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8 Things Ofsted wants childminders to STOP doing – by guest blogger Jennifer Fishpool

Change is upon childminders again! The new EYFS Framework becomes statutory on the 1st of September 2021 and with inspections up and running again and now potentially only once every 6 years, there is more pressure than ever on getting it right on the day. But what about the long stretch of time that falls between inspections? With a six year gap it would now be entirely possible to look after a child from when he was a baby until when he starts school without any paperwork you create for him ever being seen by an inspector. So should childminders stop doing all paperwork?

There is a growing rumour that Ofsted have banned paperwork and some practitioners say that they are going to stop doing ANY except the statutory requirements. This represents a gross misunderstanding of the expectations on childminders. Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater let’s make sure we really understand what Ofsted is asking.

1. Stop ticking boxes on ‘trackers’ and highlighting copies of Development Matters

Trackers are the biggie which lots of people have been talking about. Ofsted have NEVER asked you to highlight copies of Development Matters or to spend hours colouring in boxes on individual trackers. Childminders should be focusing on providing a broad and balanced curriculum for children and one of the reasons Ofsted do NOT want you to use trackers in this way is because some settings were so focused on getting the children to achieve and exceed each one of the ‘statements’ that the children were getting a very narrow learning experience.

However, all that being said, don’t throw away all those trackers just yet! Many practitioners find them very useful and if that applies to you there is no need to stop using them as long as you consider their limitations. If you find yourself using them as a curriculum, a list of goals or next steps for children, or worrying if children miss steps or do not develop in the exact order written on the paperwork then STOP! This is not how trackers should be used. If you use a simple tracker which is quick and easy to use and helps you spot any gaps in learning or key points that may raise concerns, then great, this is a useful way to use this type of assessment.

2. Stop writing pages of meaningless observations

childminding paperworkIt is our job as childminders to constantly observe children to assess their development and needs. However, STOP making pointless observations that simply generate paperwork and don’t really add value for either the childminder or the child. If you know and the parents know that the child can use a spoon you don’t need a photo and accompanying write up to prove it. Think about what you really need to observe and whether writing it down will add value to what you already do. Let me be clear that you should not stop doing written observations altogether, as done properly and with clear purpose, they are extremely useful.

(If you are new to observing children and how to get the most benefit from it without it taking too much time look out for our ‘Don’t Panic! Beginners Guide to Observations,’ coming soon.)

3. Stop generating ‘data’ and ‘evidence’ in general

The new EYFS and Development Matters are intended to give you an opportunity to refresh your setting’s curriculum to ensure that it focusses on your children’s needs. You should stop spending time unnecessarily gathering evidence and you should certainly spend less time generating ‘data’. Data includes photographs that serve no proper purpose and next steps that are not followed up. Instead spend time creating a broad and balanced curriculum.

4. Stop assessing children unnecessarily

Stop doing any assessments that are not beneficial to the children you are looking after. Pages and pages of ‘next steps’ in learning journeys are not helpful. Especially if they are not acted upon. If you instead ‘know’ inside of you from your knowledge of Development Matters what comes next, you don’t need to write this out anymore. You are allowed to use your ‘professional knowledge’ of child development and the child.

5. Stop making learning journeys without asking yourself why you are making them?

Please notice that I did not say to stop making learning journeys. This is another hot topic of debate on forum discussions and many childminders are overreacting and throwing away their learning journeys. Ofsted does not want you to do this as long as you are making them for the right reasons.

So why make learning journeys?  Do not make learning journeys with photographs of observations and little circled areas of learning and development FOR the Ofsted inspector. They are not interested and may not even ask to see your learning journeys. These documents should only be generated for you and for the parents and only if you find that making them is helpful. Many families enjoy receiving them and you may secretly enjoy making them. However, many parents are perfectly happy with WhatsApp messages and you are allowed to use your ‘professional knowledge’ as long as you really do know where each child is at in his or her stage or development. Personally I think a balance is a good solution. I will still send my parents lots of photos as I love taking them and they love receiving them, but I will not be printing many out and will only include the occasional observation in a much shorter ‘learning story,’ to help me remember where each child is and to provide a lovely memento for the parents when the child eventually leaves my setting.

