Monday, 1 November 2010

Childminding Assistants

More and more childminders are taking on assistants to work with them.

The assistant might help out with deliveries and collections of children so the childminder can cover 2 settings or the assistant might be around at a busy time of the week and contribute to the general running of the provision while playing games and supporting the children’s learning and development.

Assistants can be a real boost to a childminding provision, offering a second pair of eyes on outings and giving their input into planning, observation, risk assessments etc.

However, employing an assistant is not as simple a process as it might first appear and there are many areas which must be considered before an assistant starts working with you.

I have written this e-book from the point of view of the childminder who wants to employ an assistant and who wants to simplify the process as much as possible while ensuring s/he meets all the statutory and legal requirements.

I would like to thank Denise for her input and support in the initial stages of writing this e-book and for sharing paperwork with me.

The e-book is priced at £3.99 and is available from my website.

Thank you!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Children and thinking

Do you give children time to think?

‘What an odd question’, I hear you say.

’Of course children think... I spend all day chatting to them, asking them questions, showing them new things, playing with them, taking an interest in their toys and games...’

Yes, I know all that, but do they have time to really think?

Go back over today...

Did you give each child choices ... and wait for them to answer... and then follow what they said...?

What about the child who takes forever to make up her mind? Did you ask for her choice or decide on her behalf because it was quicker and you were in a rush?

Did you ask children to tell you about their favourite part of the day? Did they have an opinion or a story to tell you?

Did you ask them the question at a time in the day when you had nothing else to do but sit and listen to their answer?

Did you leave children to play their own games for a length of time, without asking questions or getting involved?

If you can answer yes to the above then you are respecting each child as an individual with a valid opinion and giving them time in the day to think.


Here are some more questions to help you examine your practice...

If a child was playing with the doctor’s kit and making all the animals better what would you be more likely to do..?

1. Leave him to play because he is having fun;

2. Go over and chat to him because you feel you really should explain the differences between doctors and vets;

3. Interrupt his game to show him where the pad and pencil are located in case he wants to write a prescription.

If a child comes to you with a conker what would you be more likely to do...?

1. Ask him to tell you the colour of the conker;

2. Comment on how shiny and smooth the conker is and encourage him to feel it with his fingers;

3. Ask him where he found the conker and listen to his story about a weekend spent in the woods with his daddy.

At story time one child tells you he wants to carry on playing with the Lego. Would you jolly him along with promises of Lego later so that he comes and joins you ... or would you respect his wishes and leave him to play?


Giving children time to think is not just about asking questions.

In truth I think that sometimes we all ask far too many questions and interrupt children’s play too often to follow our own agendas!

Giving children time to think is about our own listening skills... how have you used your listening skills today?

Why not try using them a little more every day? :-)

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Equality Act 2010 and childminders

The Equality Act 2010 affects...

• All childminders;

• All early years providers including Nurseries, Playgroups, pre-schools etc;

• Childminders (and early years providers) who employ others, including assistants;

• Childminders who work together with other childminders.

The Equality Act 2010 is law in England, Scotland and Wales and draws together the contents of a number of previous documents including the Disability Discrimination Act.

The Equality Act 2010 says that everyone has a legal duty to be inclusive, which means that, as childminders, we must offer an inclusive service to children, their families and any visitors to our homes.

The Equality Act 2010 also says that everyone must be anticipatory... we must not wait for something to happen or someone to knock on our door looking for care before thinking about how the Equality Act might affect us.

This new e-book is written in the format of an inclusion audit - an audit is a type of reflective practice. The audit in this e-book gives you an easy way of checking your current commitment to equality and considering how you might be more inclusive in the future.

I have spent time examining the Equality Act in detail and I have included lots of background information and support to help all childminders and early years providers get to grips with the Act.

E-book 47 – The Equality Act 2010 - £4.99

Happy reading :-)

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Eyfs - 2 years on

We are discussing the EYFS – 2 years on at the moment on the childminding forum - A group of new and established childminders are thinking about life before and after EYFS and considering its effect on our working practices and our lives in general.

The consensus seems to be that we are happy to have a clearly defined document to follow, which gives us a clear way of working and a set of standards we can embrace. Most childminders say that they enjoy using the EYFS and feel that is has raised outcomes for all children.

Some childminders comment that the EYFS has allowed them to work in much better partnership with other settings (the parent partnership requirements were already securely in place in most instances). However, working with other settings is made harder when the other settings are disinterested in hearing what the childminder has to say or when they treat the childminder as a babysitter.

Indeed, many childminders comment that many other early years professionals still see them as ‘babysitters’ rather than professionals on the same level. This makes childminders very frustrated as many have re-trained, taken courses and updated their knowledge with internet research (and buying my e-books!) so they can fulfil the EYFS requirements.

However, many childminders clearly have some grave concerns about the EYFS. These are mostly related around the amount of time it takes many childminders to fulfil the statutory and guidance requirements of the EYFS. Paperwork is usually only do-able in the evenings and at weekends due to caring for various ages of children during the day who need our constant attention. This means that family lives are suffering as a result.

