Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 16: Autumn 2017

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Welcome to the Autumn 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:

Gillian Mcrobbie All weathers childminding 1.jpg what would you do if this happened to you childminder.jpg how to make really great chocolate apples forest childcare activity.jpg

Using the outdoors to attract business when you’re newly registered.  

What would you do if this happened to you: parents who hang around?

How to make really great chocolate apples. 

The next issue Winter will be coming out in December 2017 and will include my FREE annual diversity planning calendar.

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 beautiful time of year to get the children outside, enjoying crisp Autumn walks and beautiful leaves.

Natural Childhood Report by Stephen Moss

This article forms background information about how lack of time outdoors is affecting children. Essential background reading on the theory behind lots of the various ‘Forest’ movements in the UK including myself when I started The Forest Childcare Association nearly 5 years ago now.      

Using the outdoors to attract business – advice for newly registered childminders – contributed by Gillian Mcrobbie from All Weathers Childminding   

My service is largely outdoor-based so it seemed only natural to become a member of the Forest Childcare Association. I am newly registered and every parent who has enquired so far has told me that it was the outdoor element of my service that made them get in touch. I'm a firm believer that children should spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors. There's nothing better than watching the kids run around with rosy cheeks playing with nothing but sticks and their imaginations!

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In a typical week we will go to the woods, the beach, the local nature reserve, play parks and country parks. We play in the mud, make nature pictures out of leaves, sticks, stones and anything else we can get our hands on. We practice writing our names in the sand, collect and inspect crab shells, snails, worms and any other mini beasts we find. We climb trees, look down rabbit holes, paddle in streams and if we're really lucky and it rains then we get the waterproofs and wellies on and go out puddle jumping!

We try to stay out the house as much as possible and the Forest Childcare Association pack has so many great activity ideas which keep us busy if we are ever at a loss of what to do.

Free Stickman Activities from the Forestry Commission

If your kids enjoy Stickman, then they will probably enjoy doing these activities next time you are out on your Forest Childcare adventures.

Pony Playgroup - contributed by Samantha Stone 

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“It is a toddler group where I am play leader (as well as childminder)." 


Samantha writes: “We absolutely love attending our Pony Playgroup sessions each is a toddler group where I am play leader (as well as childminder) where we have lots of outdoor play, exploring, time with the ponies and messy play.”

Remember that offering parents something ‘different’ or appealing to a particular niche like this can make your setting stand out to parents overwhelmed with choice for their little ones.

Forest Childcare Facebook Page

The Forest Childcare Association 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. Liking my page is a great (totally free) way to support the work of the Forest Childcare Association whether you are member or not.

A few ideas for what to do with some of the Autumn leaves you collect on your Forest Childcare outings

While you are out and about collecting things this Autumn it can be fun to think about what you will do with the items once you are back home. Here are some ideas.

I love the way Dawn Perry has combined store bought items with things she has found to make some really beautiful invitation to play sorting boxes and baskets.

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I think that Jenny Pearce’s leaf puppets are such a simple and yet effective craft idea that even little children could do. And I love the way that Jacqueline Bateman has combined children’s artwork with real leaves – I think this could be expanded to make a bigger display. 

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Childminding Best Practice Club – monthly activity packs and membership

Art and Activity Ideas

NEW: Childminding Best Practice Club – Themed Activity Packs emailed to you - £2.50 per month – September is ‘Space Themed’

Members of my new Childminding Best Practice Club are emailed a monthly pack of themed activities, plus activities that support continual professional development (CPD). Please join today to get templates and instructions for fun space themed activities like these:

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How to turn your playroom into a space shuttle for space week – contributed by Kay Hartburn

We thought it would be fun to turn our playroom into a space shuttle to explore space theme. The space shuttle was made from cheap plastic tubing and the foil is actually space blankets.  When you are inside you can see through it so the planets I had on my notice board were seen by the children. One of my parents also found a lot of space pictures and a video on YouTube of a space shuttle going up so we all sat inside and pretended to take off one afternoon activities

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Other crafts and activities for Autumn

Here are some lovely ideas for Bonfire Night (5th November and, Remembrance Day (Poppy Day) on 11th November.

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Catherine Wheel craft made by a 2 year old contributed by Anna Elmore. The paper plate spins by using a paper fastener in the middle. Bonfire cakes contributed by Joanne Hopwood made from red and yellow buttercream icing with red icing drips. These look delicious!
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Combining Mr. Potato Head parts with pumpkins – invitation to play set up by Julie Wilkinson
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I love Tina Smith’s doorway poppy display. The poppies are just made from paper plates, but I love the way they are each blatantly the children’s own work and how she has displayed them ‘Lest we forget’ – beautiful, respectful. Thanks for sharing. Thank you Wendy Martin for sharing your lovely, simple but effective poppy biscuit idea.

How to make really great chocolate apples – contributed by Jessica Burdon

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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.

The 8 types of childminders I hate the mos

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Just to make you smile, my article about all the little extras that childminders do for parents and children that so frequently goes unnoticed and unthanked.  