6. Stop doing unnecessarily detailed written planning you then don’t stick to

STOP doing any paperwork at all that has no use aside from the fact that you think Ofsted might want to look at it. For example horrifically detailed weekly plans that you don’t stick to. The new Development Matters makes it clear that it is up to childminders to use their professional judgment and knowledge to observe children and to plan for their next steps. Julian Grenier led on the revision of Development Matters for the Department for Education. He is clear that you should use Development Matters to help you use your knowledge of each child to facilitate holistic learning that helps children to make progress “without generating unnecessary paperwork.”

This video is a nice overview of the new EYFS and how it links to Development Matters with its goal to “improve outcomes for all children, especially disadvantaged children, and to reduce teacher and practitioner workload.”

7. Stop hitting the target and missing the point with the Early Learning Goals

The Department for Education does not want you to feel restrained by the Early Learning Goals and actually they are primarily there for reception teachers to assess their children against at the end of their time in the Foundation Stage.

The most important point is that a childminder should not write a curriculum plan around a learning goal because the ELGs are really narrow. For example, one of the ELGs under physical development is that children should be able to ‘move energetically, such as running, jumping, dancing, hopping, skipping and climbing’. A childminder could read that and decide that since jumping is obviously important that they would buy a trampoline, but not waste their time with ball skills since those are not specifically mentioned. That is pretty much what the Department of Education does not want you to do with the ELGs. Your physical development gross motor skills curriculum should not exclude spending time doing ball and other PE skills

8. Stop doing anything ‘for Ofsted’

They always say this, but nobody really believes them. With inspections now every 6 years, of course you are going to want to get the best grade you possibly can at your inspection because you will be stuck with whatever you get for a long time!  So, of course you should prepare carefully for your inspection as you always would by being mostly ready for inspection all the time, by being the best childminder you can be all the time, but by perhaps reading through a copy of our Ultimate Childminding Checklist before the big day to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything obvious.

In conclusion, childminders need to think about what is really beneficial to support our practice (and this will be different for each practitioner depending on their needs.) It is about finding a sensible balance, not stopping all paperwork.  If you only have one child you may be able to retain all the information you need on their development without writing anything down but how will you share that information with the parents? You may have more children but have a fantastic memory and still not have to write down much in order to be able to confidently tell an Ofsted Inspector the ‘story’ of each child, but will you be able to spot gaps in learning quickly I think that most of us will still find keeping some sort of records beneficial so don’t burn those learning journeys and trackers just yet!

References

Burchall, J. (2021, May). Ofsted early education update . Retrieved from http://www.theofstedbigconversation.co.uk: https://theofstedbigconversation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Ofsted-presentation-Ofsted-early-education-update-early-years-providers-Summer-2021.pdf

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Sign up for the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter using the orange sign up box on my website and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Childminding Best Practice Club and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

What does a pedagogy mean to childminders? – by guest blogger Samantha Boyd

New Ofsted term that appears in the revised EYFS guidance and the new Development Matters

From September 2021, a revised EYFS Framework and version of Development Matters will come into force. One of the seven new “Key Features of Good Practice” right in the introduction to the new Development Matters is the idea of “PEDAGOGY” which may be a new concept for many childminders.

Pedagogy (pronounced ped-a-go-gee) is simply your method of teaching. I can already see childminders all over the UK panicking about this word and how it will affect your settings!! BUT STOP! You are already doing this……Lets look at pedagogies and how we implement them in our settings day to day.

Many of you will have heard of Montessori, Steiner, Te Whariki, Reggio, The Curiosity Approach – all of these are different styles of pedagogy and the most effective way of teaching is a mixture of all of these. Children learn best through play and observing others – we have all seen children copying what they have seen, heard or experienced in their play as this is their way of working out the world they live in and making sense of it all.