Many childminders comment that they wish Ofsted were consistent about their expectations during the inspection process. There are outstanding childminders who do very little paperwork... while other childminders graded good have been told to improve their practice by doing more paperwork! Similarly the requirements of the EYFS say that the Self Evaluation Form (SEF) is not a statutory requirement, yet childminders are being told to improve by completing their SEF ready for their next inspection!

Many childminders have stories to tell about inconsistencies from Ofsted and I feel, having read all the comments, that this is the biggest worry for most... are they doing enough? Are they doing too much? What is enough and will 2 Ofsted inspectors ever agree on the subject?

It will be interesting to see what the Tickhill review of the EYFS throws up and whether the Government tells Ofsted to be more consistent about their expectations so that childminders can be trusted to carry on doing what we do best – play with children :-)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Information Commissioners Office

Childminders have been told that we are now classed as 'data handlers' if we use a computer or digital camera to hold information about childminded children or their families.

Since most childminders take photos of childminded children to help meet the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (Eyfs) it affects us all.

So, I duly paid my £35 annual fee to the Information Commissioners Office and I can now use my camera, computer and any other digital devices to hold information about the children.

Now this is something I do not quite understand... before I paid this fee, I used to take photos, immediately print them and then delete...

Now I can take photos, store them on memory sticks, put them on my computer, upload them (with parents permission), send them online for printing etc.

Similarly, before I paid this fee, I never used my computer to process information about children, it was all done by hand.

Now I am busily typing up reports, summary assessments etc and preparing my invoices and other forms on the computer before printing.

While this has undoubtedly made my life easier and speeded up the monthly paper production process, I am doing far more on my computer and camera than ever before... and I am at a complete loss to see how paying £35 has made things safer for children!

If anyone can answer that one, please let me know!

Talk soon xx

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Information for new childminders

Since writing my e-book 42 'Registration advice for new childminders' I have received a number of emails from new and potential childminders asking me for follow-up e-books explaining other areas of the registration process.

For this reason, I have put together a series of 3 mini e-books, which are priced at £1.45 each and which cover...

Mini 34 - Writing a business plan;

Mini 35 - Marketing your business;

Mini 36 - Meeting with parents.

The 3 mini e-books follow on from each other and give essential advice on everything from business planning to getting your marketing right to welcoming parents and children into your home.

The 3 mini e-books are available from my websites...

Knutsford Childminding and Knutsford Childminding.

I hope you find them useful :)

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Inclusion, childminders and the EYFS

Inclusion forms a big part of the EYFS.

Most childminders have been approached at some point in their working life to care for children with conditions ranging from eczema to ADHD, from asthma to threadworm.

This e-book aims to support you in effectively caring for these children ... I have done the research for you so when you talk to the parents you will already have some background knowledge of the child’s condition.

I have also included information about how to write a care plan and how to effectively manage a child's condition while meeting the requirements of the EYFS.

Please remember that every child is different and parents know their child best.

There are over 100 pages of information laid out over 3 chapters... and I will research any conditions for you if you need more information, just email me -

I know that nobody will need all the information included in this e-book every day, so I hope I have priced it for buying as a useful reference book to keep in your files and dip into when needed.

This new e-book is priced at - £3.99

It is available from my website... my e-books are now set out over 4 pages!!

Thank you! :)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Making a den

There is a bit of unused space in between 2 computer desks and I have often wondered what to do with it...

I have not previously encouraged children to use it because it has printers to the side and some cables to the back of one of the desks which, while not risk assessed as dangerous, didn’t make it a particularly inviting space.

After some thought, Nige made me 2 wooden sides for the computer desks which removed the issues of the cables and printer and left a small rectangle of usable space.

At Early Excellence in Huddersfield, I received a voucher to purchase resources and decided to buy some pretend grass and a large woven circular (quite shallow) basket. I also bought a large ethnically inspired cushion from a local shop.

I then found a length of green net material which can be draped across the space and held in place by the computer monitors so it is easily removed when not in use.

My thought was to set up the space and see if the children were interested in exploring it with any resources. The first child to go in there is aged nearly 3. He took a train, block and teddy with him and curled up for a short while playing with his toys. This sparked interest from the other children who wanted to see what he was doing.

Over the next few days a few other children explored the space, taking various resources with them. A 5 year old sat and read her school book in there and another 5 year old introduced the caring, cosy side of the space by bringing a tired dolly who needed some peace to go to sleep.

Inspired by the children’s enjoyment of the newly created space, I decided to see what might happen if I introduced some resources for them.

I popped a soft bodied doll, small baby blanket, sensory doll book (from the ‘That’s not my...’ series) and comb into the basket I bought from Early Excellence to see what would happen.

Very quickly, the doll had a friendly dinosaur to play with and she was untucked from her blanket because she wanted to read the book. Since then she has been asleep and awake as various children have played with her – yet when she was in a box with a group of other dolls, she was largely ignored.

Next week I intend to put some other resources into the basket and see what happens!

Happy days! :-)