Welcome to the Autumn 2020 Childminding Best Practice Newsletter. I hope that most of you are able to open back up now and start getting back to some normality. And for those of you who have been open throughout, that the new term will bring some well needed stability. See below for information about Ofsted inspections which will be resuming for some of you from the end of Sept and for everyone from January.

Scroll down to read the newsletter online, or download it as a PDF.

Inspirational Best Practice – Ideas, Stories and Links

  • NEW: Internet and screen safety policy
  • Road safety tips – just for childminders
  • What would you do if this happened to you: parents keep sending toys from home
  • Tips for outstanding insepctions

Crafts for Diwali and Halloween

EYFS Paperwork, policy and legislation updates

Forest Childcare Association News

Free product updates

The next issue (Winter) will be coming out in December 2020

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!



Inspirational Best Practice – Ideas, Stories and Links


Free Covid Risk Assessment, Policy and government links

I try to keep this page on my website up to date with Covid links – like what is expected of childminders in Sept. It also has a risk assessment and Covid policy. As new information appears I try to post it here. But it remains very important that you read any information put out by your local authority as Covid continues to be a local issue.


NEW: Internet and screen safety sample policy

This page contributed by ex police officer Jayne Jones contains information written specifically for childminders. As well as points to consider for your setting, it also gives you a sample internet and screen policy you can modify for use in your own setting. Thanks Jayne!  This is really great stuff she has written and is sharing including links that will provide you with information you can share with parents (which you need to be doing for Ofsted, hint hint!).


Road Safety Tips

When I was doing my childminding training course I remember one day imagining what it would be like to be a school run childminder. In my head it looked rather like this picture: all of the children securely roped together in a big long chain, ideally with large flashing lights on their heads so cars could spot them easily. How else would I possibly keep them alive all the way home?

Of course somehow childminders across the country manage to get far more children than this safely to their homes every day without ropes or traffic cones of any sort!  I asked you to send in your road safety tips – thanks to everyone who responded especially Fiona Crisp and Kate Fuller. Here is what you said:

  • We walk in twos directly behind each other (younger ones holding hands). The most sensible pair are either the last pair or I get them to be the leaders. Challenging children hold my hands or, if I’m pushing a buggy, are the first ‘two’ behind me.
  • When I cross a road I see the children across like a lollipop lady, with me between the children and stopped cars.
  • I always pair them up with the oldest and younger walkers holding hands together. The very youngest sit in the pushchair or hold my hand.
  • When we get out of the car, or are waiting to get into it, or I need them to stand still for a moment by the side of the road, I’ve taught them to “hold the wall” or fence, or the side of my car, if nothing else is available. If they’re touching the wall, they’re not running about.
  • Always, always draw attention to the child who is walking well and praise them. I can still remember the teacher who commented on how nicely I was walking across the playground when I was 6 years old. I made sure I always walked nicely across the playground after that 🙂 Positive praise is a very strong incentive.
  • Ignore anyone who makes negative comments about reins. They are quite literally a lifesaver. Use them if you have an unpredictable child or a bolter.
  • children under 8 have difficulty in judging the speed a car is travelling. Don’t let them cross the road unsupervised.
  • You should always carry toys. Don’t let children carry them. The roadside is not the place for playing and children may chase dropped toys (especially balls) out into the road without thinking.
  • I use a ‘stopping places’ method – corners of roads, sign posts or trees. This way if children are running ahead I know they will be stopping at certain places. This is practiced with little ones (at quiet times not on the actual school run!!). Anyone who can’t ‘stop’ has to walk next to me until they can. We also practice stopping immediately if I shout ‘Stop’.


Improving Early Childhood Development – WHO Publication

The World Health Organization  has issued new guidelines on boosting the development and well-being of children aged 0-to-3.  The guidelines contain recommendations aimed at caregivers, health professionals and other workers who can assist in educating and supporting parents.


Tiny Happy People – new site aimed to improve communication skills

Lots of great activity ideas for tiny babies which can be hard to come by. Site is aimed at parents and caregivers, so some good ideas for childminders too.


What would you do if this happened to you:  Parents keep sending toys from home?

A three year old’s parents insist on sending toys in from home. This is something you discourage because you don’t want to be responsible for the toy getting lost or broken. Furthermore, there is the issue of sharing and the little one in question is not good at sharing. You are quite strict that if sharing isn’t an option the toy needs to be stored in LO’s bag on their peg and not played with. You don’t want the other children upset with a toy paraded in front of them that they aren’t allowed to touch whilst everything else is for everyone to share. You are starting to get really annoyed at the parents for continuing to ignore your no toys rule. Is it right to insist on no toys from home? What should you do?


