Childminding Best Practice

Home » Posts tagged 'ofsted inspection'

Tag Archives: ofsted inspection

The Great Christmas Card Debate: how much help should you give childminded children on their Christmas cards?

I’m NOT going to do handprints again for my childminding Christmas present, I said firmly to myself as I stared at the blank calendar template. Because everybody knows that handprints aren’t really the children’s work. Ofsted would scoff and tut. Other childminders will criticise me when I post the photo of two cute little handprints calendar by 3 year oldpressed in place by ME, not them. So this year I’m going to let the children do it.

So instead I asked the three year olds to draw a picture of their families to give to their parents as a “special Christmas present”. This is what one of them did:

He spent AGES doing it so his mummy would love it. I should have been delighted. Instead I looked at it and my heart sank. Why oh why did I leave out the BLACK pen?  He always goes for the black. What on earth had I been thinking? In fact, why didn’t I just do red and green handprints with glitter and that lovely poem about growing up that makes all parents mist up every time they read it?

 

I hadn’t thought about the PURPOSE of my Christmas gift

The problem was that I’d read too many articles on social media criticizing hand prints and I hadn’t properly considered what I was trying to accomplish from my Christmas calendars. The question of how much help you should give children on their Christmas cards gets very heated debate on social media every single year. How do you feel?

 

Christmas card quiz: How much help should you give childminded children on their Christmas cards?

A: NONE. All art work sent home from my setting is child-initiated and open-ended including their Christmas cards. The parents want to see their child’s work, not mine.

B: SOME. At Christmas I like to send something home that’s a little more special than our normal artwork. I copy ideas from social media and magazines and help the children to reproduce it the best they can.

C: I DO IT FOR THEM: I like to send home a perfect footprint in clay or a handprint picture that his parents will bring out year after year at Christmas to remember when he was small. Parents don’t have time to do these things themselves. It’s also a special thank you gift for their business that’s from me as well as their child.

 

You probably have a pretty strong opinion along one of those lines of thought. But before you judge yourself and your own choices (or those of others) too strongly, remember that ALL three of those answers are perfectly valid reasons for Christmas projects. It just depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

So instead of saying things MUST be done a certain way, let’s turn the question around and ask a much more important question instead:

What are you trying to ACHIEVE from your Christmas art project?

 

I want to make a really special gift for the parents

If this is your goal, then it is worth spending a bit of time researching and preparing a nice idea. Hand prints and foot print projects on ceramic tiles will last forever and will be brought out by parents year after year. If you don’t have the budget for that, then there are lots of lovely handprint on paper designs that will also work well. If you laminate them, they will last in the attic and the parents will remember their child (and you) fondly each Christmas they take it out far into the future.

 

I want to promote my childminding business

If you want to promote your business, instead of a card, make a calendar and spend some time making it special so that the parents will put it up on their fridge for the whole year. I would recommend a picture that isn’t in Christmas colours if you are doing a calendar, because red and green glitter will look out of place in May and the parents might just take it down. Take some time to think about a really nice design that the parents will want to look at all year round, and help the children so the design is eye catching. This will remind the parents what a great childminder they chose for their child each time they look at the calendar on their fridge.

 

I want to impress Ofsted

The day you are being inspected is probably not the day to create your special gift for parents to treasure, or your calendar that will promote your childminding business. In general, I would recommend that you stay away from handprint art during your inspection because unless you’re really good at explaining the purpose of your handprint project (for example, you are doing a learning activity on counting to five, or are teaching children how to use scissors etc.) then, in general, hand print activities that require you to press the child’s hand into place and then to cut around the child’s hand, will not impress the Ofsted inspector. Time and again you hear of people being marked down at inspections for making the wrong sort of art project.  This is not to say you should never do handprint art or display hand print art for the Ofsted inspector. Just make sure that you can explain the purpose behind your project.

