Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 10: Spring 2016

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter issue 10 Spring 2016 (2)

Welcome to the Spring 2016 Childminding Best Practice Newsletter. I produce this newsletter four times a year to promote childminding best practice topics with a focus on safety, health, diversity awareness and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). I also use it to highlight any changes to legislation or policy that may affect your childminding business.

Download this newsletter as a pdf

In this issue:

foxglove small what would you do if this happened to you childminder Spring counting colours craft small

Poisonous plants quiz – do you know which plants are poisonous?

What would you do if you looked after a child with recurring head lice?  

Free spring craft printable.  

The next issue (Summer) will be coming out in June 2016

Thank you to everyone who sent in contributions to this newsletter. I welcome contributions from readers on all aspects of childminding best practice.

Happy reading!



Could you make a commitment to weekly outdoor outings?


































wild network logo




Forest Childcare Outings Record Up to 200 outings


Forest Childcare trips

Forest Childcare Association news


Forest Childcare Association news Members of the Forest Childcare Association sign up to the five principles of Forest Childcare. The most important is to commit to taking the children on an outdoor outing to a ‘wild’ place once a week. It’s a wonderful opportunity to do something worthwhile for the children while boosting your childminding business.  


Forest Childcare is great for adults too  

Everyone agrees that visiting the great outdoors once a week is good for children. But don’t forget that it is also great for you too. After all, there are loads of terrible office jobs or shops you could be working in where you would be stuck inside all day, pinned to your desk, dreaming of an opportunity to get fresh air or exercise. As a childminder, you can go outdoors whenever you want to.

Forest Childcare benefits to adults

Doing Forest Childcare with small children gives me the ultimate feeling of freedom. I love walking and being outdoors!  It is good for my body and my soul. As a Forest Childcare provider always remember that you are keeping fit, staying healthy, and most importantly… being paid to be somewhere lovely!

Hedgehog Street – make your garden hedgehog friendly

If you love hedgehogs and want some ideas for how you and the children can help them in your own garden then check out this site. Find out how to make a difference in your garden and become a hedgehog champion.


Art in the woods – contributed by Ann Marie Pemberton 

Forest Childcare is going really well thank you. Most fun was definitely in the snow but we also learnt about animals in Winter as we came across some ducks on a river, so we took them some bread and this led to us making our own bird food and hanging it in trees!

We are lucky to live in a semi-rural area and I came across a small area of woodland the other week with a small natural pond and holes in the ground which could be foxes or rabbits. I thought this would be exciting to explore so I took the children there to see if there was any frog spawn and to play with the trees and sticks. I took along some paper and a glue stick so we did some artwork out in the woods!

Forest Childcare photo Annmarie Forest Childcare artwork


Join the Wild Network – it’s free

If you’re a member of the Forest Childcare Association you can also join The Wild Network and show your support for their campaign to help get more children outdoors and ‘rewild childhood’. I listed The Forest Childcare Association on their site a couple of years ago, but you can also register your ‘childminding business’ as a separate organisation if you would like to. The site has loads of lovely activity ideas and a pleasant newsletter I always read.


Forest Childcare Certificates and a new record sheet to record up to 200 outings

I had an email the other day from childminder Kirsty Marriott to say that one little boy she childminds for has now completed 100 Forest Childcare outings and she would like to record more. I think that’s an awesome achievement. Recording outings is not obligatory for Forest Childcare providers. But many people like to do it. As someone who likes recording things I completely understand how satisfying it feels to keep a record of where you’ve been and let the children reach milestones. It’s like when you give blood; I love that they keep a running total of how many pints you’ve donated and you get little rewards!

With your Forest Childcare Pack you get printable certificates you can give to the children when they have completed 10, 25 and 50 outings. You can print them for yourself as well! And for all Forest Childcare members, if the original record sheet that came with your pack isn’t long enough and you would like to expand to the 200 record sheet then please email me and I’ll send it to you.


Ever thought of opening a Forest Kindergarten? – from Caroline Watts, founder of the Forest Kindergarten Association

 Forest Childcare is a best practice initiative to encourage childcare providers to take children on weekly outdoor outings. It’s a wonderful commitment to children, but have you ever imagined what it would be like if you didn’t have a house to go back to afterwards?  And what if, instead of weekly outdoor outings, you and the children spent nearly all day outdoors, EVERY day? Across the UK Forest Kindergartens are offering preschool children this experience. Some have permanent buildings, but at others the children are expected to daily help to ‘set up camp’. Caroline Watts from Forest Kindergarten in Sevenoaks, Kent and founder of the Forest Kindergarten Association tells us about what it’s like.