Here’s what other childminders say:

I do not allow children to play with toys brought from home. I put all toys brought to the setting on the mantel piece and explain to the child that it may get broken through the day and that i will give it to mum or dad at pick up time.

They can bring toys if they wish but stay on my bench until hometime – sometimes just knowing a toy is ‘watching’ the childs coat makes them feel better.

All toys bought to my home (comforters excluded) are put in a basket in my kitchen on arrival and given back at home time. Exactly the same rule as when they go to school.

I completely agree! I have one who always brings something. One day Dad picked up and asked where the toy was. I said oh I don’t know, I can’t find it. So he said oh we need it he won’t to sleep without it. Then stood there and waited for me to go find it! So now I make a point of taking it off him and putting it in his bag! I don’t care if they don’t like it. If they think I’m crawling round on my hands and knees looking for a toy that shouldn’t have been here in the first (and hasn’t played with once while he’s been here I might add) then they can go jump! 6 on an evening is my time with MY family!

I disagree. Children like to have something of their own, even if it stays in their bag all day they just like to show me and share their things. I find them a good conversation opener and encourage them to share their toy, but if they don’t want to I explain to the others that that toy is x’s and its special to them. That’s usually accepted and again we can then chat about what they have or would like. I’ve not had a problem yet.

Some parents need to learn the word no!

Just a thought but this could be a good opportunity to teach the EYFS understanding “that some things are theirs, some things are shared” I’m paraphrasing here but you can look the exact wording up in the EYFS.

I do allow toys from home but only on certain days. In my setting we agree a certain day each week (fortnight or month whatever you fine would work best for you and your setting) that children can bring in a toy from home that is theirs that only they can play with. This also might encourage the children and parents to stick to your rule the rest of the time.

You could also get the parents to sign a disclaimer to say that you are not responsible for any loss or damage to toys or items brought from home. That way you are covered and don’t have to worry as much about toys from home being broken (of course you will anyway to some extent but it may help you to relax about it a little).

In the holidays I’ve done “Bring A Toy Day”; the best thing I’ve done especially for the older children.


Tips for Outstanding Ofsted Inspections

If you want to get outstanding then you need to make sure that the children are well behaved during your inspection. They must all listen well and show high levels of curiosity, imagination, concentration and self-control. The children must appear well motivated and eager to join in. The only way to pull this off during your inspection is if you practice these skills with the children ALL the time. The more you expect of yourself and the children in terms of their behaviour, the better things will go on inspection day.

Childminding Best Practice Club member Maureen Mortlock is awarded another outstanding

There have been lots of reports of childminders losing outstanding under the new Inspection Framework, so I was especially pleased to hear from Maureen who has maintained her outstanding rating. She writes: “I’ve just had my inspection and used all your paperwork including your Characteristics of Effective Learning pack – well basically all your paperwork – and yet again I retained my outstanding. Reading your monthly activity plans, I find the questions you put in the way to review your own setting, activities and definitely like you keep saying know your intent, implementation and impact, safeguarding, risk assessments, Prevent duty and your areas of learning. Your paperwork keeps me so organised and up to date. Its simplistic manor means I’m not overloaded with unnecessary paperwork I have all the essential paperwork by the way your starting points, 2 year old check and observations.”


Promoting the Characteristics of Effective Learning PosterMaureen’s Inspection report

“I was asked by the inspector to name the three prime areas and to show how you linked them to your observations and then to tell her how you linked the specific areas all verbally! Very thankful your paperwork focused on the prime areas and I remember one of your questions if your inspector asks was about prime areas so that’s was amazing.  Again your Diversity Pack was really helpful because I was able to show working with parents, culture capital, British values all in one conversation. I talked about Forest Childcare too and I took a tip from that and added a real potato, cabbage, carrot and apple to children’s shopping trolley and she loved the fact the children had real life experience in play.

In summary, this inspection is about verbally knowing your children inside out – what ages they are working at, how you track the gaps and how you are filling these areas and unless you have paperwork that you can understand and can cover everything, outstanding will be lost more and more.”


Art and Activity Ideas


NEW: Childminding Best Practice Club – Themed Activity Packs emailed to you – £2.50 per month – September is ‘Recycling’ 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 Recycling themed activities like these:

Toy Lorry with EYFS Observations

Make believe is the theme of this project. While the children cut and glue ask them questions about their lorry. Where is it going and who are the toys for? Make observations about what the children imagine. You can download the free templates and observations guide here.


