Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 13: Winter 2016

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Welcome to the Winter 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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First aid pop quiz – broken or just pinched fingers?

FREE Diversity Planning Calendar for 2017

How to make a Little Library at your house  

The next issue (Spring) will be coming out in March 2017

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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Forest Childcare Association news


Members of the Forest Childcare Association commit to taking the children on an outdoor outing to a ‘wild’ place once a week – even in the Winter!  I love seeing children all wrapped up running around outside on cold and frosty Winter days. So much better for everybody than being cooped up inside all day.

Standing still and listening in the woods – contributed by Peter Bradshaw  

“Sometimes we just stand still and listen to the birds tweetering away.” 

Despite the dreary weather we have managed to have regular trips to our local woods. With children ranging from 18months to 8 years we enjoy putting our wellies and waterproofs on and going for an adventure. We build dens, play hide and seek, play tig, go on a bear hunt, look for insects and bugs, and best of all splashing in muddy puddles and getting muddy. Sometimes we just stand still and listen to the birds tweetering away.

Homemade Winter bird feeders 

Some lovely ideas on this site to make with the children – Xmas present ideas for parents.  

NEW: Forest Childcare Facebook Page  

The Forest Childcare Association now has its own Facebook Page. Please like my page and enjoy the links, stories, craft and activity ideas, poetry, photos and inspirational ideas I share. Please like the page to help support the Forest Childcare Association.

Using information boards to promote literacy outdoors at the nature reserve – contributed by Shirley Jones

These photos are taken at one of our favourite places to visit, Brereton Heath Local Nature Reserve in Brereton, Cheshire.

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The children explored the woodland area, played in the den building area and play hide and seek in the natural willow tunnels. We looked out for Stick Man too and took lots of sticks home to try and make our own Stick Man! We also looked at the information boards which tell us lots of information about types of birds which might be visiting the Mere (we also looked through the bird hide to see the birds and ducks on the Mere). We ended the day with a good old splash in the mud, looking at the marks our feet made and generally having fun.  

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Rotating outings so all children can participate – contributed by Karen Corrie

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We've had none stop rain but parents have been brilliant, all enthusiastic and supplying waterproofs etc."

I decided to rotate my Forest Childcare outings in the week so all children are included. Wow! Quiet children were running wildly around shouting and excited, they splashed in puddles and splashed in mud, we listened to birds and felt moss, bark etc. We've had none stop rain but parents have been brilliant, all enthusiastic and supplying waterproofs etc. The children love it, so again would recommend without hesitation. I feel I can offer something very different to pre-school and it will be a selling point in the future when I have spaces, in combination with me offering more one to one attention and having a small group of children.

Weekly outdoor outings in Winter can be tough, but also deeply rewarding – contributed by Vikki Pilbeam

We have been practicing Forest Childcare since late September and it was easy to keep the momentum going right up until Christmas. January was a little challenging with illness and a baby settling in but we managed some outings and when we just couldn’t there was the garden. We are now back in the swing and will be off to look for Stick Man and the Family Tree this week.

It’s great to see how the children are now taking much more notice of what’s around them, noticing trees, birds even some early daffs on the school run. It’s also great to see how it’s aided their development in different ways. Physically they have all grown in confidence and when the occasional fall happens usually just get a quick rub and are off again. They have enjoyed using magnifying glasses, binoculars and I have one 2 year old who likes to tick things off our scavenger hunt sheets, great mark making.

We are definitely looking forward to warmer weather (and not having to put on quite so many clothes before we leave the house!), but I feel very proud that the children in my care enjoy being out in all weathers and never moan about the cold.

All in all we are having great fun and I’m so glad I under took the commitment.


Art Projects for the Winter Months  


Here are some activities you can try in Winter. Most have been sent in by other childminders – please send me photos of your activities and ideas to inspire others.  

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I made this ice sculpture by leaving the frying pan full of water out overnight when it was below freezing. Just lay the items from your garden or winter walk on top of the water and it will freeze in place. You need to use a fairly sturdy piece of rope for one this size. I also made mini ones with tiny Tupperware pots and the kids hung them all over the trees. 
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I love Wendy’s snowmen lanterns. They are made from Options plastic bottles and have battery operated tea lights inside. Thank you Wendy Martin. Lots of different textures, filling and emptying and make believe in this wonderful Winter scene play tray set up by Kerry Dickson-Smith.

