Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 11: Summer 2016

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Welcome to the Summer 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:

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Childminding with Rabbits

Does your librarian know that you’re a childminder?

Why set up roll play areas for children like this?

The next issue (Autumn) will be coming out in September 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?
















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Fact or Myth




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Forest Childcare Association news


Could you commit to taking children on weekly outdoor outings? That’s what members of the Forest Childcare Association do with the children. It’s a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and make the most of your childminding days. And it’s a great way to promote your childminding business to parents who will love the idea.   

“Bunny Safe Zone” in our garden – contributed by Lucinda Hall

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“Our free-range bunnies enjoying the outdoor resources."

I am certainly enjoying getting out with the children. We are lucky enough to have a pretty large outdoor area of our own (5 acres all together) and over the last few months we have been concentrating on developing our outdoor provision into distinct areas for the children to enjoy, such as: fish pond, green house, woodland with den building area and farmyard area for goats. Our main garden has been made into a "bunny safe zone" and we now have two rabbits who are free range during the day. We have big plans for adding more to the outdoor provision over the year.

Snail Art – contributed by Chris Harle

Joining the Forest Childcare Association has given our outdoor adventures and walks lots more focus and interest with new activities that have further enhanced the day. During one of our outings the children discovered snails. Looking closely at the shells we talked about spirals and after drawing spirals we looked at this famous Matisse snail on the internet and then made our own. This is something I remembered doing a long time ago with my grandchildren. After finding the snail on the website the children then stuck gummed paper on the spirals they had drawn.

Colour matching in the RHS Garden, Hyde Hall – contributed by Suzanne Aldridge from
Little Newts Childcare, Ashington

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We had lots of fun visiting a beautiful RHS Garden, Hyde Hall in Essex. I made a nature hunt based on colours so my little ones could begin to link items of the same colour together. Each child had a clip board with colours they were learning and each was challenged to find items in the beautiful garden to match their colours. For the older ones the exercise was about being able to make marks on their clip boards as they were encouraged to make a tally mark when they saw an item matching one of their colours. They were all engaged and loved the visit. My little one year old made great links with colours and repeated the colour names as we shared them with him so it was such a worthwhile outing.

Celebrate International Mud Day on 29th June

Ideas and printables from Muddy Faces to encourage you to get the children outdoors in ALL weather. 

Fact or Myth? You have to have a Level 3 Forest School qualification in order to take the children to the woods 

Forest School training courses are popping up all over the country and lots of childminders are signing up for them. They are essential if you want to run a Forest Kindergarten (outdoor nursery) and a great idea if you want to teach groups of nursery children how to do whittling and build a forest fire. However, it is a myth that you must have Forest School training in order to take the childminded children on an outing to the woods.

If you are a registered childminder, have public liability insurance and business car insurance, then you have essentially everything you need to take the children on outings. You don’t even technically need a parental permission form these days (although many childminders do).

Many childcare providers avoid outings to the woods because of misplaced fears about health and safety. The importance of safeguarding children has been so totally drummed into us, that we feel we should achieve a ‘zero-risk’ environment in order to be within the ‘rules’. Or we fear that if we took the children to the woods we would need to have parental permission forms for every little thing: ‘I give my child permission to step on twigs, to pick up leaves, to splash in puddles and risk slipping over on mud etc.’ This attitude can severely limit what we feel is ok to do with the children we look after, and it is wrong. Outdoor play and outings contribute to learning and health, and it’s actually important to allow children to learn to take some risks for themselves.

As childminders we are in an ideal position to provide weekly outdoor outings, whether these are simple trips to the park, duck pond, and urban green spaces, or planned trips to our local ‘wild’ areas like woods and nature reserves. We can offer the children we look after the positive outdoor experiences that they may otherwise miss out on. When you buy a Forest Childcare Pack you will get advice on the practical considerations (safety, risk assessment, permission forms etc.) of taking groups of childminded children on outdoor outings, plus business tools you can use to promote your childminding business and craft and activity ideas.

Report calls for action on EYFS entitlement to outdoor play

 Many early years providers do not provide enough outdoor space for children to play. Outdoor play is an EYFS requirement with lots of benefits to children. Read the full report here.

How to use the Forest Childcare logo to promote your childminding business – from Sarah Bleasdale

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What a great idea, Sarah Bleasdale! Thanks for sending in this picture showing the Forest Childcare logo on a mug. Now everybody who sees you drinking from it will ask you what Forest Childcare is, and you have an easy opening into some wonderful advertising for your childcare business. When you join the Forest Childcare Association you can use the Forest Childcare logo on your own advertising materials, including website, business stationery and mugs.


Summer Art Project Ideas  


Some ideas of things you might want to try in your garden. I love Amanda Calloway’s ‘before’ and ‘after’ shot of rock painting. Amanda writes, “After many years of study I am definitely an advocate of process over product so I just sit back and let them explore. This was set up for two children of 22 months.”

