Welcome to the Spring 2020 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.
- Supporting learning at home
- How to make a waterwall
- Inspection reports
The next issue (Summer) will be coming out in June 2020.
Thank you to everyone who sent in contributions to this newsletter. I welcome contributions from readers on all aspects of childminding best practice.
Children who play outdoors a lot grow up with a greater awareness of environmental issues. Children are the future of our planet. If we want them to care about saving it, Forest Childcare trips are a great way to make environmental issues a part of their lives.
“It is a different experience for the children to see the ducks swimming around you” – contributed Fiona Crisp
I have always done lots of outdoors stuff so signing up to Forest Childcare was just a way of formalising things for me. I have used the certificates, logos, records of outings and will be using some of your wording when I update my polices/procedures/parent handouts etc.
Recently we have been to a nature trail – it has a brilliant double line of huge conifers which you can run down we call it the tree tunnel. I took photos so I can make my own scavenger hunt.
Fishing was a great trip and a bit different. I had three of them striding off down the muddy path holding their fishing nets. Then there’s a concrete bit they can sit on and dangle their legs off and dip their nets in the water. The water’s only less than 30cm deep at this point so not too great a risk! We found a newt but no fish this time.
We also went to a big park that as well as a paddling pool and sandpit also has a boating lake. I had my daughters helping (after doing their GCSEs and A levels) so we went out on the boats to see the ducks on the island. It is a different experience for the children to see the ducks swimming around you.
Woodland volunteers – contributed by David and Emma Murphy
I have attached a photo showing our latest woodland pursuit!. We contacted our local countryside ranger and have become volunteers at one of our local woodland and beach areas. The photo shows us with the Local Authority Countryside Ranger planting our first Elder tree! Our other activities will include beach cleans and removing microplastics from sieved sand. We have received positive responses from our parents regarding our latest venture!
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.
Puddle Wading – contributed by Jill Parker
We regularly (daily, sometimes twice) go off to the local park. We go climbing/wandering amongst all the trees, across the trip trap bridge, look in the pond to see what is growing and we have recently found out that the Gruffalo might live in our park. The children found a BIG metal door which then became the Gruffalo’s front door and every time we go past they just have to knock it but ALWAYS run away.
A few weeks ago myself and the children enjoyed ‘puddle’ wading. They had to find the biggest puddle in the fields in the park and we all wadded in. I did ensure that the parents sent old clothes for this but didn’t actually tell them what we were doing, I thought I’d leave that to the children and photo diary. The parents and OFSTED (inspection last week) were VERY impressed.
Learning Outdoors in the Early Years
Free downloadable E-book first published in 2005 – 150 pages.
NEW: Childminding Best Practice Club – Themed Activity Packs emailed to you – £2.50 per month – April is Easter and St. George’s Day themed. May is ‘minibeasts’
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 St. George’s Day themed activities like these:
Another Ofsted outstanding for regular Club contributor Amanda Harris
My Ofsted inspector absolutely loved your monthly packs Kay, she said that they were packed with solid advice and top tips, the wide variety of monthly topics with supporting planning and activities were a brilliant way of considering how to imbed culture capital into practise as they encourage children to learn by taking part in a wide range of activities which will fill any gaps that they have preparing them for the part of their learning journey such as school!
Love these two simple but really effective Easter Crafts – contributed by Trish Feneysey
Mothers Day Craft Ideas
Thank you Helen Seddon for the cute flower card idea which can be adapted to children of any age. Also thank you Trisha Feneysey for the lovely keepsake picture frame idea that mums will treasure forever.
Kindness is underrated – let’s teach children to be kind to each other. Love this Kindness Tree – contributed by Mary Smith
When I see the children being kind, they get given a sticker to put on their Individual kindness trees. They seemed to have really taken to this topic. One child said to me at the end of the day “x has been really kind today hasn’t she?”
They also look at the pictures randomly and say “do you know what that one is saying Mary?”
I then turn it around and ask them saying, “mmmm I’m not sure, what do you think?”
They said, “they’re helping them get up, that’s kind”.
