Saturday, 20 June 2009

Child Care Magazine and Knutsford Childminding

This months’ Child Care magazine - http://www.professionalchildcare.co.uk/ features quotes from 3 members of the Childminding Forum - www.childmindingforum.co.uk – Lyn, Alison and me!!

The article is called 'You are what you eat'.

We were contacted by writer Siobhan O’Neill - http://siobhan-oneill.moonfruit.com/ who asked us for our thoughts on food, nutrition and EYFS age children.

We were asked to comment on whether we thought it was a good idea for the Government to get involved in giving out pre-school dietary advice (like they do with school age children’s nutrition) and how childminders feel generally about food for the under 5s.

A while ago, when I was writing e-book 21 ‘Healthy Eating’ (which is available from my website - www.knutsfordchildminding.co.uk), I researched the information available for pre-school diets and found it patchy to say the least. While school children’s diets are planned carefully with only a certain amount of fat and sugar and no salt allowed, pre-school providers are not given any guidance at all, even though we are closely involved (along with parents of course) in shaping children’s eating patterns at a crucial growth period in their little lives.

There was even a recent study which showed that some pre-school settings are feeding children too healthily and forgetting that they need a certain amount of carbohydrates and fats to give them enough energy to get through their busy days!

It did occur to me as I was reading the article that we are only a part of the jigsaw – it is all well and good the Government starting to postulate on what we are feeding children but what about the parents?? I know a parent who used to give her 9 month old child crisps (because he liked them); over the years I have watched children skipping down the path with sweets (because they have been good) and arriving with lollies for breakfast (because otherwise they would not leave the house in time)...

It does make me wonder if perhaps it is some parents (not all of course) rather than childminders who need to be the focus of at least the first wave of advice if the Government chooses to take on the pre-school dietary challenge.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts :)

Monday, 1 June 2009

Risk Taking and Childminders

Taking risks with other people’s children

We all want our children to be safe... parents want to leave their child with a childminder or other setting and feel that they will be carefully monitored and that risks will be assessed so they do not come to any harm.

I know as a parent myself I would be distressed if anything happened to my child while he was in the care of another person. Would I sue a nursery if my child broke their leg while in their care? Possibly, because I would suffer from loss of earnings. Would the Nursery take it personally? Probably not, because nurseries are usually large concerns and their insurance company would deal with everything for them.

Now put yourself in the position of a childminder – the childminder takes 2 children to a park which she has previously risk assessed as safe. She is carefully watching one child who is on the slide when the other dashes off like a giddy thing straight into the path of a swing. The childminder calls the ambulance, deals with the children, writes up the incident when she gets home, informs Ofsted and RIDDOR... then the parent announces he is going to sue her.

There is a big difference between negligence and an accident, but nowadays the lines seem to be blurred. We are told, as childminders, by the media and other eminent professionals to allow children to take calculated risks and yet we run the risk at every turn of being sued by parents because their child has had an accident. For goodness sake, we have to hold on to our paperwork for 21 years and 6 months in case a young adult we used to look after decides to sue us for something that happened when she was a baby!

Does this mean we must wrap children in cotton wool, just in case..? no, good practice tells us that we should –

• Ask children questions which make them think about situations;

• Give children time to think and reply;

• Use books, road safety campaigns, websites etc to support their learning;

• Help children to explore risk, assessed depending on their age and stage of development;

• Write any behaviour goals with the children’s input;

• Remind children why you have asked them to do something eg can you remember why you should pick up the cars when you have finished playing with them?

• Show children how to use the mop and cloths if they have spilled water... etc

This is an interesting article if you want to learn more - http://www.playlink.org/services/risk_and_play/.

I have also discussed many different ways to enable children to consider their own safety in my e-book 24 ‘Safety Checklists’ which is available from my website.

Here’s to an accident free summer! 