Childminders should not put themselves down, especially in front of parents. I hear too many childminders do this. In fact, I am going to bang the head against the wall of the next childminder who tells me ‘I’m just a childminder’. There is no ‘just’ about anything we do.
I know that because I worked as a childminder. Other people don’t know what you do and how hard you work, so you should never give them the wrong impression by talking down your work. Parents are the most important people you need to impress. Don’t imagine that just because you look after their children every day that your work speaks for itself. Parents can be fickle creatures, tempted away by the offer of something or someone ‘cheaper’ or in some other way ‘better’. So in order to retain their business you must constantly sell yourself to them.
Childminders need to tell parents why they are the best at what they do. In any other business, companies send press releases when something good happens because press releases make customers buy more from them. In the same way, you need to constantly remind parents what a good choice they made when they chose you to look after their child. This will make them want to keep their child with you for longer and not search elsewhere for ‘better’ or ‘cheaper’ childcare.
When the parents come to collect the child it is hugely important not just to tell the parents what the child ate and how he slept and what his nappies were like… it is also a brief but crucial opportunity to show the parents all the great things you are doing with their child. Don’t just hand across your daily diary – many parents return them unopened – but take a single minute of the parents’ time to discuss their child’s day with them.
However exciting their day or special the activities you have done with them, children cannot be counted on to remember to tell their parents anything useful at all. I asked my little girl who is in reception what she did at school the other day. ‘Look, Mummy, look, what I found in the playground!’ She proudly produced a button from her pocket and continued to talk about it for the next five minutes. At school that day they had in fact been having “Hungry Caterpillar Day”. The teachers had brought in food so that they could eat all the things the caterpillar ate (which I think is a wonderful idea) and they had dressed up and painted butterflies. My little girl didn’t bother to tell me any of this, and it was only because it was her parent-teacher meeting the following day that I ever heard anything about it at all.
What I’m saying is that if my five year old can’t be counted on to communicate anything useful to me, then you certainly can’t hope that the smaller children you look after will tell the parents anything you’ve done either. So if you want them to know, then you need to tell them! It is not bragging. It is not annoying, and you are not wasting the parents’ time. It is marketing your business. The key message is this: show off what you are doing, then parents won’t be tempted away by other, cheaper childcare options they may stumble across.
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