Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Childcare Expo Manchester 2017

Are you going to the Childcare Expo at Event City in Manchester this year? The dates are Friday 16th and Saturday 17th June.

We try to go every year – we used to travel down to Coventry and we were delighted when it was announced that the Expo was returning to Manchester!

We go to meet colleagues and catch up with the latest gossip and we go to find the most up-to-date information and advice from early years suppliers. We always get lots of inspiration from talking to the stallholders and looking through the displays – it is easy to feel isolated in our job as childminders and Expo gives us an ideal opportunity to share practice with colleagues and experts in the field.

I have been looking at the seminars this year and trying to decide which to attend. I will be going on the Saturday because on Friday I am working in a local Nursery with my consultant hat on. Typically, the Friday seminars look good this year – I love the work of Alistair Bryce-Clegg (I was lucky enough to hear him speak last year and I signpost his TedTalk during training) and I would like to know more about the 30 hours from Childcare Works but I can’t make it … so I looked through the Saturday seminars instead!

I think the ‘workforce challenges’ presentation by PLA looks good but is probably more for group providers; the ‘observation tool kit’ from Di Chilvers sounds interesting… hmmm I think you will find me there and it will finish nicely for lunch too! There are more seminars in the afternoon – maths, mental health and wellbeing outside and achieving ‘outstanding’ which I sadly won’t be able to attend because I have to leave straight after lunch but I am sure colleagues will support them.

I have been looking at the exhibitors this year and trying to decide who to see first – Community Playthings is always a favourite – I wonder if they are giving away any freebies this year?! Creative Steps of course to check out the magazines… I got some lovely displays from Outside Classroom Boards last year… Yorkshire Purchasing now offer deals for childminders so I’ll be on their stand… there will be so much to see I’ll have to set an alarm on my phone to remember the seminar!

I will be incognito this year… I have booked under my married name … it will be lovely to meet up with colleagues and have a chat … look out for me! I’ll be the one peering at badges hunting for childminders!

Chat soon, Sarah x

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Childminders and daily routines

I have been asked – how do you comply with the requirement to inform parents about their child’s daily routines?

My reply – the EYFS 2017 (and the previous EYFS 2014) states:

3.73 Providers must make the following information available to parents and/or carers:
• The range and type of activities and experiences provided for children, the daily routines of the setting, and how parents and carers can share learning at home.

The EYFS 2017 clarifies that the word 'must', when used in the requirements, means we must do something - rather than 'should' which means we need a good reason not to do something.

Therefore, I take this to mean parents need to be informed about their child's daily routine.

I do this in 3 main ways -

1. We have a parent who wants to know where their child is going every day if we take them off the premises. She wanted us to phone her asking permission every time we went out but we cannot realistically do that - she can't answer the phone all day when she's working and it's not something I was prepared to do - so we compromised and I have a display board that says 'today we are going to...' and it takes me a few minutes as part of my routine to change it every morning.

2. I email parents diaries - the same basic layout of diary for each child. The diaries say 'we have done xx and been to yy and your child...' and share information about something special or new or different that each child has done or said that I want to share. They then say 'you might like to follow up at home...' or 'ask me about...' to prompt parents to have a conversation with their child about their day and to provide parents, in a gentle and respectful way, with ideas for how they can ‘share learning at home’.

I find it takes me a lot less time to email diaries than it used to when I was writing them because I have a template on my computer and I simply keep it open and fill it in quickly when I have a moment. The ‘talk to me about…’ comments at the end are part of the way we constantly share observations of the child’s learning with parents as well and I often add a ‘tell me about…’ section at the end prompting parents to let me know about their child’s home learning – if they don’t reply by email (most do – email is a great way of communicating with our current parents) I ask them verbally the next morning.

3. We have a daily routine which shares the 'rhythm' of our day with parents - it doesn't detail every breath and toilet visit but it says when their child is likely to eat and the sort of things we do morning and afternoon. That is emailed to parents when their child starts and updated as and when it changes to include, for example, a different school run or a new outing location...

We also chat to most of our parents at the end of the day and I let them know what their child has been doing during that conversation. I say ‘most of our parents’ because sometimes children need a doorstep handover and we are unable to have that conversation which is why I share information with parents as part of my daily routine in other ways as well.

Childminders share information with parents in lots of different ways.

When a parent first comes to visit it’s important to give them a copy of the EYFS requirements – you will find a free guide for parents to the EYFS and Childcare Register here.

Other colleagues do written daily diaries instead of the email ones I send out – I find email quicker but it’s up to you how you share information – and remember that there is no requirement in the EYFS to write daily diaries if you can show evidence of sharing information in other ways.

Some colleagues update parents via WhatsApp, email or on a secure Facebook group during the day – however, you do have to be careful this does not impact on your time with the children and parents don’t get the impression you are on social media all day!

Doorstep chats are great if you have parents who engage int hat way – you can write their comments into their child’s file later - I use red pen so it clearly shows ‘mum said…’ or ‘dad commented that…’.

Some childminders send parents messages to say what they are going to do the following week – you can use WhatsApp, email or a secure Facebook group or other ways that work for you and parents.

Thank you to childminders on the Independent Childminders Facebook group for sharing some of the ways you communicate with parents to support others.

It is important to be flexible within your daily routine – let parents know that, depending on children’s moods, spontaneous conversations that lead to different activities and the weather what you intend doing might change.

I hope that helps. Chat soon, Sarah x