 

I want to promote a specific area of learning and the Characteristic of Effective Learning: Active Learning

snowman craft for childminders done by 2 year oldLots of art projects you do with childminded children are ones where you set out purposely to make a specific project that you ultimately hope will at least vaguely resemble the model or idea you are copying. This snowman is an example from my EYFS Art Project CD where the point of the project is to teach the children about sizes and placement. They are asked to put the large circle at the bottom and the small circle on the top. This is quite a challenge for many EYFS children to understand the vocabulary and the concept of sizes. I also expected the children to sit still and concentrate long enough to finish the project they had started. WITH MY HELP, the two and half year old was able to produce this lovely snowman that she then felt very proud of. Without my guidance, she would probably have placed all three circles on top of each other and the buttons straight into her mouth!  This would make an ideal project to send home to the parents if you want your present to highlight the focus on teaching and learning in your setting.

 

I want to show parents that everything we do here is child-led, promotes creativity and the Characteristic of Effective Learning: creating and thinking critically.

This is a perfectly valid reason to put out a tray of glitter and paint and glue and hope for the best. Don’t tut!  Leaving children to do free play with these items could produce a masterpiece more beautiful than any idea you have copied for them off of Pinterest or Facebook and is a very important aspect of learning. Setting children loose to simply play with the art materials, exploring them for their own sake helps to build their creativity. It also helps them to explore their own ideas, to make links between ideas, to have their own ideas and to choose the best way to do something which promotes the COEL. However, it could also produce a piece of brown-smeared paper and a toddler wearing a bowl of glitter as a hat!

 

So looking back at my calendar family portrait again, if I’d gone into it with the right purpose in mind, it would have been perfect. It was a lovely project that focussed on Active Learning and exploring families. It just wasn’t what I felt was important at Christmas which is why I’d ended up feeling disappointed with it.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Whatever you decide for Christmas this year don’t let people on social media bully you into doing things their way. What you send home at Christmas is based on what you are trying to achieve from the project. Take a moment to consider the purpose behind your Christmas art projects so that YOU get the result you are aiming for.

 

Do you want to improve your understanding of the Characteristics of Effective Learning?

Promoting the Characteristics of Effective Learning PosterFor help putting the Characteristics of Effective Learning into practice including tools, activity ideas, certificates you can give to children, poster and display ideas, CPD worksheets for your setting, examples for your SEF and a setting checklist for the COEL, check out my new Characteristics of Effective Learning Pack for childminders.

 

 

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 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.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

10 frequently forgotten things childminders should include in your Ofsted Self Evaluation Form (SEF)

Writing your SEF is a horrible job and most childminders look forward to doing it like they look forward to visiting the dentist. But it has to be done. Especially if you are soon to be inspected, because your inspector uses your SEF to learn about you and your setting before they arrive. Whether you use the online Ofsted self-evaluation form, or your own method of self-evaluation, here are 10 things you should make sure your SEF includes:

 

  1. How you work with parents

It is really important to demonstrate how you work with parents. A nice way to approach this is with an example. In my SEF, for example, I describe the time I looked after a baby who wasn’t taking his bottle from me. I found out by talking to his mother that at home she normally gives it to him cold. So once I stopped heating it up, he took it from me. This would never have occurred to me if I hadn’t spoken to her! So it is a great example of how communication with the parents worked for the benefit of the child. Try to find an example of a situation that you have resolved by talking to the parents, and mention it in your SEF.

 

  1. How you use outdoor spaces

Make sure you mention your ‘access to outdoor space’ in your SEF. It is a legal requirement that children have time outdoors on a daily basis. So if you don’t have access to a good outdoor space at the moment, make sure that you list it as one of your priorities to improve.

 

  1. How you obtain and use children’ views

Telling Ofsted how you get parents’ views is normally quite easy. You talk to them, send home parent questionnaires and learning journeys etc. But what about the children’s views? How do you get the children’s views at your setting? And how do you then incorporate their views into your planning? Remember to mention how you do this at your setting in your SEF.

 

  1. How you encourage self-care

Use your SEF to give some specific examples of how you encourage the children to take some responsibility in matters of self-care and in managing their own health and safety. For example, in my SEF I give the example of walking to school. At the crossing I ask the children to tell me when and where to cross. “Is it safe yet?” I keep asking the children until the little green man appears. When you write your SEF include some examples from your setting of ways that you encourage children to look after themselves and to think about risks for themselves.