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.
A childminder’s perspective on The Curiosity Approach – by guest blogger Samantha Boyd
If you are curious about the Curiosity Approach, Samantha has written a great article especially for childminders on adapting these ideas for your setting.
Just for fun: the complete list of things that childminders hate.
Add your own in the feed!
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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.
You don’t NEED to write a Coronavirus policy – it is more important to communicate with parents
Lots of people have been asking me for a Coronavirus policy. I’m afraid I don’t have an official policy because not only is the situation constantly changing, it varies depending on where in the country you live. What you do in your area is going to need to be in line with whatever your local authority tells you to do in your area.
Communication with parents is more important than ever
It is very important to talk to parents about their concerns about trips to soft play and music clubs etc and to take their concerns seriously. Parents want to feel reassured that you are sensible, will take advice given to you by the local authority seriously and that in the mean time you are doing the best you can to safeguard their children by teaching good hand washing, coughs and sneezes behaviour etc. Parents will feel safer if they feel that you are being sensible and taking this all seriously.
You are also perfectly within to rights to directly ask parents about their travel plans and to ask them to tell you if they have been travelling to places or in contact with anyone that could put you and the children you look after at risk.
It is also important to consider the individual health needs of the children you look after. You really need to be flexible in your plans around the individual children you look after. In general, there has never been a better time to take a trip to the woods rather than crowded indoor play areas,
Should childminders and nurseries stay open if schools and nurseries in our area close?
If schools and nurseries close in your area, I do feel that you should also CLOSE. I know it will be tempting for parents to think they can continue to use your services. And it will be tempting to take in loads of school kiddies whose parents ‘have’ to go to work. But this will not help to stop the spread of infection. You will need to listen to what your own local authority is telling people in your area to do.
What happens to my pay if childminders are forced to close?
Many childminders are also concerned about loss of pay if you are unable to open. What you choose to do is your decision. How, I would see it morally is this way:
If your parents pay you in advance each month and are on salaried positioned where they will NOT be losing their own money if they can’t work, then I would not offer them any kind of refund if you are not allowed to open. They will not lose their money; so you shouldn’t have to lose yours.
If your parents pay you hourly for your service, and they are also unable to work, then it would not be fair to charge them if they can’t work either. If you don’t provide the service, then you can’t charge them for it.
If you are unable to open because you or one of your family gets sick
Your policy on what happens if you get sick should be in your regular policy document at all times, so the Coronavirus is no different. My policy says that if I am unable to provide care because I am sick, that I will refund the parent at the end of the month.
Best Coronavirus resources for childminders
Childminding for you – great facebook group for childminders. Has a post started yesterday with lots of useful links including people who have posted sample policies if you want to write one and copy it.
Pacey’s information is helpful and also addresses insurance issues which a lot of people have been concerned about. They also have a good video just in case you need more handwashing information!
Government Updated Information. This is the official government page of updates, not specifically childminding related
NHS Coronavirus Information. This is the official information from the NHS
Poster for educational settings – just to reassure parents that you are taking things seriously you might want to put this, or something like this (search the internet)
Handwashing song – contributed by Julie Price
Thought you might like our hand washing song. (To the tune of Polly Put The Kettle On)
Everybody wash your hands (wash palms and backs of hands)
Everybody wash your hands (wash fingers)
Everybody wash your hands (wash left wrist)
Before your tea (wash right wrist)
Soap away the germs and bugs (interlink fingers to wash between them)
Soap away the germs and bugs (interlink fingers to wash between them)
Soap away the germs and bugs (wash thumb of left hand)
Before your tea (wash thumb of right hand)
Everybody rinse your hands (rinse hands under water)
Everybody rinse your hands
Everybody rinse your hands
Before your tea
Dry your hands upon the towel (dry hands thoroughly)
Dry your hands upon the towel
Dry your hands upon the towel
Before your tea
It’s about the right length of time they need to wash for and it teaches them the recommended handwashing actions. We also sing and mime it during song time as well as when they’re actually washing.
