Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 3: Summer 2014

Welcome to the Summer 2014 Childminding Best Practice Newsletter. I produce this newsletter four times a year to promote childminding best practice topics with a focus on 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:

Road Safety – can you spot 3 ways to improve the safety in this school run photograph?

Bringing books to life in the woods with Forest Childcare mornings

How ‘diverse’ is your language? Take the diversity quiz

The next issue (Autumn) will be coming out in September 2014

Thank you to everyone who sent in contributions to this newsletter. I welcome contributions from readers on all aspects of childminding best practice and will try to include as many as I can.

Thanks for reading,


Members of the Forest Childcare Any childminder can become a member of the Forest Childcare Assocation and make a commitment to weekly outdoor outings.













Forest Childcare Association news

Members of the Forest Childcare Association make a commitment to take the children to outdoor ‘wild’ places once a week, all year long, whatever the weather. It is a fabulous promise to make to the children in your care and with summer on the way, it’s a great time of year to get everyone outside.

Bringing Books To Life in the Woods – contributed by Cheryl and Karl Bentley

We are loving Forest Childcare! My husband Karl & I work together and we regularly go out and about to local outdoor spots and enjoy outdoor learning, play, discovery and adventure! We have discovered new local places such as woods and woodland trails where we take the children to enjoy the great outdoors.

We have done activities such as drawing with sticks in the mud, making footprints, treasure hunts, building dens, climbing trees, hide and seek, collecting natural objects like pine cones/leaves etc... and creating art with them back home (pine cone painting etc) we have also made a Gruffalo house and gone on a Bear Hunt, after reading the books whilst in the woods! We also have plans to build fairy or elf houses and other fun activities such as barking rubbings. Both the children we care for and ourselves love our 'Forest Childcare' mornings and we all have lots of fun outdoors and lots of learning experiences!

The Wild Network

Project Wild Thing is a growing movement of organisations and individuals who care deeply about the need for nature connected, free-range, roaming and outdoor playing kids in the 21st century. I have signed The Forest Childcare Association up to their ‘Wild Network’ to show our support with this movement as it fits with our own principles of taking children to outdoor ‘wild’ spaces. If you run an organisation dedicated to the outdoors like an out of school club, you may want to list your organisation for free on this network as well and sign up for their free newsletter?

Family Fun Day in the Forest – contributed by Lou

“By getting the parents actively involved they were able to see first hand just how much learning was taking place & how their children thrived in an outdoor environment.”  


Just thought I would share one of our great days out this summer. Every year I hold a fun family event for the children in my care, their parents & siblings. This year we had a 'Family Fun Day in the Forest' held at our local country park. Everyone got involved in a den building challenge, explored the forest trails using nature spotter sheets & enjoyed a picnic in the park. The day was a great success with lots of positive feedback & several parents have since reported taking their children on more trips to the woods for their own 'forest fun'! By getting the parents actively involved they were able to see first hand just how much learning was taking place & how their children thrived in an outdoor environment.

SCM Nature Matters Alliance

The 'Nature Matters' alliance is one of the groups currently being formed by the Save Childhood Movement to help get children back into nature. They have recently released a Children’s Outdoor Charter of Rights and you can help by approaching your own towns, cities and councils about adopting it.

Snail racing is not a sport for the easily-bored! Our winning snail took 18 minutes to crawl out of this 1m circle!

EYFS art projects

Download the free templates for these two new EYFS art projects. Each art project comes with guided EYFS observations, telling you what to look for and record while you do the art project with the child.








Snail mosaic – colours project

Self portrait template





Do childminders really have to wear gloves for nappy changes?






























Letters to the Editor

For each issue the starred letter will win a £25 voucher towards any of my products. So please send in your emails to


I have just read your newsletter, most of which I have found very interesting.  What I am not happy about however is the comment about childminders WILL be marked down by an OFSTED inspector for not wearing disposable gloves during nappy changes.

This is not true.  I have had numerous inspections over the years and have discussed this with several inspectors. They are not concerned about whether they are used or not. They are concerned with how you deal with good hygiene standards but do not stipulate wearing gloves as mandatory.  You will not find this in the statutory guidance either. 

