Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 14: Spring 2017

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Welcome to the Spring 2017 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: what is the first thing you should do for a cut head?

A “no frills” Mothers Day card with free template.

Emma Jordan and her childminded children rescue a hedgehog. 

The next issue (Summer) will be coming out in June 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. It’s a fabulous time of year to take up the challenge in your own setting, great for you as well as the children.

A pregnant horse – contributed by Samantha Crehan   

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“The children (all 7 of them) could see the foal moving and kicking the mum, it was amazing." 

Our best trip would have to be a walk around the woods opposite where I live during the summer holidays. They are only small but full of little "paths" going off and have stables on the other side. So after a nice walk through the first part collecting interesting items for a collage later that day we went to see the horses. One of them was heavily pregnant, the children (all 7 of them) could see the foal moving and kicking the mum, it was amazing. We went back a few weeks later and mum and foal were doing very well. The kids loved it. 

Forest Childcare is a way to take business back from pre-schools – contributed by Karen  

From listening to other childminders there's lots unhappy regarding 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.  

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.

How to write a Forest Childcare blog to promote your childminding business – contributed by Clare Maher

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Stories of children enjoying themselves outdoors are a great way to show parents that children are happy in your care. It is a great way to advertise the service you provide and promote your business! Childminder Clare Maher writes a blog about her Forest Childcare adventures which she shares with the parents. Check out her “Gruffalo Hunting at Woodlesford Lock” blog to see how she does it.

Emma Jordan and her childminded children rescue a hedgehog

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The children and I are really enjoying all the ideas in the 50 craft and activities that came with the Forest Childcare Pack!  So far we have been out for a walk in nearby woods and taken our colour scavenger hunt sheet with us.  We have been looking at all the different birds and looked at seasons.  The children have enjoyed doing the summer display and using the ice creams cut outs to make ice creams.  They have also made their birds nest cakes which they loved!  We were also lucky to find a hedgehog in my garden last week. The children were so excited!  Unfortunately I realized it was quite poorly so had to call the RSPCA who came and collected it, but it was a good exercise to teach children to care for wild animals.

The Big Pathwatch project from the Ramblers

Fancy taking part in the Big Pathwatch project in your area?  Something useful to do while you’re out walking with the children. Wherever you walk, use a handy new app to tell Pathwatch what you find. It could be a wonky bridge or a locked gate; a flooded path or fallen tree. The idea is to help keep our paths open for everyone to enjoy.


Art Projects for Mothers Day  


When you are making gifts for Mothers Day, you have to decide what type of project you want to achieve. Do you want to make a gift that the mother will keep and treasure forever?  Or do you want to make a quick, simple project that the children can make themselves? You may want to read my blog: “How much help should you give childminded children on their Christmas cards?” which examines this issue.  

Download the free template for my really simple, no frills Mothers Day card here.

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Here are some other lovely ideas for Mothers Day. Some have high levels of child involvement. Others are intended as keepsakes. It’s up to you what type of project you want to make on special occasions.

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I love Ann Stanley’s handprints. The parents loved them. Ann writes: “Although I had to do a lot of the work, the older children coloured in the base. But they were a keepsake for parents”. Contributed by Lizzie Gardiner. The poem reads:

The pitter patter of little feet/ leave behind something dear and sweet/ A precious treasure for you to keep/ The memories of my little feet.
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Contributed by Julie Lumby Contributed by Wendy Corbridge
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Contributed by Jassfourfun Childcare  Ever thought of making your own wrapping paper? This is a great idea. Thanks, Katriona Ismail.




Articles, Blogs and Information Pages

Information pages on    

I have lots 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. You just need to enter your email address. Please note that the blog is not the same as my newsletter.

How to burn out at childminding…. in 10 easy steps

Some tongue in cheek advice for all childminders on balancing childminding with life without burning out. [more]

17 childminders share their real accident stories – don’t let these happen to you!

Nearly every childminder has a horror story to tell, an accident or a near miss story…  [read more]

Three solutions for childminders who fear losing business to the 30 hours problem

In September 2017, each childminder will have to decide for themselves whether to offer parents some or all of the 30 funded hours… [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.






































Safety and Health

First Aid Pop Quiz

He has collided with the corner of the kitchen counter. What is the FIRST thing you should do?  

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CLICK HERE or scroll down to reveal the answer

Grapes and Jelly Cubes are choking hazards 

Lack of awareness of grape choking puts children at risk. Grapes can completely plug a child’s airway, with research suggesting they are the third most common cause of death in food-related incidents.   Another choking hazard is cubes of raw jelly. In the past it was common for nurseries and childminders to give children raw jelly cubes to play with as part of sensory play. A sad case in which a toddler choked to death on one at a nursery in recent years has called attention to the dangers of jelly cubes. You should always be careful and do a risk assessment when you let children play with food items.   Choking is one of the most common serious first aid situations that childminders have to deal with. Never leave a child unattended while eating. Would you know how to save a choking child? Take my quiz here.