Please Like me on Facebook 

Please like and follow my Facebook page. I share inspection tips, craft and activity ideas, news stories affecting childminders, articles supporting best practice, legislation updates and some funnies. Liking my Facebook page is also a totally free way to support my small business and I really appreciate you 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 a nose bleed. What is the FIRST thing you should do?   

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CLICK HERE or scroll down to reveal the answer

Immunisations required for pre-schooler     

For anyone who isn’t sure or ever gets questions about immunisations for pre-schoolers from parents, or wants to know what is required for any reason, this is the official public health document.

Do you know how to use an Epipen?    

A recent sad case of a 14-year-old boy from North London, who died from an allergic reaction to his school dinner, revealed teachers had his Epipen in their hands, but did not know how to use it. The inquest concluded that despite having an Epipen available, and a history of severe asthma and food allergies, the school neglected their duty of care by failing to use his Epipen. Remind yourself what to do by following the link in the full article here.

Preventing falls from windows

Good article from accident prevention trust about the dangers of falls from windows and how to prevent this from happening.

Overweight and Obesity Factsheet from the Infant and Toddler Forum  

Lots of information about supporting obese children and preventing obesity in families with high risk factors. What you can do to help.

First Aid Pop Quiz - Answer

He has a nose bleed.   The first thing you should do is to sit the child down. Then grab your first aid kit, put on your gloves. Lean the child forward and pinch the soft part of his nose. 

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Encourage them not to speak, swallow, cough, spit or sniff because this may break blood clots that may have started to form in the nose. If the bleeding is severe, or if it lasts more than 30 minutes, call 999 for medical help.  

To remind yourself how to deal with nose bleeds see the St. John’s Ambulance website.


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Make a commitment to promoting diversity at your setting with a Diversity Awareness Pack


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Diversity best practice ideas


Discussing LGBT with Childminded Children  

One childminder recently pointed out to me that her council had just told them they need to show images of LGBT (which, in case you don’t know, stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) couples and families as part of British Values. The childminder contacted me because she felt that this was a bit over the top, and I do understand what she is saying because many children don’t even know if they are a ‘boy’ or a ‘girl’ until they are about 3 years old, so introducing them to concepts like same sex marriage or ‘transgender’ can seem a bit much.  

However, her council had a point. I do think that it’s a good idea to teach young children about same sex couples as part of a wider diversity awareness about different family types. We teach children about single parent families, about blended families and families where children live with grandparents. And within that scope you should also teach them that some families have two mums or two dads. Discussing the idea of ‘transgender’ with this age group though is almost certainly a step too far – as many children of this age are only just learning whether they are a boy or a girl and this age group is very black or white about categorising things. So unless this subject is deeply relevant to the particular child or his family, then in my opinion, this is a subject better left for school age.

In general, LGBT subjects should be brought up without making a massive deal over them, or making them something taboo or strange. I’ve written a page about encouraging gender equality in children. And if you are looking for resources about how to talk about different family types to children, I have a whole section on it in my Diversity Awareness Pack.      

Paving the Way - early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge

This new website provides families, professionals, staff, and commissioners with information about how to provide better local support for children with learning disabilities and behaviours that challenge. Resources on the website include stories about what families have found helpful, case studies and examples of good practice to inspire commissioners and professionals to develop better services, as well as other tools, information, and resources.

Supporting Children and Families Affected by a Family Member’s Offending — A Practitioner’s Guide   

 i-HOP is a one-stop knowledge hub to support all professionals in working with children and families of offenders, bringing together useful information in one place. i-HOP is funded by the Department for Education and delivered by Barnardo’s.    

COMING NEXT ISSUE: Annual free one-page diversity planning calendar for 2018  

 I produce a free one-page printable diversity planning calendar each year and it will come out in the December issue. There are so many diversity and special days you can choose from on the internet, my calendar will help to keep you focussed on some of the key ones while giving you space to fill in occasions that are relevant to the children in your setting.    

Anti-Bullying week 13th – 17th November

This is more aimed at school aged children, but if you want to encourage your school to get involved you might point them to this information? Also, you could use this as a week to do friendship activities with under 5s because it is never too early to start talking to children about this year’s theme which is “all different, all equal” which fits very nicely with diversity awareness and British values.



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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

Display thank you notes where parents can see them – contributed by Edith Lusingu   

If I were a parent trying to decide to where to send my child and I saw this board up like Edith has in her house, then I know that I would be more likely to consider choosing her as my childminder.

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A board of thank you notes conveys two important messages to parents:
1.     You have lots of experience because you have obviously looked after lots of children before mine
2.     Other parents think you are have done a great job.  

 An added benefit is that on days when you are feeling a bit down or the children are being vile, then you can look at the board and remind yourself that you must be doing a pretty good job really!  

Wooden spoons – contributed by Clova Bullen

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I recently made these wooden spoons with numbers on one side and emotions on the other. I have just introduced these and they will work really well to have around all the time especially with younger children.