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Rock painting (with glitter) contributed by Amanda Calloway
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Painting in the garden from Wendy at Granny Daycare How to display the children’s artwork outside (laminated butterflies) contributed by Katriona Ismail
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Playdough and flowers, contributed by Lisa Barks  





Kay Woods - Kids To Go on Social Media

Don’t quit childminding until you’ve asked yourself these 13 questions  

All childminders have those days when you wake up and think: I can’t do this anymore. But what about when that feeling of gloom goes on for weeks? Or months? When you reach the point where you just feel utterly miserable and can barely make yourself open the front door on a morning. If this is you, please don’t quit before you’ve asked yourself the following 13 questions [read more]

How much ‘Stuff’ does Ofsted want to see on childminders’ walls? 

What Ofsted call your ‘childcare setting’ is probably what you call your family home. And deciding how much ‘work stuff’ to put up on the walls of your home can be tricky.…. [read more]

How NOT to be a victim of a bad Ofsted Inspection

10 ways to take control of your inspection [read more] .

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.


Safety and Health

Looking after children during heatwaves

Prepare yourself, write your risk assessments and promote information sharing with parents by reading this useful guide from the Health Protection Agency

CAPT: Child safety week 2016 - Download the Action Pack now! 

Child Safety Week is run by Child Accident Prevention Trust to raise awareness of the risks of child accidents and how they can be prevented. This year, it will be running from 6-12 June 2016 with the theme of Turn off technology for safety. Accidents happen when parents are distracted. Download the Action Pack and sign up to receive access to a range of printable activities to use with families and children.

Free Very Hungry Caterpillar resource activity book from Pacey 

Lots of great activities and colouring pages from the original books including great ideas for healthy eating.


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Get 40 printable posters including Ofsted inspection essentials for your childminding setting


Outstanding Childminding Spaces


 How much ‘stuff’ do most childminders put on their walls?  

What Ofsted call your ‘childcare setting’ is probably what you call your family home. And deciding how much ‘work stuff’ to put up on the walls of your home can be tricky. Some childminders seem happy to turn their houses into mini nurseries. Others feel very strongly that they don’t want to feel they are still at work when they sit down to watch TV on an evening.  

Which type of childminder are you?  

Type A: This is my family home. At the end of the day, every day, I tidy all the plastic away. I hate educational posters on my wall – I am not a nursery – and I don’t want my living room walls covered in art work drawn by other people’s kids!  

Type B: I like to strike a balance. I don’t mind having some posters up in the playroom, but never in the living room and I certainly don’t want hand washing signs in my bathroom. This is my family home first.  

Type C: I frequently run out of wall space for all of the kids art projects that I want to put up. I get ideas for displays by peering into school classrooms! My house looks like a little nursery and I don’t mind a bit.    

CLICK HERE or scroll down to find out how other childminders responded to this question.

ABC Chart designed by 26 childminders from across the UK

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Two years ago 26 childminders from across the UK helped me to design a completely unique ABC chart with each letter designed by a different childminder. The chart, which is printable in three different sizes, now forms part of my Posters Pack. People often send me photos when they use my resources (which I love by the way) and here are two childminders who have put the unique ABC chart up in their setting. Thanks, Ali and Mel for sending these photos in.

Why ‘waste time’ setting up complicated role play areas for children?

Why on earth, many of you may ask yourselves, would childminders bother to take all this time to set up role play for the children like the childminders in these photos have done? This is like asking mountaineers why they climb mountains! Because it’s fun to set up activities for the children, even though they are going to wreck them!  Because the children love it. Because you get paid to play with toys! Because you can!

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Contributed by Clairey Daly
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Contributed by Kelly Banks Murray. Love the Weetabix hay bales. Contributed by Tracie Monahan

How much ‘stuff’ do most childminders put on their walls?

166 childminders responded to my blog post to tell me what type of childminders they were. And this is what they said:  

29% of childminders are TYPE A: You like to keep posters to an absolute minimum.  

49% of childminders are TYPE B: You try to strike a balance – some posters are ok, but you don’t go mad.   

22% of childminders are TYPE C: You LOVE making displays and are happy to have posters and kids’ stuff everywhere.  

Whatever type of childminder you are, before your inspection, really think about your childminding space both from a child’s point of view and from the inspector’s point of view. Is it tidy? Is it clean and safe? Will the children learn things here? Can the children reach the toys? Are the toy boxes labelled so they can find them?  Is the children’s art work on display?  Does the setting feel welcoming? Are there plenty of photographs up celebrating achievements and the sorts of activities you do?  If not, then you may want to invest a few new posters and resources that will give that ‘outstanding’ impression to the Ofsted inspector.  

Do you want some printable posters for your childminding setting?
My Posters Pack has is a collection of printable posters for your childminding setting including educational posters (ABC charts, days of the week), bulletin board signs and notices, things Ofsted likes to see (welcome posters in many languages, diversity poster, house rules, ‘who is here today’, areas of learning and development poster, characteristics of effective learning poster) plus toy box labels and display ideas for all types of childminders. I have posters for large spaces and tiny spaces and it’s all available as part of my Posters Pack. You can customise the posters for your own setting before you print them.






