New Handwashing Guidance

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New handwashing guidance has been released by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for all children and young people. The important points for childminders are to: 
  • encourage children to wash and dry their hands after using the toilet and before eating
  • make sure that children understand the importance of washing and drying their hands 
  • provide facilities including running water and soap for washing and drying hands for children, yourself and visitors to your setting  
  • ensure there are always good standards of food hygiene

Golden Apple Award 

Run by Bury Council, this scheme encourages children with healthy eating. The Golden Apple Award Scheme is designed for early years settings and aims to promote a healthy and balanced diet along with food being prepared in the cleanest and safest way. I have no idea how this would work if you live outside of Bury, but the information and ideas in the pack are great. I can’t see any reason why if you felt you had earned a Golden Apple award that you couldn’t use the idea in your setting, even without a formal letter from Bury Council.

New Oral Health Toolkit  

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A toolkit has been published by Public Health England to support supervised toothbrushing within Early Years settings and schools. You can read and download 4Children’s information pack here.

Physical Activity guidelines in the revised EYFS Statutory Framework  

The Chief Medical Office has published guidance on physical activity that providers may wish to refer to. The guidance is divided into age categories including small children and even information for adults about recommended physical activity.

Prescription medicines clarification in the revised EYFS Framework

The revised EYFS Framework 3.45 makes it clear that “Prescription medicines must not be administered unless they have been prescribed for a child by a doctor, dentist, nurse or pharmacist (medicines containing aspirin should only be given if prescribed by a doctor).” It is a good time to take a look at your own medicine policies and how you run your practice and check that you are adhering to this. My policies say that “medicines need to be kept in their original box and prescriptions need to have the prescription labels on them”, for example. This way it is clear that the medicine has been prescribed by a professional for that child.

First Aid Pop Quiz - Answer

He has collided with the corner of the kitchen counter and cut his head.  

The first thing you should do is to sit the child down. Then grab your first aid kit, put on your gloves and apply pressure to the wound with a clean dressing.  

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Once you get the bleeding under control, apply an appropriate dressing and then give him an ice pack wrapped in a cloth.  

Even if the head injury is not serious enough to go to the hospital and the child appears to make a full recovery, remember that with head injuries you must monitor the child carefully for signs of concussion or compression. If the child has lost a lot of blood you should also look out for signs of shock.  

To remind yourself how to deal with head injuries, and for signs that the head injury may be more serious, see the St. John’s Ambulance website. To remind yourself about signs of shock and how to deal with it, see the St. John’s Ambulance website.



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


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Inspirational best practice - ideas, stories and links

Wipes Box Numbers Activity – contributed by Sophie Hesketh 

I love DIY crafts ideas for the kids. Thank you Sophie, this is such a great use of wipes lids.

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Advice for early years providers on how run a sustainable business

All early years providers need to consider business sustainability. This is a useful article from Foundation Years with lots of links.

Discovering sounds activity – contributed by Amanda Armitage

Love this discovering sounds activity using cornflakes and farm animals in a play tray. “Sounds like walking in the leaves,” says her three year old.

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What would you do if this happened to you? – Lost shoe   

You get home from the school run and discover that a little girl who was with you has lost a shoe. You had four other children with you, and simply didn’t notice her kick it off. You retrace your steps, but can’t find it anywhere.

 You text the mum and apologise. You ask her to replace the shoes and to take their cost out of your next payment. The mum thanks you for your kindness and does exactly that. But now you feel terrible because it doesn’t seem fair. These things happen and if you were the mum you would never have asked your childminder to pay. You wonder if you did the right thing, replacing the shoe, or if you were taken advantage of?

Here’s what other childminders say:  

 I don't think you can be annoyed if you offered to buy her some new ones. It's a different story if Mum expected you to buy some, but you offered.  

As a childminder I would have replaced the shoes, as shoes can be expensive and I would have been very annoyed if my childminder lost my daughter’s shoes and didn't offer to replace them. So you did the right thing in offering and now you have a happy parent not an upset one.  

You did the right thing. It's frustrating but you have a happy parent.  

I feel for you but I would not have offered nor paid for the shoes. It's just one of those things. I would have just promised to look out for it during the morning school run.  

This has nearly happened so often that I take the shoes off when in the buggy and put a blanket over their legs now to keep feet warm. Parents send children in very expensive things sometimes, I wish they wouldn't!

 I'm 5050 on this, I don't know what I'd do. I get annoyed when I lose my own daughter’s shoes etc.... but at the same time it happens.... It’s like school - they get pen on their tops or food stains or lost jumpers and cardigans..... we don't expect the school to replace them.

 I've covered myself with a clothes policy re lost coats, shoes etc. It states that I'm not responsible for lost items and I will not replace. Parent has to sign the policy from day one, so if it happens and they get annoyed I would just refer them to the policy!!! That policy has saved my skin when I had a child take off and throw 35 leather shoes out of the buggy and I didn't notice! Retraced my steps and found nowt. Mum was clearly annoyed but there was nothing she could say cos she'd signed the policy!!!!