Early Childhood Education for Sustainability
Education for sustainability is an important aspect of early childhood education but it is hard to know what the message should be for under 5s. This is a great toolkit of information and a nice poster you can display to remind you to reflect on the key points.
Supporting children’s learning and development at home – contributed by Jennifer Fishpool
Working as an effective team with parents is an essential part of my ethos and something which I emphasise right from the start. I have seen the enormous benefits that working closely together and having good relationships with parents can bring. I think this is especially important if a child only attends a couple of days a week or also attends other settings such as a nursery, as without good relationships and communication it is easy to miss vital information about what a child is doing when they are not with you. (It is really useful to know what a child is interested in or good at doing at home and ALL parents want to know how their child is getting on when they are at work!)
As well as sharing lots of information about the children with their parents I have been working hard at trying to come up with good ways to help the little ones’ parents understand how they can help support their children’s learning and development at home. (As well as showing them that they are already doing loads of fantastic stuff they may not be giving themselves enough credit for!) I give parents lots of input on their child’s learning, either through conversations, reports or via the Tapestry app and have held some ‘stay and play’ playdough workshops and plan to do some phonics based ones this term, (to hopefully show parents that at this stage phonics isn’t scary and certainly isn’t just all about learning letters!)
However it is always nice to find some quality resources that I can lend parents to take home so I was pleased when I spotted a post on Facebook about these books, Start Learning 1 and 2 by Kay Woods. They are specifically aimed at parents who want to know more about their child’s development and are looking for some activities to help and I was impressed by the way the information is set out in a way that is easy and quick to understand. I now have three sets so that parents can borrow them.
Message of encouragement – from childminder Bev Metcalf
I think each of us have a fantastic and unique way we do and approach childminding. We are all different and that is what makes our jobs unique too. We can each do different things and bring them to our childminding setting. It should not make anyone feel they are not doing enough or that they might feel to keep up with anybody else. We all do a fantastic job no matter what our abilities or settings. Keep up the great work you are doing and stop comparing yourself to other people.
Tips for Outstanding Ofsted Inspections
If you want to get outstanding then you should see yourself as a ‘work in progress’. Even if you think you are doing everything perfectly right now, there is always room for improvement. And you should have, in your mind, and on your Self-Evaluation, some priorities for improvement. Writing that you have priorities for improvement does not mean that you doubt what you are doing. It almost feels counter intuitive, but actually it is essential to know how you want to improve, in order to get the best Ofsted grades.
Water Wall – contributed by Samantha Bennett
The kids love our new water wall and I think I enjoyed making it as much as the kids like playing with it. The frame is just a planter which you can get at any DIY store. We got the wind tubes from my local toy shop the funnels and sieve were what I had in my cupboard. I fastened it all onto the frame with tie wraps. I like the easiness of the design because we can change where the tubes and things go and also add just by cutting and re doing the tie wraps.
Inspection report – contributed by Julie Price
I was inspected in February under the new guidelines. They are making a big thing of Safeguarding and Culture Capital (buzz word) so we need to make sure we can tell the inspector what it is and what we’re doing. They also asked me about Prevent.
And don’t forget the basics like first aid and safeguarding certificates. My previous inspector said it was soul destroying having to grade excellent childminders inadequate because their first aid certificates had expired!
They will want to see all 2 year checks and I’m told they must be signed and dated.
Ofsted site for reporting new adults in the home
You must tell Ofsted about new people aged 16 or over who live or work in the home you look after children in within 14 days. This includes children who turn 16. This Ofsted page explains the process.
Ofsted inspection cycle ends July 2020
People always want to know when they will next be inspected. Ofsted do inspections on a four year cycle. The current inspection cycle runs from August 2016- July 2020. If you have not been inspected since Aug 2016, then you can expect a visit before the end of July. If you have been, then you can relax until the summer! The situation is different if you have been inspected and judged as inadequate or requiring improvement, then they will come sooner.
Ofsted-registered childminders must use this service to report significant events affecting their childcare within 14 days. There is a clear list about what qualifies as an incident you would need to tell them about.
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