Whilst I am sure that you mean well, and if childminders or parents want to use gloves then of course that is fine, you need to be aware of how your comments will be received.  Whoever receives your newsletter may well be panicked by this article and rush off to buy unnecessary stocks of gloves.

There is a difference between good practice and regulation.  I myself have never been able to get on with gloves and have never had a problem in 15 years of nappy changing.  I think you need to amend your newsletter to reflect the ACTUAL requirements.

Best regards, Penny Cartledge

Editor’s comments:

It is very important to me that the information presented in these newsletters is correct, so if you see things that sound wrong to you then you must tell me.

I wanted an answer on this one, so I asked Ofsted, the Dept. of Health, the Dept. of Education, and Public Health England (Health Protection Agency) to see what they had to say on the subject of gloves for nappy changes:

Ofsted confirmed that they have no nappy change regulations: “If the EYFS does not state specifically then the onus to interpret the EYFS is that of the providers.”

I asked the Dept. of Heath, and they sent me to the Dept. of Education. “The Department of Health has not issued guidance about the wearing of gloves when changing nappies in childcare settings. As the Department of Education is responsible for matters relating to childcare, I would suggest that you contact that it directly, as it best placed to provide any further information about this matter.”

The Dept. of Education replied that “childminders and other early years providers are required to abide by the statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS). This does not however mention anything specific about nappy changing, other than providers must ensure there are suitable hygienic changing facilities for changing any children who are in nappies, and providers should ensure that an adequate supply of clean bedding, towels, spare clothes and any other necessary items are always available.”

They then referred me to a Public Health England (Health Protection Agency) publication called Infection Prevention and Communicable Disease Control Guidance for Early Years and School Settings. The document is primarily aimed at schools and nurseries and while it says it is recommended for the North West, there appears to be no ‘national’ version.

This document states, “disposable gloves should be available for staff that undertake nappy changing. Please remember that the use of disposable gloves is not a substitute for good hand hygiene”.

So even this ‘official’ health guidance document does not state explicitly that gloves MUST be worn for nappy changes.

My conclusion is that disposable gloves are NOT a legal requirement for nappy changes, so Ofsted cannot mark you down for not wearing them. It is hand hygiene that is important, not the gloves. Penny, you were right!

*Letter wins £25 vouchers towards any Kids To Go products


In response to your question about aprons in nappy changing, when I was last inspected in January 2012 I asked the inspector about aprons as my Level 3 assessor insisted on them. The inspector said they were not a requirement as they could not expect us to take them when we are out and about. She referred to her manual on this. She went on to say that if they were used they must be disposable.

Sent by Susan Dinmore


I was interested to read your articles concerning men in childcare. My co-minder is also my husband, and after a long career in the 'rat race' he decided it was time for a change. He had often commented on how much I obviously enjoyed my job and that it was something he would like to try. Within 8 months he had registered, completed all his courses, including a level 3 in childcare, and doubled our business! That was 5 years ago and we haven't looked back since.
When we talk to parents about why they chose to come to us, they frequently say it's because we can offer both role models. I know many say that boys particularly benefit from men in childcare but in our setting the girls do too. My husband helps the girls to understand things from a boy's point of view, and can often encourage them in a way I can't such as challenging themselves more on climbing equipment, (perhaps they feel safer because he is stronger?). 

Having said this, I also understand the difficulties men can face in childcare. We look after for several girls aged between 1 and 12 and my husband is constantly aware of how things may look from the outside. All the girls are very affectionate and like to cuddle, and whilst this is generally accepted with very young children, it becomes increasingly difficult when the girls get older. These girls have grown up with my husband and whilst he understands that the way he expresses his affection has to change to be 'appropriate', getting the girls to understand it is something else entirely!

From Rachel, childminder from Nottingham










This ABC Chart has been designed and signed by 26 different childminders from all across the UK and is just one of 40 printable resources in the new Posters Pack.