Encouraging children to learn to take more risks for themselves  

An important aspect of promoting the Characteristics of Effective Learning in children is to help them to learn to take risks for themselves especially as they grow older to prepare them for starting school. I liked this Canadian article about how to increase risks in childhood. The best message was for “Change can be as simple as counting to 30 before stepping in to give children a chance to manage on their own.”

How “Reframing” Results In Happy Parents (And Kids themselves)

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This is a really great article on the Danish idea of ‘reframing’ and how this can help promote the characteristics of effective learning in children by changing the focus from the negative to the positive. A great article with plenty of relevance to adults as well as children.

What would you do if this happened to you:  Parents hanging around? 

You are tired of parents who hang around and chat but you don’t know what to do about it. One parent hangs around for 15-20 minutes in the morning when you are trying to get your kids off to school. When another arrives at pick up time, and her child moans and groans that it’s time to go home, the mum says ‘ok ten more minutes then’ and then chats for 10 minutes before they finally leave. The childminder you used to have for your own children would get the children ready and basically throw them out of the door as you were walking down the drive, and you don’t really like this approach either. You need to find a happy medium but it’s hard. What should you do?  

Here’s what other childminders say:  

This is why I never let parents in...there is no happy medium! We just chat outside. 

It's a difficult one, you want to have a relationship with the parents but at the end of the day they are clients not friends and just as they probably don't want to hang around at their workplace after they finish I don't want them hanging around at my house. As much as I care about their children I want them to go so that I can have family time with my own children.

You could put an email or newsletter out to all parents saying something like: “It has become noticeable that some parents are staying on in the morning/evening. I am happy to chat for a few minutes, but I do have things to do once you have collected…”  By making an announcement to everybody, you aren’t pointing a finger at any parent in particular.

I find having things in your hands, folders etc. makes you look busier.

The parents must feel comfortable with you. Sometimes that's not a bad thing.

I make a point of saying “home time” to the kids. Shoes and coats are on five mins before collection time so children are ready and parents have a quick five min update if need be then they are ready to go. If parents want to talk I arrange a meeting.

I don't like to have coats on ready but as soon as the parent arrives I take them into the hall to get ready; no going back once shoes are on because we don’t wear shoes in the house.

I have boxes with all the kids’ stuff by the door so they can collect and leave!!!

One of my local childminders has an allocated time for each child for drop off and collection and if you come outside your slot you get fined!!

I have a very basic camera directed at my front door. It plays to a screen in my kitchen so we can see easily which parent is arriving.

Parents are a bit like children really and you have to set boundaries and stick to them right from the beginning. They will only do what you ALLOW them to do! I know it's not always easy but you have to be firm and to the point. I am completely upfront and explain why it is not feasible for these things to happen and if the parent doesn't understand my reasoning then maybe my setting isn't for them.

This is a Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning - 29th Sept

Could you host one to raise money for Macmillan? The money you raise at your Coffee Morning will help us make sure no one has to face cancer alone. Sign up for your free Coffee Morning Kit, filled with everything you need to host a brilliant get together.

'Do you charge while the baby is sleeping?’ And other ridiculous things that parents ask childminders  

Please send your own funny stories of the silliest thing a parent has ever asked you, or something funny that has happened to you to Thank you Sarah Millard – that quote never fails to have me in stitches! We all need a good laugh, so please email me with some funnies! 

“I had a parent adamant that their child (who had a sky high temperature yet was violently shivering) wasn't poorly. Apparently he was just 'transitioning into winter'.” – Contributed by Aimee  

 “Do you charge while you take your lunch break?” – Contributed by Susan Mortimer  

“Would you drop this sample (wee) in to the docs for me?” It was parent wee?!?! – Contributed by Michelle

 "Any chance you could take this bag of dead pheasants to the butchers today for me, to be plucked and filleted?" – Contributed by Nicole Mattinson  

One parent asked if I could reduce my fees (I charge 3.50 per hour) as they were having an extension built and it was costing them thousands.  

“Have you got a packet of crisps to go with my lunchtime sandwich?” a parent once asked me as they dropped off their child. – Contributed by Joan  

When I was working at day care I had a dad almost take the wrong baby home!!  When I said, “that's not yours, mind, he's over here,” he said, “oh they all look the same at this age don't they.” !!! contributed by Michelle  

One parent tried to pay me with out of date slim fast meals instead of cash.

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


Supporting children after frightening events

Scary events like terrorist attacks and the tower block fire leave many young children with lots of questions and it can be hard to know how to answer them. Ignoring their questions is wrong. This document contains lots of useful actual ways to address and answer those difficult questions they ask.

EYFS Exemptions Guidance

There may be instances where a family’s religious or philosophical convictions cannot be reconciled with one or more of the learning and development requirements of the EYFS. For these cases there is a process available which enables early years providers to consider modifying or exempting one or more learning and development requirements for a child where their family requests it. Just worth knowing this document exists in case this ever happens to you.

Let’s Talk About   

It is a new website which is a very good resource to dispel myths and rumours relating to Prevent and Channel particularly given the recent tragic terrorist incidents. I felt that this site explained things clearly and is worth a read if you are at all wondering about the Prevent Duty or aren’t really sure what ‘Channel’ is.






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