For or Valentines Day – 14th February

I love this Valentines Day card idea from Sara Reece. She writes “I drew round their hands, before cutting out the hands, I gave them red paint to get messy with, then created this card.”  

The poem reads:  

With your two hands you’ve cradled me
And loved me from the start
So with some paint and my two hands
I’ve made for you a heart.














Articles, Blogs and Information Pages

Information pages on    

I am in the process of putting together a series of searchable information pages for childminders on my Childminding Best Practice website where I also publish my blog articles. On this site you can search for information, articles, links, and support by topic including: 

Remember to “follow”my blog to receive articles by email.

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys (for childminders) 

Feeling that you are being paid peanuts is awful. Feeling undervalued in any job is demoralising, but when you are childminding it can feel doubly awful because you are the one who sets your own prices. [read more]

10 Ways for Childminders to put the Characteristics of Effective Learning (COEL) into Practice

Understanding the COEL is vital for every childminder. Not only will you be expected to know this information during your Ofsted inspection, it is also a huge benefit to the children you look after if you can help them to acquire the skills in the Early Years that they will need to help them to succeed in school and become learners for life… [read more]

The Great Christmas Card Debate: how much help should you give childminded children on their Christmas cards?

 I’m NOT going to do handprints again for my childminding Christmas present, I said firmly to myself as I stared at the blank calendar template. Because everybody knows that handprints aren’t really the children’s work. Ofsted would scoff and tut… [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.



















































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Safety and Health

First Aid Pop Quiz

The child has had her fingers slammed in a door. You can’t tell if they are broken or just pinched. What’s the first thing you should do? 

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CLICK HERE or scroll down to reveal the answer

Educating parents about keeping their children safe online 

Keeping children safe online is an important part of safeguarding. And while it isn’t a statutory requirement, it is considered good practice for Early Years providers including childminders to help keep parents informed of ways they can keep their children safe online. One way you could do this in practice is to hand out copies of this leaflet, and recommend to parents that they visit Childnet to get more information.

Appropriate names for ‘girl parts’?   

A post in the Facebook group Childminding Chat and Activity Ideas made me laugh, cringe, wince and keep reading. Somebody asked what word childminded children use for “vagina”. Boys are easy, with some variant on ‘willy’ or ‘winky’ being the norm for those not wanting to use clinical terms. But girls’ parts are more complicated. Some of the words children and their parents use seem horribly inappropriate, and yet we may very well come across them so we ought to be able to at least recognise them.  

From a safeguarding perspective it is useful for children to be able to refer accurately to their genitals. It is also helpful for visits to the doctors if children know what words to use to describe which part of their ‘bottom’ is itchy for example with words that medical professionals can understand. In my opinion, as a childcare professional, you should be using and encouraging children to use proper names… but lots of people feel differently and this is a personal choice.  

Here, for your enlightenment, entertainment, and most importantly so you know what is being referred to when a parent/ child mentions it, is a list of some of the words that you may come across for “girl parts”. Over 300 people responded to the post from all over the UK and here is the list they came up with:  

Poppy, foofy, mini, vagina, tilly, butterfly, girly bits, vulva, lady bits, wilhemina, flower, front bottom, fluffy, fanny, privates, toilet parts, tooshie, minky, front bum, twinkle, noofy, peach, noonie, flute   

Why Do Kids Bully and What Can We Do About It?

I think this article by Linda Stade makes a lot of good points, and many relate to EYFS age children, not just to school age children. .

The NSPCC has set up a new helpline to provide advice on the problem of child radicalisation 


Those who are worried about children being radicalised by the influence of extremist views can now call the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) for advice. The charity has launched a new, free, 24-hour helpline service, which people can contact if they are concerned a child is at risk of radicalisation. The helpline number is 0808 800 5000 and callers can remain anonymous.  

