weekly visits even if you can’t name a single wild flower you spot. You are not taking children to the woods to be their teacher so they can learn things. You are taking them there so they can EXPERIENCE nature.


Forest Childcare – marketing outdoor outings to parents – contributed by Jane Marriner

All of the parents were really pleased when I told them about joining the Forest Childcare Association. We’ve been going out twice a week to explore some brilliant places. The children have really loved their time exploring and I think they’ve been learning a lot.

I have always taken them outside for large parts of the day, but it’s been fab making it more adventurous and telling the parents to pack the correct clothing etc. to allow us to take full advantage!  Thank you very much for your great ideas and for making it a “thing” that we can use for marketing and to encourage the parents to let the children get dirty!


Free Wildlife Spotting Sheets and Information from CJ Wildlife – some really nice resources

This page has loads of free downloadable information sheets and colouring pages about different wildlife. A really great resource to accompany your Forest Childcare days.



Forest Childcare Facebook Page – join our online community

The Forest Childcare Association has its own Facebook Page. Please like my page and join in our discussions, share your photographs and enjoy the links, stories, crafts and activity ideas, photos and inspirational ideas we share.   

Bubbles in different seasons – contributed by Wardah Shahid from Walli’s Childminding Services

We had such a refreshing day at the biggest park in NorthWest. We headed to the park with a bag of our resources. Thanks to our rainsuits and wellies, we jumped in the puddles without the fear of getting wet, then we said hello to the lake family. We took bubble machine with us and noticed the difference between the bubbles in summer & autumn: in the summer the bubbles popped as soon as they touched the grass but today the bubbles settled on the grass as it was wet.

We had our choo choo out on the tram track (the tram doesn’t operate in winter). We had snack at the park benches in front of the lake. And finally we made our dino world in the woods. A wonderful day out indeed. And Thanks to Forest Childcare Association for boosting up my confidence in outdoor exploration and learning whatever the weather!


Our trip to Windmill Hill city farm – contributed by Rebecca Furniss McGuire

Transient art on Forest Childcare trips

Transient art means ‘art that’s moveable’. Put simply, it’s the use of lots of materials to create a picture, pattern or structure using loose parts. Children are able to explore colour, texture and shape, knowing that there is no right or wrong result. The art you create is not intended to be permanent and the end product is less important than the ‘process’ of making it.

Transient art fits nicely with Forest Childcare trips because you will naturally encounter loose parts that you can use to create art while you are out and about. You can build with different coloured leaves, sticks, mud, water, pine cones, pine needles and rocks. Sometimes you may want to create designs and patterns. Other time, the fun is simply to draw with the stick in the mud or to arrange the pine needles into lines.

Making transient art while you are out and about together can be fun and collaborative which is great for personal and social development. You can tell parents you were doing ‘land art’ which is what artists call it when they do pictures with loose parts outside!

Process art projects allow you to observe the Characteristics of Effective Learning: ‘Creating and Thinking Critically (CT)’. Time spent in this way gives children the opportunity to explore their own ideas, to make links between ideas, and to choose the best way to do something. It builds children’s confidence and decision-making skills. In other words, if we give children lots of different materials to work with, the learning opportunities become endless, restricted only by the child’s own imagination.


Water adventures – contributed by Amy Morrall

So far we have enjoyed 26 forest childcare outings since joining. The children are fascinated with water, here’s some of our favourite water adventures!








Art and Activity Ideas


NEW: Childminding Best Practice Club – Themed Activity Packs emailed to you – £2.50 per month – April is Easter themed. May is Castles, Knights and Princesses

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 themed activities like these:

How the Childminding Best Practice Club helped me to get outstanding at my January inspection – contributed by Pennie Cowley

I was inspected by OFSTED at the beginning of January, now have a copy off the report, wanted to let you know how well the visit went and thank you for all your support through the Childminding Best Practise Club.

Our first activity was pencil control practise. I have laminated copies of all the pencil control sheets I have received as a member of the Club which the children draw on using felt tip pens, then wipe clean and either have another go or try a different one.