 

  1. How you promote British values in your setting

Don’t just write “I actively promote British values to help to prevent children being drawn into radicalisation and terrorism,” in your SEF model answers. I know that Ofsted and the government and everybody else wants to hear that you are “doing your bit” at your childminding setting but that statement on its own is fairly meaningless. Instead try and find some specific examples of how you promote inclusion and diversity at your setting and talk about those instead.

 

  1. How you work with other providers

An easy way to illustrate how you work with other providers (while also mentioning that you do your Progress Check at Age 2) is to illustrate how you work with health visitors in your area to do the new Integrated Review. How do you, parents and health visitors, work together (or plan to work together if you haven’t done one yet)?  What system do you have in place for information sharing? This is an easy example for your SEF.

 

  1. Your Continual Professional Development plan for yourself

Ofsted really wants to know that you take self-evaluation and self-improvement seriously. How do you plan for your improvement?  What courses have you taken and what are you planning to take? Think about formal courses but also about books you may want to read or just general improvements you would like to make to yourself that will improve the quality of the childcare you offer and write about this in some detail on your SEF.

 

  1. How you establish a new child’s starting points

When a new child starts in your setting you should normally carry out a starting points assessment to see where the child is at developmentally. This would help you to plan for him during his time in your care. Make sure you mention in your SEF how you do starting points assessments in your setting.

 

  1. How you ‘monitor progress’ and show that you are ‘closing gaps’ in achievement

After you have established a child’s starting point, Ofsted then wants to know that you are monitoring that child’s progress. How do you do that at your setting? How do you plan from what you observe?  Most importantly Ofsted really wants to know that you are making an effort to help children who are behind to catch up. Use some examples of ways you have done this with specific children from your setting in your SEF.

 

  1. How do you demonstrate that you have ‘high expectations’ of the children

Make sure you describe some of the structured activities you do with the children. Free play is important, but increasingly it is important to demonstrate to Ofsted some examples of activities you have planned for the children that help them to practice ‘concentrating’ on things, become confident positive learners, and are developing some of the other characteristics of effective learning that will help them in school and later in life. Give some specific examples on your SEF.

 

There is lots of include on your SEF, but the things I’ve mentioned here are especially important because they relate to things that Ofsted inspectors are hoping to see during your inspection.

 

Need some help writing your SEF?

My SEF model answers are a great way to help give you some direction for when you are sitting down to a blank screen to write your own SEF. You can use the model answers to get you started on your own. The first time you write your SEF is the hardest. If you write it in a Word document and then copy and paste the answers online, then it is easy to edit when you update it in the future.

Self Evaluations Form Model Answers screen shot

The horror of staring at the blank screen

 

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 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.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

How much ‘stuff’ does Ofsted want to see on childminders’ walls?

What Ofsted call your ‘childcare setting’ is probably what you call your family home. And deciding how much ‘work stuff’ to put up on the walls of your home can be tricky. Some childminders seem happy to turn their houses into mini nurseries. Others feel very strongly that they don’t want to feel they are still at work when they sit down to watch TV on an evening. First, let’s find out which type of childminder are you?

Which statement best describes you?

A: This is my family home. At the end of the day, every day, I tidy all the plastic away. I hate educational posters on my wall – I am not a nursery – and I don’t want my living room walls covered in art work drawn by other people’s kids!

B: I like to strike a balance. I don’t mind having some posters up in the playroom, but never in the living room and I certainly don’t want hand washing signs in my bathroom. This is my family home first.

C: I frequently run out of wall space for all of the kids art projects that I want to put up. I get ideas for displays by peering into school classrooms! My house looks like a little nursery and I don’t mind a bit.

 diversity awareness poster

Type A Childminders: I am NOT a nursery – this is my home!

There is no need to compromise your principles regarding your home, but especially when Ofsted are on their way, then it may be worth putting up a few posters. Ofsted likes to see welcome posters, for example, and samples of the children’s art work. It’s also nice for the children to see some of their artwork on display and a few well-chosen educational posters can benefit their learning.