As well as these formal pedagogies, the word can also be applied to the types of planning that childminders do such as deciding the amount of free play you give children vs the amount of guided learning you offer, and how your balance between free play and structure might change as the children grow older. The focus of the new Development Matters is on balance – children learn best when you offer a mixture of structured learning and free play; you need to show that you are aware of this balance in the plans you are making.

An enabling environment is definitely the Third Teacher – having uncluttered and inspiring space for children to play in, loose parts such as bricks and natural resources for children to use their imaginations, authentic materials such as items to use in their play like baskets, purses, gloves, hats etc. is all you need – and you already have this. Your role in teaching is to observe, understand the child, and facilitate their next steps in their learning by setting up an environment that allows them to explore and investigate, be curious and to answer their questions, ask them and talk to them, read books with them and sing with them. Playing with children is an inspiring thing. Seeing their eyes light up when they learn, through experience, something new. So you see you are already supporting children and extending their learning through your own knowledge of the children you care for.

So please don’t panic when seeing this word – you are already using your own methods of teaching (your pedagogies) and may be using a mixture of influences to give the children in your care the very, very best. Be proud of this, keep it simple and be confident.

Over the year, as we move towards the new EYFS with its “seven key features” – the best for every child; high-quality care; curriculum; pedagogy; assessment; self-regulation and executive function; and partnership with parents – I will look at bringing you regular blogs looking at each of these in turn so that childminders are ready to hit the ground running next September!

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Sign up for the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter using the orange sign up box on my website and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

About Samantha Boyd

I am a mum of 3, a qualified Forest School Leader and childminder, graded outstanding in 2015 and 2020 and am currently studying a childhood studies degree with the open university. I have a love for loose parts and the outdoors and am currently working through the Curiosity Approach accreditation. I have a passion to allow children the space and time to explore and love setting up ‘invitations to play’ and seeing where the children will take it.

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

Have childminded children forgotten how to play with others post lock-down? – by guest blogger Samantha Boyd

Have you noticed on social media sites how many childminders are talking about the behaviour of the children – varying in ages – when playing since the return from lockdown? A childminder contacted Kay saying “The children are all very happy but have forgotten how to share and play so we are concentrating on turn taking, sharing and emotions as well as talking lots about family – generally the same as most first terms but the lack of interaction between kids does seem to be a bit more obvious this term. I guess six months without play groups and play dates has taken its toll.” Many other childminders that I have spoken to have been dealing with the same behaviours being displayed by children since returning back to work after lockdown.

For most children, play is where they learn about social interaction. They learn what is acceptable and what is not, and play is a safe place to act out things they have experienced. With lockdown this was denied to them for what is a long period of time (in their short lives) and deprived them of this important aspect of their learning.

During difficult and stressful times, play allows children to make sense of the world around them and helps to support their emotional wellbeing and build resilience. Returning to settings after a long period of being within their family unit, has heightened childrens anxieties, on top of what is already a stressful time with added pressures at home, such as worry about unemployment, finances, strained relationships, grief.

So what, as childcare professionals, can we do to support the children during these transitions. The following 6 suggestions came from http://www.youngminds.org.uk:

  1. Talk to the children about their feelings
  2. Talk to the children about the routines you have; or the rhythm of the day and provide a visual prompt, if this would help (Great for non-verbal or SEN children).
  3. Reassure the children – they are receiving a lot of messages regarding social distancing, washing hands, germs, illness and death – and this is all scary stuff when you are young.
  4. Keep things simple – allow children to play – explain that children do not have to give up a toy if they are still playing with it – snatching – patience and taking turns – facilitate play and have strategies in place to deal with any issues (see below).
  5. Go easy on yourself and ensure that you are looking after your own mental health.