Sign up for the free safeguarding newsletter offered by They also offer online safeguarding courses, some of which are free.

First Aid Pop Quiz - Answer

The child has had her fingers slammed in a door. You can’t tell if they are broken or just pinched.

The first thing you should do is to sit the child down, support her injured hand on a pillow, and put an ice pack wrapped in a cloth on it. 

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If you still think the child may have broken any of her fingers, then she will need to go to hospital for an X-ray. If you (or the parents) will be driving the child yourself you can help the child by keeping her sore fingers as still as possible. You may want to try gently securing the sore finger to the finger next to it, or to something like a pen or lollipop stick.

 Read the St. John’s Ambulance website for more information on broken bones and the NHS site for information specifically on broken fingers. 

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Diversity best practice ideas


Teaching children foreign languages  

Foreign languages are a great way for children to develop an appreciation of diversity and can be fun for everyone including you. Here are some articles, tips and toy recommendations.

Downloadable 2017 Diversity Planning Calendar

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Use this free downloadable calendar to plan to celebrate diversity with the children in 2017. The calendar includes the dates of some multicultural holidays, religious festivals for Britain’s three biggest religions (Christianity, Islam and Hinduism) and other big events with a diversity focus.  

There are lots more events than these to choose from if you look for them on the web and it’s best where you can to adapt activities to the children you look after. Suppose you look after a Jewish or Sikh child? Talk to their parents for ideas then search on Google for ways to celebrate festivals that are important to them. Write them on this calendar so you remember to celebrate them.

School Readiness Activities from Homestart

Big Hopes Big Future pages and downloads will give you some tips, activities you can try, and games you can play with your children to help them to get ready for school. Lots of good ideas here.

Idea to do instead of an advent calendar with childminded children – contributed by Louise Scott    

It's the first year (at 33) I don't have a advent calendar! Instead....every day, I will place something in this box .... food, toiletries etc., then on Christmas Eve I will take it to a shelter or find a homeless person to give it to! Let's share this idea and make someone else's Christmas special.

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Louise is not a childminder. But she said I could publish her idea in this newsletter which ‘went viral’ on Facebook in 2015. I think this is a really worthwhile project to do with childminded children of any age.

Invitation to play for Chinse New Year – 28th January

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I love this invitation to play idea contributed by Jass and Mani from Jassfourfun Childcare. A nice way activity to celebrate Chinese New Year with the children.













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My new Characteristics of Effective Learning Pack is tools, activities to put the CEOL into practice



































Inspirational best practice - ideas, stories and links

Four mistakes to avoid when planning for 2017

As the old year ends and the new begins, it is a good time to stop for a moment and take stock of the learning journey- assessment- planning system you are using in your setting and check that they are suitable for your needs. Check that you aren’t making any of the following mistakes:  

Mistake 1. Creating overcomplicated planning systems
Remember that whatever system you are using for your planning needs to be usable by you every single week. The more complicated you make it, then less likely you will be to use your own system. If the system you are using is currently too complicated for you to maintain, then it may be time to try a new system.  

Mistake 2. Creating planning documents that can’t be easily changed
Your planning system has to flexible; it cannot be a series of documents set in stone. It has to be easy to make changes to and it has to be adaptable. If your system does not allow for change, then you have not got an effective planning system in place at your setting.  

Mistake 3. Planning for your setting but not for each individual child
If the system you use works for your setting, but does not take into account the needs of different children in your setting, then your system needs a rethink. A planning system must work for your whole setting AND take into account the needs and interests of each individual child.  

Mistake 4. Not linking your observations to your planning
All of the ‘next steps’ you record in your learning journeys MUST link into whatever planning system you are using. Writing observations and next steps into your learning journeys is pointless if you don’t have a method to put those ideas into your planning.  

If the planning system you are currently using is too complicated, or makes any of the mistakes described here, you may want to simplify your planning in 2017 by looking at my Learning Journey Plus workbook which takes you step by step through creating a workable, flexible and ongoing planning system for your setting.

Ofsted’s Lee Owston - video on teaching and play in the early years

Lee Owston, Ofsted's National Lead for Early Years, talks about teaching and play in the early years.