However, you and your family do not want to still see this stuff once the children go home. And Ofsted doesn’t mind what your house looks like when the children aren’t around either. So the solution is a simple one: if you’re a Type A Childminder, everything you put up, needs to be removable at the end of the day.

my front hall during childminding hoursWhen you work as a childminder there are a few things that you are supposed to have on display at all times: your registration certificate, paediatric first aid certificate, and the Parent’s Poster showing the phone number for Ofsted etc. If you put these things onto a bulletin board, then you can take it all down each night and your front hallway doesn’t have to look like you are running a B&B.

my front hallway after childminded children have gone hoomeHang posters on strings that can be easily lifted down when the children leave, or put photographs into hanging plastic wallet displays that can be removed. Aim to spend no more than 5 minutes preparing your walls for the children in the morning, and have the whole house back to adult space 5 minutes after the last one leaves at the end of the day!

Even if you don’t put up anything else, here are a few key posters to consider:

 

Type B Childminders: I don’t mind having some stuff up on my walls, I just can’t bear seeing it EVERYWHERE!

Many childminders are also parents or grandparents, and so the crossover between work and home is more blurred. You might as well keep some posters up because you’d have them up already for your own children. And you might as well put artwork up, because your house is already covered in paintings your own children have done.

framed important childminding documentsMany childminders start with a bulletin board that quickly becomes tatty and overcrowded as more and more certificates and notices are added to it. One solution is to frame some of the important documents like your registration certificate and parents poster and first aid certificate. This stops those documents from getting tatty and leaves your bulletin board free for notices that may change. You can also laminate important documents which makes notice boards look tidier.

Remember, that ultimately, this is your house and your choice and don’t be ‘bullied’ into putting up more stuff than you want. Parents have chosen you because you are a childminder, and they chose a home, not a nursery.

photo wallet on back of door

If the space is used by everyone, then at the end of the day it’s nice to be able to wheel the toys away and lift down the photos on the back of door display

Type C Childminders: I have run out of wall space and love new ideas!

If you run out of wall space, try using the backs of doors for displays. I like to make seasonal displays and the backs of doors are great for giant trees where you can glue down all those Autumn leaves you collect.

our home display for childmindersThink about displays that include every child in your setting. If you can find a way to get everybody to contribute to the project then it is everybody’s display. For example, with the tree project, you can draw a tree outline, the older children can paint it or colour it in, and the little children can glue on the leaves. Try to make sure that parents SEE your best displays by putting them in places where parents will see all the wonderful things you do with the children. Displays make a great impression on visiting parents (as well as Ofsted inspectors).

talking display for childmindersOne type of display I especially enjoy making are ‘talking displays’. I combine photographs with examples of the children’s developing speech. This display from our trip to the zoo combines photographs with artwork and little quotes from the children about things they remembered from our outing.

I think a laminator is a great investment for a childminder who likes making displays. You will feel more satisfied with the finished results if you laminate stuff you are intending to keep up for a while.

 

Thoughts before your inspection

Whatever type of childminder you are, before your inspection, really think about your childminding space both from a child’s point of view and from the inspector’s point of view. Is it tidy? Is it clean and safe? Will the children learn things here? Can the children reach the toys? Are the toy boxes labelled so they can find them?  Is the children’s art work on display?  Does the setting feel welcoming? Are there plenty of photographs up celebrating achievements and the sorts of activities you do?  If not, then you may want to invest a few new posters and resources that will give that ‘outstanding’ impression to the Ofsted inspector.

welcome poster in many languages

Do you want some printable posters for your childminding setting?

My Posters Pack is a collection of printable posters for your childminding setting including educational posters (ABC charts, days of the week), bulletin board signs and notices, things Ofsted likes to see (welcome posters in many languages, diversity poster, house rules, ‘who is here today’, areas of learning and development poster, characteristics of effective learning poster) plus toy box labels and display ideas for all types of childminders. I have posters for large spaces and tiny spaces and it’s all available as part of my Posters Pack. You can customise the posters for your own setting before you print them.

You can also see inside other childminders’ houses so you can get ideas of how to use small and large spaces effectively. The prize piece from the pack is a totally unique ABC chart (printable in 3 different sizes) designed by 26 childminders from across the UK.