“I had dreamt of opening a nursery based in the forest 10 years ago, and found out from my research that they were very popular in Scandinavia, Norway and Germany. We opened our site in one acre of woodland, managed by the National Trust, just outside Sevenoaks. We now run from 9am-2pm, Monday to Friday, and enjoy our picnic lunch in the woods, the fields, or in our bell tent. Up to 15 children are in each group, and we have a ratio of 1 to 5 adults. We are forest school trained, and run our sessions with the forest school ethos.

There is a great deal of wild, imaginative play - digging, running, climbing, building ships, speed boats, dens, and tree houses. We love having fires and cooking on the fire, exploring bugs, mushrooms, and going for 'adventures' into the further woodland. We all think it's the best job in the world! The rain doesn't bother us much, we just jump in puddles, collect rainwater, and ensure we have good waterproofs. Last week we enjoyed investigating the ice, this week we climbed trees barefoot. There is nothing more interesting to me than the unplanned adventures we have every day at Forest Kindergarten. I recommend opening your own, if you are interested too. You can learn more and watch our film on our website:”


Art Project for a Rainy Spring Day  


Download the free template for this seasonal art project. It can be used as a colour matching or counting project or both.

Spring counting colours craft
This rainy Spring craft can be used as a colour matching or counting project or both.  





Kay Woods - Kids To Go on Social Media

How NOT to receive a ‘Thanks for being a great babysitter’ Mug this year l  

A post on Facebook broke my heart the other day from a childminder who had been given a mug for Christmas that said “Thanks for being a great babysitter”. Upset, insulted, underappreciated, and angry don’t begin to describe the range of emotional responses from other childminders…. [read more and sign up for my blog here]

Planning Checklist for Childminders 2016

If you feel you are wasting time with planning, then you probably are… [read more and sign up for my blog here]  

Up To Date Links to Important Documents

Not sure you have the right version of the Parents Poster? Want to read the Prevent Duty or download Development Matters? This page on my blog contains up to date links to statutory and other important reference materials all childminders need to be aware of.  

Please bookmark this useful page for future reference and sign up for my blog.

Like me on Facebook and enter my prize draw!

Please like me on Facebook. When I reach 1000 likes three lucky childminders will be selected to win vouchers for my products. When you like my Facebook page you are helping me with my small business and I really appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time!

Bee Safe Bee Healthy

Get art projects, colouring pages and activities for 15 safety and health topics for childminders with a Be Safe Be Healthy Pack.




















what would you do if this happened to you childminder



































Safety and Health

Poisonous Plants Quiz

Do you know which of the six plants pictured here are poisonous? Britain doesn’t have a lot of really nasty poisonous plants, but as a childminder there are a few that you should be able to recognise.

Poisonous plants quiz for childminding best practice newsletter

CLICK HERE or scroll down to reveal the answer.

The plant photos in this newsletter are all reproduced under The Creative Commons License

Portion Sizes Pictures  

It is easy to get portion sizes completely wrong for small children, encouraging them to eat more food than they need and contributing to childhood obesity and other eating problems. This site is really helpful because it has actual pictures of the food by food groups so you can see what a portion size for a 1-4 year old should look like.


One clever method to help toddlers to put their own coats on

Here’s a neat little video showing ‘The Montessori Coat Flip’ which is a clever method to teach a toddler to put their coat on by themselves.


What would you do if this happened to you? Recurring NITS.

Imagine if you’d been looking after a child with recurring head lice for three months and in that time you’d had to treat yourself and your family for nits three times! The mum tells you she’s been treating it at home, but the child comes from a large family and it’s clear that she’s not doing it right. The child has been off for a week and when she comes back today you comb her hair and see eggs again. You want to exclude her. At this point you are considering giving her family notice. But you also feel really sorry for the poor little girl. She can’t concentrate properly because of the nits. But you also have your own family to think about and they have to come first. What should you do?  

Here is what other childminders say:  

You can’t treat the child yourself for the head lice. It won’t help anyway, if her siblings have them, the child will just catch them again and bring them back to your house. Your role is to convince the parents to treat the lice properly. Many parents don’t realise that treating head lice isn’t usually a one time project. Most treatments require follow up applications. You should tell the parents what to do.  

I would check on arrival and exclude every time you found them....if you start calling mum every day to pickup she will soon start getting rid of them.  