Dear childminding, I reflected why I love you – a poem contributed by Katriona Ismail  

 You took away childcare costs X 4.

You bring smiles knocking at my door.

I love that you let me avoid transport chaos, never missing school productions, cake sales, parent teacher meetings.

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You let me educate my own children in so, so many ways: culture, diversity, faith, beliefs, opinions, not to mention opportunities to be scientists, explorers, inventors when they are young

and long after their peers have moved on from messy play, I still see you join in potion lotion, mud kitchen, messy play activities.

I always have equipment on hand for school projects, especially the sparkly ones.

We never run out of glue, paint, tape.

You keep my families’ meals balanced and healthy.

You afford language rich opportunities, a hallway with French, Greek and German speaking families. Food swaps, allergy knowledge, first aid training.

You let me be my own boss and make more profit than loss.

You make us tidy, considerate and caring and we are so good at sharing.

You help us see differences, family challenges, highs and lows.

You make me feel proud to be part of someone’s amazing world, learning journeys, emotional wellbeing and destiny.

You give me joy of seasons and many, many reasons to celebrate, what you give to my family and me.

Dear childminding some days you are hard - rain, scrapes, parents late,

But by far you have enhanced and entranced our world and I thank you.

IIt's a pleasure and the memories I will always treasure.

Why childminders must allow children to fail  

Failure doesn’t sound like it should be a childminding best practice topic, but actually it is vitally important that young children be allowed to fail. We all know parents who never allow their children to fail. At the first sign of difficulty as the child tries to do up his shoes, they jump in there and tie them for him. If the child gets bored half way through the art project they are making, they finish the task for them. At the first sign of difficulty they lift their child up onto the climbing frame so that she can feel she made it. Many parents are afraid to let their child ‘fail’ or ‘fall’ and in doing so, continually give their child the message that they can’t really be expected to do things by themselves and that any failure is a terrible thing instead of a normal and positive part of growing up.

Unfortunately, this sort of parenting doesn’t ultimately help children because it doesn’t help them to develop the characteristics of effective learning. Children have to learn to do things by themselves. They have to learn that in order to succeed at tasks they have to keep trying at them. They have to learn that if something doesn’t work first time, to try a different approach. They have to learn to concentrate on tasks they set for themselves, and that the harder they work at a task the more likely they are to succeed at it. Parents who do everything for their children ultimately do not help their child to learn to succeed in school.

As their childminder you can help children enormously to prepare them for school by encouraging children in the Early Years to persist at tasks they find difficult and to keep trying at challenging tasks. If you can help to teach the children resilience in the face of failure then you will be equipping them well for school, even if their parents don’t. It is part of your job to help children to develop the characteristics that will make them into effective learners once they start school.

For tools, activities, CPD and ideas to put the COEL into practice in your childminding setting check out my new Characteristics of Effective Learning Pack.

Technology in the early years: A help or a hindrance?

This article from the Day Nurseries Association explores the use of technology in the early years which can be a contentious issue among childcare professionals and parents. Child-friendly apps, toys and gadgets are becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, while there is growing concern about the implications of introducing children to technology during their early years, and the risks associated with frequent use.

How to run your own ‘Little Library’ – contributed by Sarah Bleasdale

I love Sarah’s idea to open a free ‘Little Library’ in front of her house and a great idea for new year’s resolutions to do something positive in your community. Sarah writes: “anyone can take a book and you do not have to bring one in return. You don’t have to return it; you may pass it on to someone else or keep it. My minded child is 3 1/2 and she helps re stock the books. She also takes books home herself. Other minders also bring their minded kids to choose a book. More often than not someone else will be passing by and we get to have a chat about our library. I think this is great British values, community spirit kindness and obviously the links to literature idea.”

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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 443: Remember that according to the EYFS Statutory Framework you must have a teaching license from Hogwarts if you intend to encourage small children to speak Parseltongue so they can talk to snakes. Number 865: This is not considered to be suitable sleeping arrangements.

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


Socket covers should no longer be used  

Childminders have been told to use socket covers for years to stop children poking things into electric sockets. However, it has now been proven that using socket covers can be more dangerous than not using them. This is because the inserts have been shown to overcome the safety features designed into socket outlets.