Win a copy of A Place To Talk at My Childminder’s


Kay’s Tips for Great Inspections – focus on childminding spaces

Ofsted likes us to refer to our ‘childminding settings’ but it is really important to remember that our place of work and our ‘setting’ is also our family home. Deciding how much ‘stuff’ to put up around your house is tricky and it is important to find the right balance. We don’t all want to feel that we are still ‘at work’ when we sit down to watch the TV on an evening. And it is important to remember that your partner and the rest of your family may also have an opinion on this!

When you work as a childminder there are a few things that you should have on display at all times: your registration certificate, paediatric first aid certificate, the Parent’s Poster showing the phone number for Ofsted etc. Deciding how much other stuff – educational posters, art work, notices and signs you display around your house, is very much your decision. Some childminders have dedicated play rooms with wall to wall decorations so that these rooms look like ‘little nurseries’. Other childminders work from their living rooms and prefer to keep everything to one tiny bulletin board they can put up in the morning and take down again at the end of the day when the children go home.

At the end of the day I like to turn my front hallway into my home again

Ofsted doesn’t mind what your house looks like when the children aren’t around, but having some labels and posters around the house when the children are there isn’t a bad idea, especially when Ofsted are watching.

Choose a few nice educational posters for the spaces where the children will be. If you don’t want to have them up permanently, hang them on bulletin boards or in plastic photo wallets on strings so you can lift them up in the morning and remove them easily at night.

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?  Remember, you don’t have to have a dedicated play room to make a great impression. 

Communication Friendly Spaces – by Elizabeth Jarman

Elizabeth Jarman developed The CFS™ Approach in 2006 and has been researching the role that the environment can play in supporting children’s speaking and listening skills specifically ever since. ‘This approach provides us with a framework for review of our environments and also begins to challenge some of the outdated historical stereotyped ideas about the way that environments are set up for children today,’ says Elizabeth Jarman.

 The Communication Friendly Spaces Handbook provides more information alongside Elizabeth’s award winning ‘Place to Talk’ series, which also illustrates the theory in practice.

Elizabeth has donated three copies of A Place to Talk at My Childminder’s for the Summer Reader Competition. The book is full of images and ideas to help you create flexible spaces that are easily set up and then stored away. It includes ideas for babies through to teenagers, recognising the needs of children at different times of the day.

Summer Reader Competition: Make a Summer Display

With the children’s help, make a summer display for your childminding setting, take a photograph of it and send it to me along with a three sentence description about what you were hoping to accomplish. The three winners will be published in this newsletter and will receive a copy of A Place to Talk at My Childminders, by Elizabeth Jarman. Email entries to .

Letter Tracing – contributed by Dawn Stronach, Nursery World Childminder of the Year 2013

“I used the blank number chart from the Posters Pack to help one of my 3 year olds with identifying and writing numbers.”


Diversity logo
























Diversity best practice ideas

Not ‘political correctness gone mad’, the words we use are important because they indicate that we value diversity and respect everybody. Often we use discriminatory language unintentionally, but today that is seen as unprofessional.

QUIZ: How Diversity-Aware is your Language?

Here are nine words commonly used to describe race. Which of these words do you think are normally considered ok to use and which do you think are best avoided?


Click here to reveal the answers.

Makaton Charity

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order. Makaton can really help people who struggle to communicate – you can sign up for their newsletter here.

Supporting families of children with special educational needs and disabilities

This resource from the Family and Childcare Trust highlights the breadth of work being carried out by local authority Family Information Services to support families in response to new reforms set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.

Quiz Answers: How Diversity-Aware is your Language

When we re-examine our choice of words we can see how some words can cause offense.
The following words are generally considered ok to use:


These words are best avoided:

Coloured – historically used to imply unequal status

Ethnic – everyone has an ‘ethnic origin’ of some kind and it is wrong to imply that only some people are ‘ethnic’


Negro – this word has historically racist overtones and should never be used

Non-white – this implies that a person is classified only by their exclusion from the ‘white’ group


  1. Challenge discrimination in any form; don’t ignore it
  2. Encourage questions and answer them directly
  3. Ask if you’re not sure what term to use: black, white or mixed-race? Asian or Chinese? Ask parents which words they want you to use.