Reoccurring, untreated head lice can be an indicator of neglect or that mum isn't coping very well. I'd start an incident log with the possibility of reporting them for help if not sorted in x amount of time.  

 I worked closely with the girl’s pre-school and had a meeting with the manager and key worker who also shared my concerns. We discussed reporting her for neglect but in the end referred her to social services. Turned out the mum was having a hard time coping and had some other problems. Social services went out to her and gave her some extra help and support.  

 I'd write a letter saying the following: Dear x, I'm formally writing to you to express my concern about xxx head lice. This has been ongoing since November. Head lice quickly spreads and I am concerned that they will spread to other children in my care and my own family will catch them. Also the constant itching is distracting her from playing and learning. I understand they are very difficult to get rid of and understand that you have tried to treat them but so far it has been ineffective. I recommend you try using X and doing Y. Also you need to treat the whole family and wash pillow cases etc. Or maybe seek professional advice from a doctor/pharmacist. I have included a copy of my safeguarding policy. As an Ofsted registered childminder I have a legal duty to report any reoccurring untreated illnesses or conditions. I stress this is not a route I want to go down but if there is not any improvement in 4 weeks’ time my policy dictates that I will have to start referral procedures. If you want any help or advice on how best to treat them please let me know and hopefully we can work together to get rid of them. Any questions let me know.

What would you do?

Free Online Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Training  

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a particularly nasty form of child abuse and is a practice that is illegal in the UK. You should know what to do if you are looking after a child who is at risk of FGM. It is not necessary to write a separate FGM policy (any more than you would write a separate policy for each other form of abuse); it should be covered by your general safeguarding policy. But because it is an issue that many people in the UK are not familiar with, it is a good idea to do this short, free online training course that will tell you what children are most likely to be at risk and what you should do.


95% of people who have completed the course have said they would now do something differently in their role.

 Throughout this free online safeguarding course, we follow Hope as she encounters the key issues relating to FGM and we see how they affect her throughout her life. The training will help a wide range of professionals to identify and assist girls who are at risk of FGM. You can seek advice from the NSPCC FGM Helpline on 0800 028 3550.

Poisonous Plants Quiz - Answer

The quiz is a trick. In fact, ALL of the plants pictured here can harm you, causing symptoms that range from nausea and vomiting to nasty skin blisters that last for months. Some of these plants can actually kill you. Read my full blog article with more detailed information so you understand the real dangers to yourself and the children here.


foxglove Laburnum
Foxglove leaves are poisonous if you eat them.  Laburnum seeds are poisonous if you eat them.
daffodils mistletoe
Daffodil bulbs are poisonous if you eat them.  Any part of the mistletoe plant (leaves and berries) are poisonous if you eat them.
yew tree giant-hogweed cropped
Yew tree leaves can cause nasty blisters if your rub up against them. The leaves will also poison you if you eat them. Giant hogsweed sap can cause severe painful burns to the skin if you brush up against it.
























childminding myth or fact



Progress check at age 2 help

My Progress Check age 2 pack costs just £10 and is full compatible with the new integrated review


























Inspirational best practice - ideas, stories and links

What is ‘Invitation to play’ and how do you do it?

Invitation to play is a bit of a buzz word at the moment, but what does it actually mean? Is it more than just a fancy new way to say that you “set the toys up” ready for the children before they get there? 

‘Invitation to play’ means different things to different childminders but in general the activities tend to be set up by you and purposely planned in some way. However, once you have set up the activity for the children, it is then time to stand back. Rebecca Crichton says, ‘Invitation to play shouldn't be adult led, more adult-suggested. The children then lead it in whatever direction they want.’

When I asked a group of childminders what they thought of by ‘invitation to play’ they sent me the following inspiring pictures.

Julie Wilkinson invitation to play photo jane fear invitation to play photo
Contributed by Julie Wilkinson Contributed by Jane Fear
Beth green invitation to play photo5 Beth green invitation to play photo
Contributed by Beth Green  

 I do think there’s something nice about the idea that you are setting the toys up to ‘invite’ the children to come and play with what you’ve set up. Setting up these activities, pouring some creativity into your day, keeps things interesting for you as well. It’s fun to stand back with your camera, watching what they do with an idea that you have created for them.

Fact or Myth? I don’t have to do a Progress Check anymore because the health visitors are now doing them.

This is a myth. You still have to complete a written Progress Check at Age 2 on the children in your care. It is an EYFS statutory requirement that has not been changed. As a childminder you must provide a short, written summary to parents highlighting achievements, areas in which extra support might be needed, and describing how you, as the child’s Early Years Provider, will address any issues.