 

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 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.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

Don’t quit childminding until you’ve asked yourself these 13 questions

All childminders have those days when you wake up and think: I can’t do this anymore. But what about when that feeling of gloom goes on for weeks? Or months? When you reach the point where you just feel utterly miserable and can barely make yourself open the front door on a morning. If this is you, please don’t quit before you’ve asked yourself the following 13 questions:

 

  1. Are you just over-reacting to feeling a ‘bit down’?

Down patches happen to everybody, in ANY job. I don’t know a single childminder who leaps out of bed every single morning rearing to go. Long spells of bad weather can make you feel awful. Small children can be vile. But do you really feel miserable? Has this feeling been going on for a long time? Or is this just a blip? If it’s just a temporary down patch, don’t do anything hasty. Most childminders will tell you to hang in there and you’ll probably feel better again soon.

 

2. Are you sure it’s childminding that’s making you unhappy, and not something else?

When you have a lot of stress in your life, it can affect your outlook on EVERYTHING. If you are dealing with big, real other problems in other areas of your life (spouse, finances, children, illness) then even things you normally enjoy (like your work) will feel like more than you can handle. So before you quit childminding, first do some proper soul searching and make sure that it is really childminding that is making you miserable and not something else. Otherwise, if you remove childminding from your life, but it is not the real cause of your feelings, then it won’t solve the problem.

 

3. Do you have another job to go to?

I believe you should never give notice at a job until you have something else to go to. Unless childminding has made you fantastically rich and you plan to live on your savings (or your partners) in my opinion, you should be sure that you have a plan for what you will do ‘next’ before you quit.

 

4. Is your new idea really going to make you happier than childminding?

You know what they say about the grass being greener on the other side. Stop and look again at childminding. Is it really all that bad? You can make a decent amount of money, especially if you’re at the point in your life where childminding means you don’t have to pay for childcare for your own children. It’s fun and rewarding when it’s going well! And do you really want to work for someone else again when you’ve been your own boss?

 

5. Is it just the paperwork that’s getting on top of you?

childminding paperwork

Paperwork is one of the main reasons childminders quote for giving up childminding which I can understand but is a real shame because it is a problem that is easily solved. It is easy to get to the point where you feel so stressed about the paperwork that you don’t even know where to begin. Please don’t feel overwhelmed about paperwork. You are probably overcomplicating things. There are lots of companies who sell paperwork solutions especially for childminders (including me)! Before you quit childminding over paperwork, please at least take a look at my paperwork products which I promise will help you.

 

6. Are you lonely?

Talking to small children all day can be lonely, repetitious and tedious, and leaves many childminders longing for the adult company their old day job gave them. People always suggest going to childminder drop-in groups, which is great if you live somewhere that runs them, but hard if you’re somewhere that has less going on. It is also hard if you’re shy at those sorts of things and find it difficult to walk into a group of people who already know each other and make friends. Facebook has many groups where you can meet other childminders and talk online. My favourite is “Childminding For You” with 10,000 members chatting about their lives and sharing problems and successes. However, I do feel that if you have tried groups, and tried social media and these don’t work for you, then childminding is a lonely job and this is a very valid reason to move on to something new.

 

7. Can you reduce your hours?

If you can afford to reduce your hours, many childminders will tell you that this has been a life saver to them. One way to do this is that when someone leaves just don’t replace them straight away. Or switch entirely to before/after school care so you have some time in the day to yourself. Reducing your hours affects everybody and when I did it I hated letting the little boy’s parents down. However, I helped him settle into the nursery he would attend on the days I was to be ‘closed’ and did my best to make the transition smooth. In the end going from full to part time was the best decision I made. I had time to go to the gym again and energy to develop my business ideas so I didn’t feel so “trapped” any more. Trapped is a horrible feeling, so don’t quit until you’ve tried to free yourself a little.

 

8. Did you have a bad Ofsted inspection?

Not getting the grade you were hoping for at your inspection is really demoralising, but I don’t think you should quit over it. Being inspected is horrible but try to put Ofsted in perspective. They come once every 5 years or so. In between Ofsted, childminding goes on as it always has done. That’s a long time until you need to worry about them again.