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Inspirational best practice - ideas, stories and links

Do you take advantage of special childminder library privileges?

Many counties offer childminders all sorts of special privileges at the library. These differ across the country, but the sorts of things libraries offer childminders over regular members of the public are:  

  • Checking out LOTS more books than regular members and keeping them longer
  • Special cards for the children, so in case they damage or lose the books you won’t get charged
  • Free computer access
  • Free printouts and photocopies
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If you are new to childminding you should also ask your library for special childminding events like music clubs and painting activities aimed just at childminders. These are a great way to meet other childminders in your area.

 As well as regular children’s books remember that if you look after children with special needs libraries will  help you to access books for blind children for example. And if you look after children who speak English as a second language, your library will help you to get access to books in dual languages. Many libraries also have ‘toys’ you can borrow. Ask in case they publicise this service poorly.

Next time you go to your library tell one of the librarians that you are a childminder. You never know what special privileges you might be entitled to if you don’t ask!

Small Science Club

Fun, science experiments for small people. Lots of great ideas on their site.

Den Day fundraiser for Save the Children 

Raise money for Save the Children by holding a Den Day with other childminders in your area. You can request a free information pack about how your group can raise money for the children’s charity on 17th or 18th June. 

What would you do if this happened to you? Grumpy husband who HATES the kids. 

Imagine your partner seems to hate virtually every child you look after. Every little thing annoys him or aggravates him and sometimes he can even be rude to them. He has no patience with them, but you can understand why. He comes home from a long day at work to a house full of kids including his own two year old and they bombard and smother him and even follow him into his bedroom. You haven’t been childminding all that long and you’re worried things can’t go on like this because it is causing tension between you and your husband. What should you do?

Here is what other childminders say:

Remind him why you do this. We have the same argument/discussion every few months but he likes that I'm home with our son (and soon to be daughter too).

Mine goes out before I start and comes home when the last child has gone. You may want to cut your hours back? That’s why a lot of childminders only do before and after school. Other people send their husbands out on lots and lots of errands. Could he not do something after work like visit a friend, go for a beer, do a hobby, go to the gym or go food shopping?

Childminding with a partner is a two way compromise. Although he has had a hard day at work and comes home to them they are also your work and if he is rude or annoyed with them there then I would tell him stay in his bedroom or come home later. We made an agreement that after 4.30pm when he gets home, I only use the conservatory and hubby gets the living room.

My husband comes home to help me with the tea so I can be with the children doing things. It's sad that your husband feels this way.

Is there anywhere you could designate some “Family Only” space in your house? The childminded children really shouldn’t follow him into his bedroom. Everyone in my family has somewhere they can escape to away from the kids. If they won’t stay out then I would put a stair gate across the door. My hubby also has an Xbox so can shut himself away. Put a stair gate on the bedroom door. The kids also need to know boundaries.

Kerri Bishop writes: “I can honestly say the first year to 18 months was a complete nightmare for me and my hubby. He hated it, the noise, the mess, the kids themselves, the long days, THE MESS, me snowed under with paperwork (I did waaaay too much to start with). It nearly came to an ultimatum at one point; the childminding or him. We talked through the alternatives and decided to both make some compromises, and now 6 years later things are much easier. He still has his moments but on the whole he's ok with taking himself off upstairs until everyone has gone home, or if he doesn't he's much more tolerant with kids (and the mess!). Even helps me clear up at the end of the day sometimes! What I'm trying to say is, you really have to talk to each other about your concerns and how each other is feeling about things. Clear the air and see if you can make it work otherwise you'll end up resenting each other and no job is worth that.”

Poem for Childminders – contributed by John Wright from
Learn as you Play Childminding

learn as you play


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.  

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Number 601: While it is important to encourage independence in matters of self-care, babies should not be expected to change their own nappies. From Rachel Murphin  Number 84: If you decide to do a water play structured activity while the inspector is watching, it is considered good practice to buy a dedicated water table. From Suzanne, Babychicks Childminding

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.

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EYFS Paperwork, Policy and Legislation News


New video on implementing the integrated review   

Video shows nursery workers but never-the-less is an interesting insight into some of the issues faced when different groups of people try to work together.

Childcare Support Government Page

The government has launched a new web page which brings together all the current childcare provision in one place

Backless Booster Seats – change in the law from December 2016

From December 2016 the law is changing regarding the use of backless booster seats for young children. The law will apply to new car seats purchased after this time.

Childcare for Teachers

If you offer term time only childcare, you might want to register with this site.

YouTube animation mocks Cameron's wish for champagne nurseries based on lemonade prices

This little animation neatly summarises the real issues involved in offering 30 hours ‘free’ childcare.

Safer Food Better Business for Childminders – new version

A new version of Safer Food Better Business for Childminders has been released. You can download a free PDF version here.





Free Product Updates

There are no updates to products at this time.


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