Crafts with free templates for Diwali (14th Nov) and Autumn Treasure Hunt

Download the free templates for the colours scavenger hunt and Diwali Lamp here.

Halloween invitation to Play Tray Idea – contributed by Beverley Spry

Poppy Wreath Display for Remembrance Day (11th Nov) – contributed by Charlotte Woodland

Poppies are made of card, then tissue paper and a dab of sparkly red paint! I love the way Charlotte has displayed the paper plate wreaths on a tree for her setting.


Fox craft – contributed by Carol Buey

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EYFS Paperwork, Policy and Legislation News


New EYFS Statutory Framework – coming Sept 2021

A revised EYFS Framework will become statutory from September 2021.  The Framework is likely to be virtually identical to the early adopters EYFS framework so if you want a ‘sneak peak’ of the changes you can take a look here. However, please note that childminders cannot become Early Adopters of the new Framework. Childminders must continue to use the current EYFS Statutory Framework which remains in force until September 2021.


Development Matters will not be updated yet

Revised non-statutory guidance is expected at some point, but nothing has been  confirmed for right now.  Changes to the Early Learning Goals have been incorporated into the revised EYFS (coming Sept 2021).


Ofsted Inspections will resume

Ultimate childminding checklistOfsted announced that they will be carrying out a phased return to inspection, starting with an interim period of visits during the autumn term. The disapplications to the EYFS are expected to end on 25th September. Ofsted intend to resume full inspections in January 2021, and are keeping the exact timing under review.  From September 2020 they will start by inspecting providers that have been judged inadequate or requires improvement and have associated actions to fulfil.


What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term

Reopening government guidance. Read this to make sure you are aware of the government expectations and requirements.


Advice to share with parents who have concerns about sending their children back to school

Statement from the Chief Medical Officer on the evidence of risks and benefits to health from schools and childcare settings reopening


Provision for Black children in the Early Years Foundation Stage

As an Early Years practitioner, you should never underestimate the influence you can have on the lives of children and families. This publication is for childcare providers who work with Black children and their families.


Forest Childcare Association News


Members of the Forest Childcare Association commit to taking the children on an outdoor outing to a ‘wild’ place once a week. 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.


Where Memories Are Made – contributed by Bev Metcalf, childminder from Sunderland

If I ask all my kids where they want to go they will always say this woods (Ayton’s Wood Offerton) as they love it and a few weeks ago I was lucky enough with one child to listen and watch a wood pecker. Me and the seven year old both stood and the child said, “Auntie Bev, is this one of those moments that I am lucky to see?”

I told them yes you are. Then the child said, “I will remember it for the rest of my life!” It brought a smile to my face and tears to my eyes!


Building Familiarity with Wild Places by Repeating Visits – contributed by Melissa Swain of Squirrels Childcare

We are loving Forest Childcare. We go out at least once a week but in reality it is usually 2-3 times as some children would then miss out each week. We plan the week ahead and try to ensure that if a child didn’t experience the activities the week before that we bring things back to the setting so the child can join in. We also then make sure we go to the same locations on a cycle, but on different days to enable the children to become familiar with the forests, parks and country parks we use, to build up their confidence, geographical awareness and ability to recognise where we are and where to go.

Many of the locations are familiar to the children as their parents take them but for those who don’t get to visit these lovely places this is a real adventure and maybe the only time they have visited them. Therefore the repetition of visits helps familiarity.


Claire Hassall, Forest Childcare provider, talks about using Forest Childcare to promote her childminding practice and get new business. 

I am very lucky to live in a rural village with various parks, natures reserves and woods around us.

It’s nice to know that I can put a name to something I have been doing since I started childminding. I take the children out almost every day. they love the puddle jumping, acorn finding, conker finding, bug hunting, attempted den building fun we get up too. So new inspiration is exciting.  1 set of parents always comment on how well their children walk with me, and how they have never managed to get them to walk such distances without piggy backs.

It had never occurred to me to use it as a marketing tool though, so thank you. It will be interesting to see if I can entice some new families. There isn’t a big need for childminders around here, nanny seems to be a more popular choice.


Display your Forest Childcare Certificate

If you are a member of the Forest Childcare Association, don’t forget to display your membership certificate next to your registration certificate and other important certificates that demonstrate quality like an Ofsted Outstanding Certificate. It is designed to help you to advertise your business and to impress both parents and Ofsted inspectors. It shows that at your setting you offer quality childcare by taking the children on weekly outdoor outings. This is something worth bragging about!


Wildlife Trust – loads of great activity ideas and free printables

This page from the Wildlife Trust has lots of great printable activities for the outdoors. I recommend it. Great site


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.   


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