How to promote the Characteristic of Effective Learning (COEL): Creating and Thinking Critically 

Plan time at your setting for children to play with mathematical and construction toys including jigsaws, blocks, train sets, threading, sand and water play and dens. Toys or activities that involve counting things, sorting, building, shapes and sizes etc. are all designed to help promote the Learning and Development area of Mathematics.

Many of these ‘Mathematical’ and construction activities also help to promote the COEL: Creating and Thinking Critically. They are designed to help children to test their ideas about space, shapes and sizes, to find new ways to do things, to make links and to change strategy as needed. They offer you plenty of opportunities to ask children to review what approach worked and to try something differently next time.

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These sorts of activities also naturally lend themselves to observations about a different COEL: Active Learning when children take pride in what they have built and keep on trying to get something to work. Remember to praise the children about how they approach the task and how they keep on trying. In other words, remember to ‘praise the process’ rather than just the end result.  

Do you have enough of these sorts of toys? These toys are the sorts of things people sell second hand all the time, so check online and in charity shops before buying new.

Make your own shoes activity – contributed by Teresa Boxall  

Love this dressing up craft idea from Teresa. These are just made from strong paper and decorated with stars.

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Simple science – sink and float activity – contributed by Tracie Monahan

This is a great idea to do with children using your water table, or inside over the sink. Which objects will sink and which will float? Why? Get them to find their own items and guess before they drop the items in. This activity is a great way to promote creating and thinking critically which is one of the Characteristics of Effective Learning.

Early Years Assessment Material

 This site has good examples of how to write children’s learning journeys, including examples of writing about the Characteristics of Effective Learning. These observations were contributed by nursery schools across London to help practitioners to assess children’s learning using the Development Matters guidance.    

Encouraging language and literacy free resources

 I read a very disturbing article on this site about children starting school in parts of the country with the language level of 18 month olds simply because their parents don’t talk to them enough at home. This site is worth a look and has lots of excellent information about milestones plus downloads for promoting literacy with under-fives as well as school age children.  

Paper gingerbread men – contributed by Beth Green

 Love these – a great way to teach children about body parts.

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 444: Even if you regularly stack two babies directly on top of each other, they still count as two separate children for your childminding ratios. Number 801: If you use “child dangling” as part of your discipline procedure, make sure to use a good lifting technique. Leaning over while dangling, as this childminder is doing, could result in a back injury.
how to fail your ofsted inspection 1.jpg  Number 652: Always serve diet sodas to any under 5s in your care to show Ofsted that you promote healthy eating.  

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


March 2017 new release of EYFS Statutory Framework

The Early Years Statutory Framework was re-released on the 3rd March. Here is a one page summary of the changes for providers.

A link to the revised EYFS Stat Framework is on my Official Documents Links page.

There are no major changes that should surprise any childminders. If you look after exclusively ‘out of school hours’ care for under Reception age children, then there is clarification regarding the learning and development areas of the EYFS that you should be aware of. There is also a clarification to when exceptions can be made to normal childminding ratios (3.42) and to the medicines section (3.45) to make it clearer that prescription medicines must not be administered unless they have been prescribed for the child by a doctor, dentist, nurse or pharmacist.

Out of school hours learning and development EYFS requirements clarification

Do you offer exclusively out of school hours care? For children in Reception class, or older, it has always been the case that you do not have to do the Learning and Development requirements of the EYFS. The new release of the EYFS clarifies that “providers offering care exclusively before and after school or during the school holidays for children younger than those in the Reception class age range, should continue to be guided by, but do not have to meet, the learning and development requirements.” This is a useful clarification for many childminders.

Childcare Business Grant Scheme for new childminders – now open again  

£500 or £1000 grants are available to newly registered childminders (those who have registered in the last 12 months). The scheme is due to end by 31 March 2018, or sooner if all funds have been exhausted, so don’t wait if you qualify.

Information on becoming a childminder from Morton Michel

Morton Michel has revamped its Childminder Help website to help budding childcare professionals on their journey to becoming a registered childminder. Packed with essential information on how to become a childminder, the new site features the lowdown on the training required, insurance and general help and advice sections. 

Child car seats law  

Checklist for buying the right car seat from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This is a great link to share with parents to make sure they are up to speed on child car seat law.

30 hours information and opinions

From September 2017, 3- and 4-years olds of working parents will be entitled to 30 hours per week of government-funded childcare. There is so much speculation around how this will affect childminders and a lot of wrong information out there. This article from Pacey has some good, factual information. I also like this article from Nursery World about how this will affect childminders. This article about why the free childcare is unlikely to encourage more parents back to work from Morton Michel is also very much worth a read. 






Free Product Updates


Characteristics of Effective Learning Pack improvement

I ‘kept on trying’ and using my ‘creating and thinking critically skills’ have finally figured out how to put page numbers onto my Characteristics of Effective Learning Pack WITHOUT them showing on the printable posters and certificates etc. So if you would like me to email you a new PDF version of the pack with page numbers please email me and request one.

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