 The latest guidance from official sources is that 13A electrical socket inserts should not be used in health or social care premises, nor supplied for use in a home or residence. Any socket inserts currently in use should be withdrawn from use and responsibly disposed of.

More information from the Department for Education is here.

If you are being inspected any time soon, it is a good idea to remove your socket covers to show your inspector that you are aware of the new policy.

If you are using my Contract, Policies and Forms Pack, Ultimate Childminding Checklist, or SEF Model Answers, then you may want to ignore the references I have made to socket covers throughout these documents and update your own versions of these documents as outlined in the Product Updates section below.

Coming soon: New version of the EYFS Statutory Framework

The Department for Education will soon be releasing an updated version of the EYFS Statutory Framework document. The changes won’t be anything surprising and will be things most childminders are doing already (like the Prevent Duty and British values). By putting them into the Statutory Framework the DfE will consolidate the information that is currently contained into lots of separate documents into one place. Watch this spot for any changes, and any updates that will be required to my products as a result. 

Guidance on Infection Control in Schools and other Childcare Settings

Are you using the most up to date version of this document: Guidance on Infection Control in Schools and other Childcare Settings? This guide, which was last updated in May 2016, will probably be updated again with a new release of the EYFS Statutory Framework.  This guide tells you how long you should exclude a child for certain conditions including conjunctivitis.  

Watchsted – for the latest childminding Ofsted reports in your area

If you are due to inspected soon you might like to take a look at the Watchsted website. The Watchsted site maps the last 100 inspections to be published, giving a summary of the grades achieved. You can search by your local authority.

Tax-Free Childcare: 10 things parents should know

Tax-Free Childcare will be available to around 2 million households to help with the cost of childcare, enabling more parents to go out to work, if they want to, to provide greater security for their families. Here’s the top ten things to know about the scheme.

Are you aware of your rights regarding childminding at schools rather than your house?

If you’re looking to expand your childcare business, have you thought about using the facilities at your local school? You now have a right to request to use school facilities for wraparound or holiday childcare at times when the school isn’t using them.






Free Product Updates


Childminding Policies Document (part of the Contract, Policies and Forms Pack)

This document contains one reference to socket covers on page 12 in the section: Safety of premises, environment and equipment. In light of the recent recommendations (described above) NOT to use socket covers any more, you may want to delete reference to them from your policies document.

You may also want to update the link on page 3 of the policy document to the most up to date version of this: Guidance on Infection Control in Schools and other Childcare Settings? You should keep a copy of this document in your files and share it with parents.

One of the updates in the August 2016 release of the Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings was to clarify the importance of managers understanding the risk of peer on peer abuse in settings. In childminding settings this could apply to bullying between young children. It is a good time to make sure that you understand bullying, the harm it can do to children, and have a policy to intervene if you see it happening in your setting. For this reason, I have added the following to page 10 of my policy document:

It is my policy to challenge bullying and any other form of peer-on-peer abuse. If I see bullying it will be recorded as an ‘incident’ and you will need to sign to say we have discussed it together at collection time.

I have also added a line to my Internet Policy to make it clear that I share information with parents regarding ways to keep their children safe online. I have added:

I would like to recommend that you visit Childnet International to learn more about keeping your child safe online.

Childminding Forms (part of the Contract, Policies and Forms Pack)

This document contains three references to socket covers in: the cleaning schedule form, on the Tips for Great Inspections checklist and on the suggested list of risk assessments. In light of the recent recommendations (described above) NOT to use socket covers any more, you may want to delete reference to them from these documents in your own version of these forms.    

SEF Model Answers

This document contains one reference to socket covers on page 35 in the section: Learning to keep themselves healthy and safe. In light of the recent recommendations (described above) NOT to use socket covers any more, you may want to delete the reference to socket covers from your own SEF.  

Ultimate Childminding Checklist

This document contains three references to socket covers on pages 11, 24 and 36.  In light of the recent recommendations (described above) NOT to use socket covers any more, you may want to ignore the references made to socket covers on these pages. 

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