 

9. Are you bored?

bored childmindingCan’t face getting the paint out again? Can’t think of anything more tedious than pushing ANOTHER child on that swing, AGAIN? Then do something different. Try a new park, try a new activity. Challenge yourself to come up with interesting new activities to do with the children. Try teaching the children something that will matter to their lives, like activities that promote diversity or safety and health. This is something I can really help you with and not a good reason to quit childminding. You will never be short of ideas if you check out my printable arts and activities packs.

 

10. Is it one particular child or one particular family that is upsetting you?

One of my favourite things to do each week when the children were small was Teddies Music Club. We danced, played instruments and I used to have loads of fun there with the children. Then we got a little boy, a one-day- a-weeker, who was just miserable. He clung to me and cried when the music started. He wasn’t settling and I was out of patience. I came to music club to dance and laugh with the fun children. And this boy was spoiling music club for me and for the others. I was so glad when he left because it stopped me from having to make a difficult decision. Was his £50/ week worth it, to totally spoil my Tuesdays and turn Teddies Music Club into an occasion that made me feel miserable and trapped? Sometimes you have to put yourself first. If you can pin it down to feeling miserable about behavioural problems from a particular child, or a horrid rude family, then don’t quit childminding until you’ve given that particular child’s family notice.

 

11. Do you just need to take a break?

childminding holidayAre you taking your holidays? I hear from far too many childminders who will tell me they haven’t had a proper holiday in years. Even if you do take holidays, you can’t put all your hope in holidays to take a break. What about the weekends? If you are looking after children all week, it is natural that on the weekends you may sometimes feel less than enthusiastic about spending yet more quality time with your own kids. One childminder friend of mine would get up at 4am every day just so she could have a bit of time to herself before the day started. That worked for her, and I tried it once, but I turned into a zombie by day 3. It is easy to get to the point where you feel you will actually explode if you don’t get some time to yourself for a while. Be honest with your friends, family and most importantly try to get your partner to understand your need for some time “off” children at weekends.

 

12. Are you feeling undervalued and underpaid?

If other childminders and nurseries in your area charge more per hour than you do, this can really get you down. Many childminders still charge the same fees per hour as they did 10 years ago. Be brave and tell parents that you are putting your prices up. You will feel a lot better about your job if you feel are being paid more fairly for the work you do.

 

13. Is your house a mess and full of baby things?

house full of plastic toysYour own children have grown into teenagers and yet childminding leaves you permanently stuck in the toddler years. There are plastic toys jammed into all the storage spaces and your spare bedroom is STILL crammed full of two cots and a change table. You’ve forgotten that doorways could ever exist without baby gates blocking them. This can be really hard to deal with. The constant feeling of never being away from work, and feeling stuck in time. If you’ve tried storage, if you’ve tried clearing things out, then this, in my opinion is one of the most genuine reasons to quit childminding because this is a feeling that builds up over time, a gradual feeling of just having had enough of it. If this is you, this really could be a sign that you’ve simply had enough and really are ready to move on and do something new. A deep feeling that you and your family have now outgrown childminding.

 

Hopefully after reading this you won’t give up after all, but maybe reading this will make you feel that it is in fact time to move on to something new. If it really is time to quit, then give yourself a quitting time scale and an ‘exit plan’, perhaps when your own child starts school or one of your mindees leaves for nursery. Having an exit plan with a time scale attached can help you to keep going until it really is time to move on to something new.

 

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.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

Planning Checklist for Childminders

Is your childminding planning system simple and structured? Do you feel your plans are actually useful to your setting, or just another Ofsted chore? Keep the following in mind when you write your childminding plans:

 

If you feel you are wasting time with planning, then you probably are.

GOOD planning is not a waste of time. It shows parents that you are a childcare professional – not ‘just a babysitter’. Good planning helps you to stay organised, ensures that you are providing a balanced and varied experience for the children you look after, and that you have the resources you need to offer the experiences you have planned.

 

Don’t overcomplicate things or you won’t be able to use your system.

Whatever system you are using for your planning needs to be usable by you every single week. The more complicated you make it, then the less likely you will be to use your own system. If the system you are using currently feels too complicated for you to maintain, then it may be time to try a new system.

 

Involve the children and the parents in writing plans for your setting.