‘How to do diversity with under-fives’ – by Kay Woods

My article giving advice on how to tackle diversity issues head on in childminding settings.

Read the full article published in the March issue of Home Childcarer Magazine here.








learningJ logo

Includes 200 photos with model observations.





































What to do if you are worried that a child is being abused.





























Inspirational best practice - ideas, stories and links

How to write observations about bad behaviour

Parents need to know how their children are behaving at your house and one way to open up a discussion about bad or worrying behaviour is to write about it in their learning journeys. You don’t want the focus of your learning journeys to be bad behaviour most of the time, but when needed, the observations in your learning journeys can be the opening you need to bring up or address ‘difficult’ issues you want the parents to be aware of. 

One common problem is shyness. Shyness can be very worrying to parents when they observe it in their children and is not something you should mention in front of the ‘shy child’ as we all know they are more likely to play up to the label if they continually hear it. Chances are the parents don’t know this and may frequently introduce their child as ‘shy’ or apologise in front of strangers for their child’s clingy behaviour. The parents won’t realise that this often exacerbates the problem.

So while it is tempting to avoid writing about ‘shyness’ because you don’t want to make them imagine that their child is unhappy in your care, this is an instance where you can help both the parent and the child with a little bit of very subtle ‘parenting advice’. In your experience children normally join in more as time goes by, although some children will always remain naturally less confident in new, noisy rooms of stranger than others, and this is just the way they are.

Writing bad things in a positive way

The trick is to find the most positive way possible to write about the behaviour. Your goal is to let the parents know that yes, she is shy here too, but that shyness is not bad behaviour, it is challenging behaviour and it is really nothing to worry about. The parents are doing nothing ‘wrong’ and their child is not ‘socially challenged’ either. She just needs time, love and a little boost to her self-confidence so that in time, she may even start to find music club ‘enjoyable’ rather than torture.

Olwen was very shy and clingy at music club again today and wouldn’t join in with the dances.  

Olwen’s confidence at music club is really improving. She bravely sat with the other children for the story song and I told her I was very proud of her for joining in.    

Both of those observations really say exactly the same thing. They both describe the same music class. But in one, I write it very negatively, focussing on the parts that Olwen wouldn’t join in with, reinforcing to Olwen’s parents the idea that she is ‘shy’ and leaving them despairing that their little girl will ever make her own friends when gets to big school! 

The second version focuses on the positive, the parts of the experience of music club that she ‘almost enjoyed’.  Most importantly I am also giving the parents a tool they can use at home. I am gently reminding them not to focus on Olwen’s bad ‘shy’ behaviour and instead to focus on and praise the ‘good, joining-in behaviour’ which will in the long run help Olwen to gradually feel more confident in a situation that is difficult for her.  

Remember, as much as possible to try to record something positive about the child so that everyone can feel good about themselves.


Road Safety

Identify 3 ways that this childminder could make her school run safer? 


Click here to reveal the answers

Steiner Inspired Childminders

There are a number of registered childminders who have been inspired to work with the principles and practice of Steiner Waldorf education and care. If you are interested in learning more about the Steiner approach and how it applies to childminding, take a look at their website and read their newsletter. There is a Facebook group under “Steiner Inspired Childminders” and a network representative Nicole Wickenden who could give you more information.

Why you really should attend a safeguarding course

I have a guilty confession to make: I went on my very first safeguarding course back in December which is dreadful really as I should have done it years ago! I put it off because I didn’t feel that it would teach me anything. I understood and had regard for my local safeguarding procedures, and figured – I’m not an idiot – I know what a belt buckle mark looks like – if a child I’m looking after is being abused I’m going to spot it. So I put it off and never bothered going.