In September 2015, the Integrated Review was introduced combining your Progress Check at Age 2 with the Healthy Child Programme Review at age two to two-and-a-half which is carried out by health visitors. In the past it was considered ‘good practice’ to try and prepare your Progress Check report prior to the Healthy Child Review so that parents could raise any concerns you may have brought up in your report with the child’s health visitor. With the introduction of the Integrated Review, this information-sharing is now a requirement.

Integrating your report with the health visitor’s report makes great sense, and you should see it as your opportunity to have your concerns about the two year olds you care for, brought to the attention of both parents and health professionals. If you have already been doing Progress Checks on the children then this new format simply asks you to provide a little more information and to make a little more effort to formally share information than you may have done previously. The purpose of all this information-sharing with the new Integrated Review is to bring everybody’s knowledge about the child together. Parents bring an in-depth knowledge of their child, you bring knowledge of early learning development and day-to-day observations of the child in your setting, while health visitors bring knowledge of the family context and child health development. All of these things brought together enable everyone to obtain a clear and complete picture of the child.

Some of you may find that your health visiting team takes the lead on the Integrated Review and contacts you. In some parts of the country your council may provide you with detailed information on how they want information-sharing to be done.  Many of you, unfortunately, will get no help or direction at all and therefore the process for information-sharing will be left up to you.

If you are looking for some guidance on completing the Progress Check, especially if you are getting little or no help from your council, then you may want to look at my Progress Check Age 2 pack which will guide you through the basic information-sharing process.


 Roll-able handmade Play Mats

 These Waldorf/Montessori inspired play mats are handmade by childminder Marianna Albert and I think they’re lovely. You can buy them through Etsy.

marianna albert 1 marianna albert 2


If you are a childminder and would like me to promote your own products for childminders through this newsletter please ask. I don’t charge people for any of the links I include in this newsletter.


Growing plants indoors and childminding – contributed by Dawn Evans

March is the time for planting seeds inside. Elijah my 3½ year old just planted tomato and peas. My minded boy will plant his too in the next few weeks. We have some tomato seeds growing I keep behind the stair gate, away from the baby and the white greenhouse is from IKEA. The water sprayer is great for fine motor skills too!

indoor gardening for childminders 1 indoor gardening for childminders 2


1001 ways to fail your Ofsted inspection

Please send your own funny photos of ways to fail your Ofsted inspection to If you include photos of children who aren’t yours please make sure you have asked permission from the parents for me to put them into the newsletter. If I use your photo you’ll get a £25 voucher to spend on my products.  

how to fail your ofsted inspection how to fail your ofsed inspection photo 2
Number 302: When calculating ‘usable floor space’ at your setting, it is not acceptable to count the inside of your fridge. From Wendy’s Childcare, High Wycombe Number 811: This is not considered to be an acceptable ‘late collection procedure’. Even if the parents are really, really late you must not leave their child to busk on the street outside of your house. From Eve from London
claire toms how to fail your ofsted inspection Number 64: Ofsted likes to see well-labelled toy shelves. Especially the ones you use to store the children during the day. From Clare Toms

Helping you to stay on top of the paperwork

Ultimate childminding checklist

The Ultimate Childminding Checklist is 3 checklists in 1 including a count down to your Ofsted Inspection.

EYFS Paperwork, Policy and Legislation News


Number of childminders has dropped for the third year running  

This interesting article from Early Years Childcarer makes links between the falling numbers of childminders with the introduction of the living wage. In business terms this is GOOD NEWS for the childminders who remain or those considering becoming childminders. The services we provide should be at higher demand than ever before.


Car Seat Regulations    

When the car seat regulations changed slightly in Sept 2015 there was quite a lot of confusion about them. If you at all in doubt that you are doing things correctly at your childminding setting, then read the government’s page on car seat law.

Childminders and the new 30 hours entitlement

Sue Robb, Head of Early Years at 4Children, recently hosted a live TV question and answer session for childminders and their role in delivering the 30 hours entitlement with early years colleagues at the DfE. A recording of this session is now on YouTube and can be found here.  

Changes to Working Tax Credits' eligibility will affect many childminders

Childminders must now prove their business is being run to make a profit or could be forced to repay thousands of pounds in backdated tax credits. The move is part of a blanket change to WTC eligibility for the self-employed, announced in the 2015 Budget. This affects many childminders. This article in Nursery World explains the situation.






Free Product Updates

There are no updates to products at this time.


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