Ofsted loves it when children are involved in the planning for your setting. It’s great to ask older children to help think of activities for younger ones. It’s also nice to ask parents what activities or themes they might like you to explore with their children. Getting parents involved in celebrating festivals that are relevant to the children in your care (like planning to celebrate Diwali if you look after a Hindu child) allows you to tick off the ‘diversity’ and ‘parent communication’ boxes in one seriously-Ofsted-impressing-activity that everyone will enjoy!

free-diversity-planning-calendar-2017-kidstogo

 

 

Plan to do something NEW this year.

Planning new things is a great way to keep yourself fresh and to keep things interesting for the children too. You might want to celebrate a festival like Diwali or Easter or Eid that you’ve never celebrated before? My free 2016 Diversity Calendar could inspire you? Or teach the children about stranger danger, or mini beasts using ideas from the Be Safe Be Healthy Pack. Whatever theme you are planning to do will require a little preparation on your part, so if you put it into your written planning then it is more likely to happen.

 

Your planning system needs to work for your whole setting AND for each individual child.

If the system you use works for your setting, but does not take into account the needs of different children in your setting, then your system needs a rethink. A planning system must work for your whole setting AND take into account the needs and interests of each individual child.

 

Learning and development observations must link into your planning.

Writing observations and next steps into your learning journeys is pointless if you don’t have a method to put those ideas into your planning. All of the ‘next steps’ you record in your learning journeys MUST link into whatever planning system you are using.

 

Get the right mix of planned activities and unstructured free-play time.

childminding free play

Children need daily opportunities for free play indoors and outdoors so that they can engage uninterrupted in activities that interest them. They also need you to organise learning activities and outings for them that address the different learning and development areas and characteristics of effective learning. Making monthly and weekly plans will help you to get the balance right.

 

What are your plans for improvements to your setting, and improvements to yourself this year?

Part of creating a year plan is to think about what new equipment, training and other resources you may want to buy for your setting this year. A formal list of this kind, made once a year, is a great way to make sure you think about your setting as a whole.

It’s also a great time of year to make plans for your own Continual Professional Development (CPD).

You might think about more training you would like to receive? You might think about getting training for special needs children or becoming a Forest Childcare Provider? All of these things directly benefit all of the children who attend your setting.

Your long term planning is a little like a performance review. It is a chance for you to take a step back and ask yourself what you do well in your setting and what could be improved. What could you buy or do differently that would help you to improve what you could offer? If you want to become a Forest Childcare Provider, for example, how would you work in weekly trips to your schedule? How would you make time? What special equipment (outdoor gear, reflective jackets, off-road buggy etc.) might you need?

 

Do you want help with planning for your setting?

Is the planning system you are currently using is too complicated? You may want to simplify things to make it easier for yourself? My Learning Journey Plus workbook takes you step by step through creating a workable, flexible and ongoing planning system for your setting. Use it to create a complete planning system from scratch or to fill in gaps and improve any system you are already using.

 

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 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.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

How NOT to be a victim of a bad Ofsted Inspection: 10 Ways to Take Control

One of the saddest types of emails I get are from childminders who feel they were the ‘victims’ of a bad Ofsted inspection. “It wasn’t fair that she didn’t…” people will say. Or “she just didn’t understand that…” Horrible, unfair Ofsted inspections (like bad job interviews) do happen and when they do are you are well within your right to make a complaint. But don’t set yourself up to be a victim. With a bit of planning you can “manage” your Ofsted inspector and take control of your inspection so it goes the way you want it to.

 

Tip 1: Modesty has no place on your Self-Evaluation Form

If you want the Ofsted inspector to think your setting is outstanding then don’t rate any sections of your practice ‘good’ or ‘requires improvement’ and hope that she will ‘read between the lines’ or realise that you want outstanding really but are being modest. People (including Ofsted inspectors) are very impressionable. Your answers to the Self Evaluation Form tell her what to expect before she arrives. If you tell your inspector that she can expect to see an outstanding setting, then she will come looking for excellence. Tell her you ‘require improvement’ and she will arrive looking for flaws.