 Let me be totally clear: the number one answer to ‘why you really should attend a safeguarding course’ is because if you are a childminder, it is a legal requirement, just like Paediatric First Aid. With my inspection looming, I thought, there’s no way I’m going to pass my inspection, let alone get outstanding again if I haven’t done a safeguarding course, so, very reluctantly, I decided to sign up, expecting to spend three hours watching the clock.                                                                                                                                       

But actually the Safeguarding Course was a pleasant surprise. It was actually really interesting and I didn’t know quite as much about everything as I had rather arrogantly believed. Is it ok to smack children?  I thought I knew the answer to that question before I went, but now I have learned more about the ‘grey areas’ of things and the concept of ‘reasonable force’. I was challenged to think not about injuries or symptoms in isolation but to look at the big picture. And I was taught how to really ‘think about the explanation I was being given for injuries’ and that my own best judgement and instincts are important too.

It helped that our trainer was an ex-police officer who peppered the boring bits of his talk with stories about throwing “baddies” over the bonnets of cars, handcuffing them and hauling them off to prison!

But he left us with an important message: we, as childminders, are on the front line and that in all the horror stories out there of children who fall between the gaps in our system, we are part of that system and we can be the one who saves the child. 

You need to read What To Do If You Are Worried A Child Is Being Abused, and do take a safeguarding course if you haven’t done so – it’s much more than just a boring legal requirement.

Letter of the week with matching object basket – contributed by Dorothy Williams

“We managed to find zebras and a zip to include in the basket for the week.”

Busy bumblebees Montessori Childcare, based in the centre of London was started by myself, Dorothy Williams in September 2013. l am an Oftsed registered childminder and Montessori Pre-Primary teacher for the ages 2-5. In this article, l am just sharing the idea l used to create a cheap weekly board, to display the letter of the week that l do with the children.

There is a basket under the board for objects to be brought in from home to match the letter of the week sound and the children and l will sit and look at these objects repeating the sounds and also colouring in one of the work sheets weekly, to further reinforce the sound of the week being learnt. I also use a sandpaper letter for the children to feel, which is a Montessori material and the children really enjoy feeling the shape of the letter as well.

The children love to bring in objects from home and some weeks the basket is overflowing depending on the letter of course.  I also cut out another copy of the laminated card with several objects on it. This is then added to my language box. 

The example in the photograph is of the letter Z, which was not an easy one to do but we managed to find zebras and a zip to include in the basket for the week!

Answers: Road Safety Photo

Three simple ways to improve the safety of this photo:

  1. Always use the safety straps on the pushchair. This will stop the child from climbing out while your back is turned (like when you are crossing a busy road).

  2. Always push the pushchair with two hands so you have more control. Teach a young child to hold onto the push chair while you are walking rather than your hand.

  3. Teach young children to walk on the inside of the pavement away from the cars rather than the ‘dangerous side’. This way if they trip and fall they won’t fall under a car.

Send me your road safety tips

I want to write a full article on road safety for childminders for a future edition of this newsletter and I am hoping for advice from other walk-to-school childminders, especially those who walk with big groups of children. Please send your stories, tips and advice on to

Helping you to stay on top of the paperwork














Would you consider childminding for part of the day in your school club or village hall? What if this legislation allowed you to stay self-employed but work as ‘bank staff’ at a small nursery or out of school club?

EYFS Paperwork, Policy and Legislation News– focus on the Sept 2014 changes to the EYFS Statutory Framework

In March 2014 the government published a new version of the EYFS Statutory Framework. All childminders need to read this document and understand how the changes affect your business. It can be downloaded for free from the Foundation Years Website.

The primary purpose of the changes was to introduce childminding agencies. From September, childminder agencies will take on many of the responsibilities that Ofsted did previously for childminders who choose to join agencies.

 There are also several other changes aimed to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and prescription from central Government including the removal of the need for an equal opportunities policy, behaviour management policy and written parental permission for outings.

Proposal to increase the threshold from two to three hours before childcare providers need to register as childminders

One important proposal put forward by the February 2014 ‘The regulation of childcare consultation report and government response’ was that ‘friends’ be allowed to care for children for up to three hours a day without having to register as childminders even if they are paid by the friend. The current threshold for this is set at two hours. I asked the Department of Education to clarify what was happening and was told that:

“the proposal to increase the threshold for registration from two to three hours a day is being taken forward from 1 Sept 2014 through amended secondary legislation but only where childcare is provided ‘in friendship’ and on domestic premises.”

This could become a real problem for professional, registered childminders, especially those of you who do most of your business in before and after school care. From September it seems that it will now be legally possible for any unqualified ‘mum’ to be paid to collect children from school and keep them right up until 6pm as long as it is done ‘in friendship’ without being required to register with Ofsted.

Proposal to allow childminders to operate on non-domestic premises for part of the working week

Another important proposal put forward by the Feb 2014 document was that childminders be allowed to work on non-domestic premises for part of the working week. This could open up new business opportunities for childminders so I was keen to follow this up as I could find no mention of it in the Sept 2014 new EYFS.

The Dept for Education responded to say “this proposal is being taken forward but it requires a change to existing primary legislation and we are looking for a suitable legislative opportunity.  We are hopeful that one might arise in the next Parliamentary session which begins next month.”

Is anyone actually interested in having the right to operate on non-domestic premises? 

Would you change anything about your practice if you were allowed to operate on non-domestic premises for part of the working week? 

Please send comments to: and I will pass along your ideas and comments to the group of people responsible for driving this at the Dept. of Education.

Parental Permission for Outings no longer required

One change that seemed a little strange to me was the removal of the requirement to ask for parental permission forms for outings. I am not sure that I am entirely comfortable with taking children on outings without asking their parents. For one thing I like the parents to feel that they have ‘signed up’ for the outings I take their children on. Also, for me, it is a good form of advertising. So, I am going to keep up the parental permission forms at my setting, but you may feel differently about this.

I asked the Dept. of Education to comment and they said, “This is one of a number of measures to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and prescription from central Government in the Sept 2014 EYFS …  Providers are best placed to judge whether they should obtain parental permission for outings.”




Removal of parental permission requirement for outings

Free Product Updates

In March 2014 a new version of the Statutory Framework for the EYFS was released which becomes effective from September 2014. The primary purpose of the new release was to introduce the new wording required for childminder agencies, but there were also a few other changes designed to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy. There were no changes to the areas of Learning and Development, so the majority of my products require no updates. However, there were a couple of other minor changes that affect the following products:

Contracts, Policies and Forms

In the new statutory framework the requirement for an ‘equal opportunities policy’ has been removed. This corresponds to the ‘Promoting Equal Opportunities’ section on page 16.  You can remove this section if you want to because you no longer technically need it. However, I am leaving mine in place because I personally feel that promoting equal opportunities is an inclusive way to show that I value diversity at my setting.

The requirement to have and implement a ‘behaviour management policy and procedures’ has also been removed from the new EYFS. This is confusing because although the requirement to actually have a policy has been removed you still really ought to have a section on behaviour management because you (and parents) need to understand about the differences between corporal punishment and what you should do in cases where ‘physical intervention’ is used. Because of this, it seems best to me just to leave the ‘Managing Children’s Behaviour’ section on page 10 alone.

The requirement for parental permission for children to take part in outings has also been removed from the new EYFS. This affects the ‘Outings and Transport’ section on page 13. I have decided to continue to ask for permission from parents for outings at my setting, especially for new outings or special day trips. But from Sept it will now be up to providers to decide whether to ask for parental permission at their settings or not.

This new wording is an optional addition to the ‘Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities’ section on page 16 only for those childminders delivering funded places.

As a provider funded by the local authority to deliver early education places, I have regard to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice.

Forest Childcare Pack

The requirement for parental permission for children to take part in outings has been removed from the new EYFS. I have decided to continue to ask for permission from parents for outings at my setting, especially for new outings or special day trips. I like the parents to ‘sign up’ to outings, and the permission slip is really a form of advertising.

There are no updates to my other products at this time.



© Kay Woods – Kids To Go 2013
07866 754144

Kids To Go
28 Phipps Road
Burnham, BERKS