The inspector had asked that I do an assessment activity with the children during her visit. I wanted to do something maths based to show how I cover this in my setting and your Super Heroes bracelet activity was perfect.

I organised the children around the table and explained what we were going to do. The children took it in turns to roll the dice, count the spots and select the correct number of beads to thread onto their bracelet. I would love to say they were all fully engaged but real life doesn’t work like that…one of the children rolled a 6 on their first go and struggled to fit all the bead on the thread…lol. However this did give me the opportunity to show the inspector what I do if a child is finding an activity difficult and the child enjoyed playing with the bracelet I helped them to make. After the activity the inspector asked how I felt it had gone and I was honest about the one who had found it difficult and talked about what changes I would make next time.

The inspector then gave me her opinion on the activity and was very complimentary. She liked that it included LITERACY in writing down the powers and bead colours, she loved the measuring and counting (MATHS), she felt the children engaged well with it (COEL) and agreed that it would have been easier if my munchkin had not rolled a 6 first time 😝(MANAGING FEELINGS AND BEHAVIOUR)). She felt it gave the children opportunity to put forward their own ideas and to make choices (PSE and C&L).  It also covered the areas PHYSICAL, MOVING AND HANDLING and A&D in making the bracelets and UTW when we discussed fire melting ice when talking about the effects our Super Hero bracelets would have.

In the report she says…

“The childminder prepares children extremely well for school. For example, she encourages children to participate in daily activities to improve their pencil control and writing skills”.

 “The childminder promotes diversity”… Your diversity year planner was laminated and stuck on my fridge in addition to other resources around my home.

 “Superb teaching ensures children are fully engaged, attentive and highly motivated to learn. The childminder promotes mathematical development especially well. She utilises every opportunity to support children’s knowledge of number, shape, space and measurement.”

My lovely, lovely inspector then concluded by awarding me an OUTSTANDING rating.


Pelican Crossing Road Safety Art Project – free printable

For lots of the children of this age, pelican crossings are fun because they have the opportunity to press a button and make the traffic stop for them. As soon as they are able to differentiate between colours (from about 2 ½) they can be taught to look for the ‘little green man’. While children of this age are far too young to be allowed to ever attempt this without supervision, it is never-the-less the first step towards independence and gives the children a feeling of empowerment.

This song is really good for pelican crossings. It’s to the tune of ‘twinkle twinkle little star’:

Twinkle twinkle crossing light,

Standing on the corner bright.

When it’s red it’s NO NO NO,

When it’s green it’s GO GO GO.

Twinkle twinkle crossing light,

Standing on the corner bright.

Cut the traffic lights and red and green men out of coloured paper using the templates provided. Use red or green collage material to decorate a little green man and a red ‘stop’ man. Glue them back to back onto the card and hang them from the traffic light. As the mobile turns in the draft you can ask your child ‘can we go?’ and practice as if you’re on a real road. You can simplify this project for younger children by just colouring red and green pictures or by making red/ green collages.


Earth Day (22nd April) Project – litter bin – free printable

Litter bin in the woods – where does the rubbish go? Where do the swans go? What belongs in our natural environment and what shouldn’t be there? Use my free template with guided EYFS observations perhaps as a way to celebrate Earth Day on 22nd April?




Farm invitation to play set up – contributed by Jackie Taskas

This is made using fake grass. You can sign up to companies and ask for samples and you pay a small postage fee or some of them are free postage as well!! The front is corn flakes, the middle is porridge oats and then rice krispies on the side. The duck pond is a cut out piece of foam that I used from our singing time box. You could use chocolate cereal or Weetabix or food dye in cornflour and water put into a clear dish for a pig sty. Unfortunately I couldn’t on this occasion because of allergies.


Kay Woods Kids To GoArticles, Blogs and Information Pages



Information pages   

I continually add new information pages to this website. You can search for information, articles, links, and support by topic including:

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.


What are the biggest threats that childminders see to their businesses going into 2019?  

Real answers and reflections on business from real childminders here [more]


10 Mistakes Childminders Make on Parent Questionnaires

Sharing my latest article with you on ways to improve what you send [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.