 

Tip 2: Control those vital first impressions

Those first few moments when your Ofsted inspector arrives are crucial because she is using that time to form instantaneous impressions about you, your setting and your children. So think carefully about how you will manage those first few minutes. As she walks through your front door which way will you lead her? Will you invite her to sit at your dining table or on the couch? Will you offer her a cup of tea? If she says yes, will you really leave her alone with the children while you make her one? What if she says no to the tea? Yikes! Remember that you are actually in control of this time. Like any guest she must be polite and respectful of your home, will follow where you lead her, and respond to your social prompts. It is your house so you have the advantage here. Use it!

 

Problem Child in the Shed

Tip 3: Don’t let the problem child mess this up for you

You can’t (unfortunately) lock him in the shed when you see her car pull up for your inspection, so the best thing to do about Problem Child is to make sure the inspector is aware right from the start that Alexander has ADHD/ has dad in jail/ is completely new to your setting etc. Call it to her attention so you can show how you are planning to ‘narrow his attainment gap’ to help him to catch up with the other children as soon as possible.

 

Tip 4: Make sure you know what your local safeguarding procedures are.

You KNOW how important safeguarding is. If you don’t know what to do if you suspect that a child in your setting has been abused then you are throwing her ammunition she will definitely use against you. She won’t care how great your setting appears or anything else you’ve been doing if you appear in any way ignorant about safeguarding.

 

Tip 5: Clean and Tidy Your House

Does your push chair look like a biscuit barrel and your high chair look like a science experiment in growing mould? Does your fridge look like an E-coli outbreak just waiting to happen? These sorts of things make a really bad impression and are well within your control to get cleaned prior to your inspection.

post it notes stuck to your arm

Tip 6: Don’t wait to be asked about the great things you do

Don’t spend your inspection thinking, ‘I wish she’d ask me about this,’ or ‘why is she all focused on THIS thing, when I’ve been doing lots of THAT thing really well?’ If she doesn’t ask about something you are proud of, just bring it up. Under no circumstances should you allow her to leave until you have told her everything you wanted to! Plan how you will remind yourself about important things to tell her during the inspection even if it means sticking post it notes on your arms.

 

Tip 7: Prepare three structured activities

During your inspection your inspector will want to see you doing some structured activities with the children. Prepare three so you have more than you will probably need – under scrutiny of the inspector, you don’t want to seem stuck for ideas. While you are doing these activities she will be watching you like a hawk and making judgements on everything you do from how you talk to the children, to what they are learning, to how well the children behave to you and each other. To avoid becoming a victim of ‘bad luck’ plan the activities you will do carefully and well. And read the Inspection Handbook points 66 and 72 which spell out exactly what the inspector is hoping to see from you.

 

Tip 8: Train the children

The earlier you start training the children to behave well for your inspection, the better it will go. If you want them to sit still for your structured activities, and eat a healthy snack, and put their own shoes on with the Ofsted Inspector watching then you need to train them how to do these things well in advance of your inspection.

 

Tip 9: Focus your attention on the children, not the inspector

She is most interested in how you interact with them. She won’t really care if you don’t offer her a chair. She will care if you forget to shut the safety gate because you are talking to her about your ratios, or forget to wash the children’s hands before snack time because you are offering her a cup of tea. (Probably best to just forget the cup of tea).

 

Tip 10. Appear to know EVERYTHING about the children in your care

There is no excuse for you not to know each child’s development inside and out. You know that she is going to expect you to know this stuff, so make sure you do. You need to know those learning and development areas by heart so read Development Matters. Don’t know the Characteristics of Effective Learning? That’s like handing her a loaded gun. Get your starting points observations, planning and learning journeys up to date so that you can prove that you know where each child you look after is in terms of his or her development, what you can expect them to do next, and most importantly how you are planning to help Problem Child to catch up with the nice, easy ones you look after.

 

Don’t become a victim of a bad Ofsted inspection! With careful planning you can take control of your day of judgement and help to manage your inspector so that she sees what you want her to see and gives you the grade you deserve. For more tips and pointers including a Count Down to Your Ofsted Inspection Checklist, get your Ultimate Childminding Checklist for only £10 from my website today.

 

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 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.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

%d bloggers like this: