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Forest Childcare is about giving small children the opportunity to spend time in the great outdoors on a regular basis. It is about having a passion to deliver an outstanding outdoor experience to the children you look after. It is also a business opportunity for childminders, giving you the tools you need to fill vacancies by selling the ‘dream of the outdoors’ to parents.
Parents want their children to spend more time outdoors and to go on more outings. As a childminder you can take children on more outings than nurseries can, and this is a big selling point. If you promote it cleverly, outings can make parents choose you over a nursery or over another childminder, even one who may charge less than you do, but who doesn’t take the children on regular outings.
Photos of children enjoying themselves outdoors are eye-catching and make a great impression on new parents coming to view your setting.
It is really easy to become a Forest Childcare Provider; there is no course to attend. All you have to do is to read the short training guide which I will email to you. If you agree to the 5 Principles then you can display the certificate and promote your setting as a Forest Childcare setting to prospective parents.
When you buy Forest Childcare Association membership pack you will be emailed four Word documents:
• An Introduction to Forest Childcare booklet – which gives background information about the benefits of the outdoors to children, links to the EYFS Learning and Development areas, outlines the 5 Principles of Forest Childcare, and gives you thoughts on practicalities, safety concerns and risk assessments associated with outdoor outings
• 50 Crafts and Activities for Forest Childcare – craft activities with printable templates all with outdoor themes, scavenger hunts and other outdoor activities suitable for 2-5 year old children
• Business Tools for Forest Childcare– text you can use to advertise your service to help you to fill vacancies, plus all the forms and permission letters you will need for parents
• Self-certification – a certificate you can display at your setting to say that you are a Forest Childcare Provider, plus information to show parents
Forest Childcare Association Membership is a one-time purchase; you don’t need to renew your membership. Once you buy the pack you are a member for life.
There are five Principles of Forest Childcare. If you agree to the Five Principles, then you can call yourself a Forest Childcare Provider, sign and display the certificate and tell parents that you provide a Forest Childcare experience to the children you look after. If you don’t agree with the Principles, then you may still enjoy the 50 crafts and outdoor activities, but you shouldn’t display the certificate or call yourself a Forest Childcare provider.
1. The Forest Childcare Provider takes the children to an outdoor environment normally once a week.
2. Forest Childcare outings are made as safe as is reasonably possible by the childcare provider while encouraging children to learn to take their own risks.
3. Forest Childcare outings are taken all year long, so children go outside whatever the weather.
4. The Forest Childcare Provider offers a mixture of planned and child-led play activities to the children.
5. The Forest Childcare Provider is first aid certified.
When you buy a Forest Childcare Pack you will be emailed a Word document containing 50 crafts and activities with outdoor themes including scavenger hunts and photo matching sheets for use with 2-5 year old children. The craft activities all have templates and instructions and are adaptable to younger children or to older ones you may look after in the holidays.
All of the projects have outdoor themes including weather, flowers and trees, birds, wildlife, mini beasts and Earth Day. There are also projects involving collecting things, various scavenger hunts, plus some very simple photo matching projects for the very young ‘can you spot a tree stump, a daisy etc.’
Stained glass snails
Mini hedgehog cakes
Ladybirds in the grass
Forest Childcare is a ‘brand’. It is about giving a name to something that you may already do at your setting – taking the children out to spend time enjoying the great outdoors. Calling this ‘Forest Childcare’ instead of just an ‘outing’ and giving yourself the qualification of ‘Forest Childcare Provider’ instead of just another ‘childminder on an outing’ is a way of making you and your setting stand out. It gives you an advantage over childcare providers who don’t offer this ‘sought after service’ to parents.
Ask yourself why is your setting special? Why should parents pay more for your setting than for the cheaper childminder down the street? One of these reasons could be because you are a Forest Childcare Provider and are giving parents a better childcare experience for their precious little ones.
Many parents will be delighted to imagine that while their child is with you they aren’t spending their days stuck inside one crowded little room at a nursery. Instead, their child is spending his or her childhood having a marvellous time, enjoying the great outdoors with the best childminder around!
The importance of outdoor learning is recognised by the EYFS in terms of the positive impact it can have on children’s well-being and development. All EYFS childcare providers should try and give the children they look after daily opportunities to play outdoors.
Forest Childcare can help to:
• Teach children to appreciate trees, fields, ponds and woods by spending time in the natural environment
• Improve emotional and physical wellbeing of children and the adults who look after them
• Improve children’s concentration, perseverance, cooperation and motivation skills
• Help children to stay fit and counter obesity because children move around naturally outdoors while they play
• Let off steam
• Provide opportunities for developing harmonious relationships with others, through negotiation, taking turns and cooperation
• Improve physical skills gained from opportunities to run and balance
• Build knowledge and understanding of the world
• Provide rich opportunities for imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness
The Forest Childcare Association is a best practice initiative for childcare providers who want to demonstrate their commitment to taking small children outdoors on a regular basis. It is up to the childcare provider to train themselves, self-certify and agree to uphold the five principles at their childcare setting. It should not be confused with a Forest School accreditation which involves training over a period of time and assessment by an external body.
Are you interested in earning a proper Forest School qualification? There are lots of levels you can choose from. As a member of the Forest Childcare Association you can receive a 10% discount when you sign up to train as a Forest School Practitioner Level 3 through Archimedes Forest Schools.
Forest Childcare is really about much more than just filling vacancies and impressing parents. It is about feeling that at the end of the day you are offering children the very best childcare available. Your Ofsted inspector is bound to be impressed. By offering a Forest Childcare experience for the children you care for, you are doing far more than the bare minimum of care, you are providing those children with outstanding outdoor experiences that they will carry forwards into the rest of their lives.
To join the Forest Childcare Association please buy a Forest Childcare Pack from my ordering page for £15. The pack will be emailed to you. This is a one time fee for a lifetime membership.
From listening to other childminders there's lots unhappy re pre schools taking children from age 2, so losing business. I've had two families change their mind and reverted back to me from pre school, purely due to forest outings. I would encourage childminders to join, take lots of photos to show parents. It's something different and best done in small groups of all ages. Best Wishes, Karen
Many thanks for my recent orders - Forest Childcare Pack and SEF Model Answers. Firstly, I was delighted that they arrived so quickly. This is much appreciated as I seem to be 'in the zone" to write my Self Evaluation at the moment. Secondly I want to say how brilliant your "50 Crafts and Activities for Forest Childcare" is. I enjoy arts and crafts and have read several books but I am especially pleased with your craft book; all the activities are pitched at a good level (not too easy, not too hard), and the links across different areas of learning are great. Even though I'm not working today, I have already made the "Two Little Dicky Birds" craft activity with my daughter and she has really enjoyed playing with it. Thank you. Natasha
I am still quite new to childminding but I was a nanny for over 20 years. I have always taken the children I look after on outings to woods, parks, walking and feel it’s really important for their development. Although all the parents I work with and those that come for potential childcare know that I do these types of activities, it never occurred to me to advertise myself as “offering Forest Childcare” before. Thank you so much. Tonight I plan on writing down lots of ideas to display the great pictures I have of the children while we are in the woods. Kay Hartburn
I love the outdoors and nature so the Forest Childcare pack was perfect for my setting. It has been well received by the parents and all the children and has inspired us to go on lots of woodland walks, make dens, hunt for mini beast, pond dipping and climbing trees. I have even bought a mud kitchen for my garden and the children love making mud pies and mud potions. I have made good use of most of the wonderful templates for creative craft activities, that all go towards essential planning for the children. Thank you Rachel Tanswell from South Yorkshire
Thank you again. You have made me think about my business in a different way. I was always enthusiastic (even after 25 years of looking after other peoples children) about the activities that I offer the children I but your packs have given me more know-how on how to display things better and how to use it more effectively.
The Forest Childcare idea was particularly well received by all my parent's. I have always been keen on outdoor activity and your idea gave me the chance to offer structure that parents and the children have really taken on board. We have produced some lovely displays with photo's and information about our adventures in forests, parks and woods. Regards, Gaynor
You have put into words so beautifully all the things I strive to achieve. Thank you :) Louise
I love all of the products. We always went on weekly outings prior to my obtaining the Forest Childcare membership. These materials help to support our outings and to give new ideas for outdoor activities. I am currently in the process of becoming a Healthy Early Years setting and these materials are being used to evidence my outdoor activities. The materials also help to demonstrate to parents how important outdoor learning is for their child and sharing the activities with them supports my working in partnership with them. They also encourage parents to get out and about with their children. Regards, Jessica
You may remember I joined the ranks as a Forest Childcarer in the summer. I wanted to say thank you as I have now had my first ever graded Ofsted Inspection and got a 'Good.' The Inspector I had said this was excellent for someone with so liitle Early Years experience (I've only had kids since Mid September,) and said she would expect me to soon be Outstanding! As you can imagine I am thrilled and I am also convinced it is part to the inspiration I have got from being a Forest Childcarer as I was able to show that I go the extra mile (sometimes literally!) for the kids in my care so thank you! Jennifer
Thank you so much for this amazing pack! As a childminder who already embraces the values & principals of 'Forest Childcare' it's great to have found a way to reinforce my practice & communicate this to parents. I love the resources you've included in the pack & I will be recommending the Forest Childcare Association to other childminders / professionals. Many thanks, Louise
Taking children to outdoor spaces so that they can spend time appreciating the beauty and excitement of nature is what Forest Childcare is all about