Inspirational Best Practice – Ideas, Stories and Links



Escaping children

Ofsted have highlighted the number of children who have recently managed to escape from their childcare providers (including nurseries, pre-schools, out of school settings) as well as childminders. If you haven’t risk-assessed your house and outings recently, it is a good time to do so, to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you. Some points to consider for childminders:

  • Check that children can’t climb on your resources in your garden and use them to escape
  • During drop off and collection times, when one child is collected, could another one get out without you seeing?
  • Check children are never left outside in your garden unsupervised.
  • You should keep your front door and windows locked, keep the keys out of the front door and check that the children can’t open it.
  • Review your procedures on outings to ensure that children are kept safe.

Here are my free risk assessment forms you can use around your house and outings.


Sunflower craft and activity idea – contributed by Helen Cordingley

Love this idea from childminder Helen Cordingley and how she is linking the craft to her growing theme both in plants and in the children. “Just finished this with two three year olds. Now to plant the seeds! This is the start of a planting and growing term. Sunflowers to see whose grows tallest followed by food to eat. Measuring the children with a piece of string then again at the end of the summer to see how much they have grown. It will of course evolve as the weeks go on!”



Loose Parts – by Samantha Boyd


Loose parts is a term that is becoming more and more popular within education but particularly in Early Years settings and if you are looking to be more environmentally friendly, is a great way to recycle and reuse. So, what are loose parts and what benefit do they have to children’s play and development?

Loose parts are not toys, in fact they are the exact opposite. A toy has one purpose, to be what it was built for. It cannot be anything else. A loose part however, with a little imagination can be absolutely anything. Simon Nicholson created the theory of loose parts in 1971. He was an architect who believed that all children were creative, and that this creativity should be nurtured and encouraged, rather than suppressed by what adults believed children should be like. So, he tried giving open ended materials that could be used with imagination and become anything the child wanted it to become – they can become parts of construction, pattern forming, used in role play and social play, anything; and he was amazed by the imagination and creativity the children showed. Actively engaged children are resilient learners who can solve problems and think outside the box.

Some examples of loose parts:

Natural: shells, stones, wood chips, pine cones, leaves, feathers, seeds, flowers

Manufactured: buttons, boxes, fabric, ribbons, nuts and bolts, pegs, pipes, guttering, straws.

When using loose parts, children can follow their own agenda, their own learning. Set up invitations to play and see what the children can do. Trust the children to know. You may need to model how to use them. Many children are not sure what to do because they have not needed to use their imaginations in this way as toys and adults have told them what to do with things. So, allow the children to explore these objects. Ask parents to support you by asking for donations. You will be surprised at how supportive parents are.

What would you do if this happened to you: parents who won’t vaccinate their children? 

You have been approached by a family who don’t vaccinate their children. You know that some nurseries in your area will not take a child who isn’t vaccinated and you are not sure whether you should take the child or refuse. What would other childminders do in this situation? What should you do?

Here’s what other childminders say:

Makes no difference to me.


I have had 3 children over the years with no vaccinations, never been an issue.


I had one and I keep all parents informed of any illness in my setting and then it’s up to parent if they send.


Personally, I wouldn’t look after the kids without vaccinations. I know people who are immuno-suppressed. I also would take it as a big red flag in terms of whether I would be able to have an open and honest relationship with the parents.


I would not want to work with parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. I very much doubt that would end up being the only thing we disagreed over.


It’s only that child that is at risk as all the rest will be vaccinated! It is the parents’ choice!


I don’t allow children who are not up to date with vaccinations into my setting. It’s my choice, and it would potentially put babies in my care at risk. Not to mention not agreeing with the parents. I get to choose my clients, it’s one of the perks of being the boss!


I try to take an active role in educating parents about vaccinations. Preventable childhood diseases are coming back! I pick up the leaflets from my doctors and leave them on the side for parents to take. If they ask for advice I give it to them. I also remind them when I know they are due for injections. 


Tips for Outstanding Ofsted Inspections

If you want to get outstanding, then as well as having undertaking risk assessments of your house you need to demonstrate that you are teaching the children to learn how to manage risks for themselves. This is an essential skill, to learn to think about risks for themselves, rather than live in an environment that is so artificially safe that the children have no idea how to look after themselves. How do you achieve this balance in your setting?


