The life of a childminder
Firstly, what is a childminder?
A childminder is a professional childcare provider offering high quality childcare from their own homes. Childminders have regular inspections from Ofsted, or their childminding agency, follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework (EYFS), the same as other childcare settings do, such as a nursey, and regularly complete training relevant to their work including first aid and safeguarding.
Childminders are often seen as an extension to a child’s family and they can make a huge difference to children’s lives.
A little bit about me
I am a mum to 3 girls, Morgan who’s 22, Evelyn who is 11, and Robyn who is 6. I am married to Dave who also worked with me as a childminder assistant for 8 years before continuing his career in IT in 2017.
I have been a childminder for over 18 years and at first, I wasn’t sure it would be for me. I had no idea what to expect….I didn’t even know any childminders (other than the lovely lady who used to be a childminder and cared for me when I was a toddler).
I was a young single mum working in a nursery, juggling that work/family balance. When my oldest daughter was young, she would come to the nursery with me that I worked at, but as she got closer to school age, I started to wonder who was going to drop her off and pick her from school? There was no wrap around care available at the local school at the time, or from the nursery I worked at, even though it was only across the road. Friends and family had mentioned childminding to me in the past, but I was really against it as I had no idea what it involved. Sadly, there were a few issues at the nursery I worked at that really upset me and I ended up handing in my notice without even thinking about what I was going to do next. Being a single mum, I needed to earn. I needed to be able to pay the rent and put food on the table.
I knew I wanted to stay working in childcare so I made that jump and started to make enquiries about how to set up as a childminder and find out exactly what it involved. It was all a bit daunting, but it was easier than I thought it would be finding the information that I needed. I booked myself onto a childminding information evening, which luckily was local as I didn’t drive, and things weren’t available online back then like they are now. There was a lot to do but I came out of that information session thinking I could do this and decided to give it a go. It did take near 9 months to get registered with Ofsted (I don’t think it takes as long now) and set up including the application, an introduction to childminding course, first aid training, safeguarding training and an initial Ofsted visit to make sure the home was safe, and I was suitable for the role (a bit like an interview). The rest is now history.
Its not an easy job at all, especially when you have your own young children, but it is very rewarding, and I would recommend it to anyone passionate about childcare and development.
I am very fortunate to have a conservatory which I use as my play room but we also use the lounge and dining room as well as the garden. Our 3 children have grown up with my child-minding career and enjoy it just as much as I do….most of the time anyway. They do have the odd days where they just want to be alone after school and not be bothered by other children but generally, they enjoy having other children here to play and will often help me. You don’t need a huge space to be a childminder, or expensive resources. The things my minded children play with most are the toy kitchen with a real tea set, homemade playdough, building blocks (some from scraps of wood, just sanded down to make them safe), car tyres, a plank of decking, sand and water. The main things is making the children feel safe and secure, neuturing their needs, and having an undertsanding of child development to support the children on their learning journey. You will add toys and resources along the way following the children interests eg I bought a second hand pirate ship last year as the children were interested in pirates.
We have lots of fun being, pirates, Sonic the hedgehog, Pj masks, Builders, Shop keepers, Chefs and customers, mums and dads, teachers, and more.
We look for and watch snails on the school run, then make our own using playdough. Collect blocks of wood from the playhouse, put on Hi-Vis jackets, and hard hats and pretend to be builders, using lots of vocabulary, and using pencils and a note pad, or chalk on the patio, to pretend to make a building plan.
This week I have been looking at the transition to school document. This is a nice opportunity to write about the children, who are going off to school soon, and really see how far they have come. The hardest bit is trying not to write too much! There have been a few things I have wanted to see if the children can definitely do before I add it to their report, things like number recognition, so I have followed the children’s interest that involves treasure and we have hidden numbers around the house and garden, along with some shiny treasure, for the children to find. We have then looked at the numbers and counted the treasure found.