Taking turns is a social skill and http://www.andnextcomesl.com  has some great ideas to teach this –

  1. Use a visual cue ie a talking stick
  2. Use turn taking language – “my turn, your turn”
  3. Model turn taking – show them what to do
  4. Play games that involve turn taking such as board games and card games
  5. Use a social story – see free link to a free printable and video about sharing
  6. Use a timer to indicate how long each turn will be – use oven timer/egg timer. This reinforces fairness and acts as a visual or auditory cue.
  7. Communicating and describing turns – first its x’s turn, then its yours – 5 minutes each.
  8. Use a fidget between turns such as a spinner, putty or ball.

If a child persists in snatching or aggressive behaviour – remove from the activity, explaining “You were having a hard time (taking turns with your friends) and you were not being kind. You need a break” NB THIS IS NOT TIME OUT!. Sit with the child and calmly talk to them about their feelings, the whys and what ifs. Once the child is calm, say they may rejoin the play but only if they can take turns and act kindly.

Remember sharing and turn taking are hard skills to master! So… work with parents to come up with some strategies; be mindful around the children regarding language and show by example; look after yourself.

Some great resources and further information can be found here:

www.outdoorplaycanada.ca/2020/05/13/play-first-supporting-childrens-social-and-emotional-wellbeing-during-and-after-lockdown/

www.youngminds.org.uk/blog/supporting-a-child-returning-to-school-after-lockdown/

www.kids-harbor.com/teach-child-take-turns/

 

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Sign up for the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter using the orange sign up box on my website and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

 

About Samantha Boyd

I am a mum of 3, a qualified Forest School Leader and childminder, graded outstanding in 2015 and 2020 and am currently studying a childhood studies degree with the open university. I have a love for loose parts and the outdoors and am currently working through the Curiosity Approach accreditation. I have a passion to allow children the space and time to explore and love setting up ‘invitations to play’ and seeing where the children will take it.

 

 

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

A childminder’s perspective on The Curiosity Approach – by guest blogger Samantha Boyd

I started childminding over 7 years ago and went through a period of time of buying lots and lots of toys. I ended up with a play room full of toys, literally stuffed to the brim with resources, so much so that we didn’t use the play room to play in – it became a store room. The children were flitting from one activity to another, I was focused on adult led activities and losing my mojo. I could see all these amazing images of crafts that others were completing with (for?) their children and my job became competitive – I wanted to be the best, I wanted to be great at my job but I was focused on the end results and the children were not as happy as they could have been.


Then one day whilst wasting time on Facebook, I came across The Curiosity Approach. I was fascinated by the pictures and what they said resonated with me. Children do not need ‘stuff’. They need love, time, attention to be able to discover for themselves – this led to other avenues that I wanted to learn and understand about – Forest School (I completed my Level 3 Forest School qualification); schemas; deep learning; child led learning. I started to try out new things within the setting and found children’s interest and curiosity were sparked.

 

I began to change things about, decluttered, gradually got rid of a lot of toys that were not being played with and replaced them with more natural and open-ended resources. The children became calmer and more involved in their play, their imaginations began to shine through.


I decided to take the plunge and signed up to complete the Curiosity Accreditation – this was going to be an investment I would never regret. The changes have been gradual but the impact has been huge. The hardest change was adapting how I reacted to the children – I follow their interests, if they ask a question we find out the answers together using different ways, I stopped completing perfect cards and pictures with (for?) them for all the big holidays throughout the year – I stopped anything where the children did not benefit from it, and the focus was now on the journey and not the end result. I talked to the parents, we discussed how to move things forward, what they wanted from their child’s time here.


The result? I am still completing the accreditation 15 months on – taking my time over introducing changes and making sure they are embedded before moving onto the next thing. The setting has adapted, even changing its name, and sharing good practice with others. The families have travelled this journey with me, supporting me and their children in becoming curious. I have fallen in love with caring for and educating children again. I wake up and can’t wait to start in the morning and am inspired by The Curiosity Approach to continue to learn and improve, as my passion for this is absorbed by the families, and they too love learning and being curious.

 

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Sign up for the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter using the orange sign up box on my website and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

 

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

Loose parts by guest blogger 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.

Here is an example of some art work achieved with loose parts.

 

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Sign up for the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter using the orange sign up box on my website and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

 

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

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