Fact or Myth:  Ofsted expects you to send home parent questionnaires

Lots of childminders send home parent questionnaires because they believe that Ofsted wants them to. Childminders like using questionnaires because they are a great way to prove in writing that you are ‘communicating with parents’ and seeking their views about ways to improve your service. But before you sent them out, ask yourself WHY you are sending them? What is their purpose? What are you trying to achieve from the paperwork you are sending home and parents are spending their evenings diligently filling in?

There are lots of great reasons to send them home, but your Ofsted inspector them to improve your business. If you are just doing them to stick them in a file to show Ofsted then you are completely wasting everybody’s time. The Ofsted inspector doesn’t care that you have stacks of paperwork – they care about how you are gathering the views of others and acting on suggestions for improvement.

Used properly, parent questionnaires can be a great way to gather real insight into your business strengths and weaknesses. Remember to treat everyone’s time and effort with respect by not taking up too much of it, by taking a genuine interest in parents’ answers, by responding positively to any criticism you receive and by not overusing questionnaires.

Learn more about other mistakes that childminders often make when sending home parent questionnaires here so you can avoid them.


Caroline Cope’s garden


Thank you Caroline Cope for sharing with us these photos of your outside garden area. Encouraging small children to have a little plot of earth to take care of is a childcare idea that goes back centuries and has so many positive benefits to their development especially in developing the COEL. Even if you don’t have a big garden, a small patch of earth or even a patio tub is enough space to give children daily responsibility to look after something and watch it grow.


EYFS Paperwork, Policy and Legislation News



Upcoming big change: the new ‘Education Inspection Framework’ will be coming out in Sept 2019 to replace the Common Inspection Framework and the Early Years Inspection Handbook will be updated

Ofsted has set out its plans to overhaul the inspection system. The changes will affect how childminding inspections are judged so it is important that you stay informed of what changes. There are no proposed changes to the EYFS Statutory Framework.

More than ever the Characteristics of Effective Learning are going to be important. So if you’re not actively implementing the COEL in your setting now, this is a good time to get ahead of the game and get up to speed on how you can actively promote them in the children you care for.

The revised Education Inspection Framework will include a new judgement on the ‘quality of education, focusing on the curriculum, which replaces ‘teaching, learning and assessment’. Chief inspector Amanda Spielman says, ‘Our aim is to bring the inspection conversation back to the substance of education … so that inspection complements rather than intensifies a focus on achievement and progress measures… It is proposed that the new framework will no longer include the standalone “outcomes” judgement.’

This is a good article on the proposed changes from the Early Years Alliance:

If you want to read the draft documents and respond to the government consultation on them, you need to do so by the beginning of April here.


New Childcare choices – Flyer for Parents

To support parents and childcare providers to understand the different government childcare schemes and how they interact, cross-government have developed and published an infographic to simplify the full childcare offer. Please feel free to download it and share with your parents.


Childminders who employ staff – minimum wage and pension contributions are increasing from April 2019

New National Minimum Wage rates that will apply from April 2019:

£8.21 per hour for adults aged 25 and over – currently £7.83

£7.70 per hour for adults aged 21-24 – currently £7.38

£6.15 per hour for 18-20 year olds –  currently £5.90

£4.35 per hour for 16-17 year olds – currently £4.20

£3.90 per hour for apprentices – currently £3.70

The amount you have to pay for staff pensions is also going up. More info on pensions is here


Info from Ofsted: Childminders and childcare on domestic premises: registration

How to register if you want to look after children at home as a childminder, including what you need to do before you apply, fees, and working elsewhere for up to half your time.


Why are childminders leaving the profession?

In the context of a twenty-year decline in the number of childminders registered in London, The Family and Childcare Trust spoke to 16 people who were previously registered childminders working in London. Interviewees were asked about why people take up childminding, why they are leaving the profession, and whether the GLA (Greater London Authority) can take any steps to support and encourage childminders to remain in the profession.


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