Making the decision to quit my job in 2013 and become a childminder is the best thing I’ve ever done, not just for myself, but for my family. My only regret is I didn’t do it sooner.
Despite me being very passionate about my job, I sometimes get the feeling even some of my friends and family don’t actually know what a childminder does. One friend once said to me “…at least you don’t have to go to work everyday and can be at home with your kids”.
Childminding is a LOT of work and it doesn’t just stop when the children go home for the day. There’s still daily diaries, observations, registers, planning etc to complete, as well as tidying and cleaning up at the end of the day and preparing for the next day….and somewhere in-between I need to find time to be with my own family and young children.
What is a childminder?
Childminding isn’t just an informal arrangement between friends to babysit their kids or pick them up from school. A childminder is a person who works from their own home, caring for children in return for payment for more than 2 hours a day.
Childminders have to undertake the relevant local authority training course, be registered and inspected by the regional governing body (Ofsted in England, CSSIW in Wales and Care Commission in Scotland), be paediatric first-aid trained and run their own business by being self-employed.
There are around 50,000 childminders in England and we’re often the first choice for many families looking for a home-from-home setting for their babies and wrap round care for school children.
The number of childminders in the UK is actually declining with many citing the low pay, never-ending paperwork and pressure to teach (even though many of us are not trained to do so) as reasons for leaving the role.
Childminders have much smaller ratios than nurseries and preschools meaning children can be cared for in relaxed environments similar to being at home. We take children on shopping trips, to the library and the park. Children help with cooking, gardening, shopping and become a part of the childminders family.
The children I care before become like siblings to my own children who have loved having a constant supply of play mates round everyday!
What are the legal requirements for childminders?
Childminders have to follow and comply with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework which is a statutory document. The EYFS sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.
As of September 2015, we are now also inspected under the Common Inspection Framework which is how Ofsted inspect all early years settings (as well as maintained schools and academies).
All childminders must carry public liability insurance and business insurance to drive with child-minded children in their cars. They must have completed an introductory training course and update paediatric first aid training every 3 years. We also have to comply with local planning, fire and food hygiene laws as well as health and safety legislation. Childminders and anyone else over 18 years of age living in your home must also have DBS checks (Disclosure and Baring Service) in place.
By not meeting the above requirements we may face immediate closure and can even lose our registration.
What paperwork does a childminder need to do?
When starting out as a childminder it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the masses amount of paperwork, especially if you belong to a childminding forum or Facebook group as I find many childminders do far too much. Below is some of the paperwork I complete. I keep mine simple and certainly don’t spend hours of my own time during evenings and weekends doing it.
Although the majority of parents aren’t interested in Learning Journies and Progress Trackers for their children they just want them to be happy and cared for we have to do the majority of this to meet the EYFS standards.
- Fridge/freezer temperatures
- Daily check lists
- Visitor logs
- Accident / Medicine forms
- Observations (if there is any, I usually do 1 – 2 a month per child)
- Planning for the following week
- Menu planning for the next 4 weeks
- Invoices and receipts
- Summative Assessments
- Next Steps
- Risk Assessments (update every 6 months)
- Policies and Procedures (update when needed)
- Parent questionnaires
- Annual tax return
- Update SEF (Self Evaluation Form) as and when
- 2 Year Progress Checks
- Transition reports
- Attend relevant training courses
- Update CPD (Continuos Professional Development)
Even those working in a local preschool were shocked recently when I asked them if they would like me to send them a copy of a child’s Learning Journey. They honestly didn’t know that childminders also complete observations, assessments, trackers and next steps etc just the same as they do.
What does a day in the life of a childminder look like?
No two days are the same for me and I have different aged children on different days. My opening hours are Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm but many childminders work longer hours with some also working at the weekend. The days are long and exhausting with the bum changing, nose wiping, snuggling babies, chasing round the garden, playing hide n seek for the 18th time, preparing food and cleaning never ending but it’s an extremely rewarding and enjoyable role.
A typical day might look something like this:
- 8am – children arrive and settle, we have breakfast together and I clear away whilst they have free play before getting ready for the school run.
- 8:45am – walk children to school. From here we might attend a morning playgroup, visit another childminder or take a trip to a park. At home, children take part in free play and I come alongside them during play, helping extend activities if needed and mentally note any observations I may see to write down later.
- 10am – prepare and serve a healthy snack.
- 10:30am – nappy changes and naps for babies or those that need it.
- 11am – we might have song or story time, play in the garden or do a craft or some messy play before tidying up ready for lunch.
- 11:30am – prepare a fresh healthy lunch, help those with feeding that need it and clear away. Whilst they’re eating I usually start preparing tea.
- 12pm – naps for those that need it or quiet activities for older children such as reading them books, or colouring or puzzles. If all the children sleep I use this time to catch up on any paperwork.
- 2pm – planned activity or free play, nappy changes, naps for babies.
- 2:30pm – prepare a healthy snack / nappy changes. Sometimes we squeeze in half an hour at the park before the school run.
- 2:45pm – get ready and leave for school/nursery pick up
- 3:30pm – get back from school and children either help prepare tea or set the table, older children might read to the younger ones, or I might have a planned activity ready whilst I cook.
- 4:15pm – Tea time
- 4:45pm – tidy up time and get ready to go home
- 5pm – Close
Once finished for the day I usually have a crazy hour finishing the tidying, cleaning and putting away travel cots, prams, highchairs etc before bathing my own kids and putting them to bed.
Once asleep I complete any unfinished diaires, weekly paperwork, attend training courses, reply to any parents texts / emails and set up activities ready for the next day.
So childminding definitley isn’t like being a stay at home mum and it isn’t the same as babysitting. The childminders I know work extremely hard and love the children they care for like their own. We constantly worry if the children are happy, stimulated, developing, hungry, tired, warm, cold. It’s a full on job that I wouldn’t change for the world and I feel so priviliaged to be a part of the Little Tots lives and share many special and fun moments with them.
This post is part of a series of posts on ‘What Every Parent Needs to Know About Childcare‘ by other in home childcare providers so please go and check out their posts below:
5 Myths About Early Childhood Educators by Preschool Inspirations
What an In-Home Preschool Looks Like by Things to Share and Remember
8 Truths About Home Daycare by Where Imagination Grows
More Than Just a Provider by Little Sprouts Learning
Not “Just” a Preschool Teacher by Stay At Home Educator