Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 4: Autumn 2014

Welcome to the Autumn 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:

How to build a Dinosaur World in the woods

Can you spot 6 safety hazards in this childminder’s home?

A simple craft for Diwali with templates

The next issue (Winter) will be coming out in December 2014

Thank you to everyone who sent in contributions to this newsletter. I welcome contributions from readers on all aspects of childminding best practice. If I haven’t used your contribution in this newsletter, I am probably saving it for a future edition.

Thanks for reading


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


Check that your insurance covers you if you want to let the children climb trees or use tools.

































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. A Forest Childcare Pack gives you all the tools you need to make this happen including permission forms, risk assessments and safety tips.

Important Note About Insurance for Forest Childcare Providers

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


I am a member of the Forest Childcare Association and I wanted to try some more advanced Forest School type activities with the children I care for. I thought it would be fun to try building fires with the children and cooking on them. And I often let them climb trees. I asked my insurance provider and I was really shocked to find out that there are a number of activities like this that are not really covered by your normal public liability insurance. I am wondering if you know if there are any insurance providers who will provide cover to childminders to do these activities without an official Forest School Level 3 qualification?  Thanks, Rachael

Editor’s Comments:

One of the most important aspects of Forest Childcare is that any childminder can become a Forest Childcare provider. Forest Childcare is about making a commitment to take childminded children on weekly outdoor outings to wild places, to woods, fields, parks and playgrounds and allowing those children to explore and run around when they get there. Forest Childcare also involves allowing the children to learn to take some risks for themselves while they are there.

Your public liability insurance will cover you for any NORMAL outing and activity you would do with the children in the woods including hiking, bug-hunting, treasure-hunting and den-building. However, certain activities including tree climbing, whittling, using tools such as saws, fire-making and cooking on fires may be restricted by your insurance provider. If you plan to do any of those types of activities with the children you care for, you are advised to first contact your insurance provider and to check their small print.

Dinosaur World - contributed by Clare Duval, childminder in Devon

“We have also taken the toy dinosaurs to the woods and built a dinosaur world for them, using only the things we found in the woods.”  


I have always been a childminder that takes children out no matter what the weather even when I was a childminder the first time around.  I have returned to childminding after 10 years in nurseries as I find it is the best way to ensure that the children I care for get the very best I can give them.

In the Easter Holidays I took the children in my care on a mini beast hunt after a week of doing lots of activities around the theme which they all really enjoyed. We have also taken the toy dinosaurs to the woods and built a dinosaur world for them, using only the things we found in the woods. This activity was a huge success with the children although perhaps not so much with the parents as some of the children now keep asking their parents to repeat the activity!

An Autumn Walk - contributed by Annette + Mick's Quality Childcare, Hatfield, Doncaster

“Mick planted a "pot hedgehog" in the undergrowth, and our excited children jumped for joy when they "found it".    


Yesterday we enjoyed an Autumn walk after showing the children various photographs and pictures of Autumn leaves, conkers, acorns, feathers, leafless twigs, squirrels, hedgehogs and a combine harvester. The children thoroughly enjoyed exploring in the woods and along a country lane. They found an assortment of the objects from the pictures and actively looked for different coloured leaves.

Mick planted a "pot hedgehog" in the undergrowth, and our excited children jumped for joy when they "found it". 
Upon returning from our walk we placed our findings in a play tray for the children to look at and discuss their collection. We feel that the best way for a child to explore nature and all it has to offer is to be "active" outdoors. Learning is then enhanced as the children recall our "Autumn Walk" when we recall our outing and re-visit the pictures and photographs because the children can then relate the learning activities to their participation in the activity.

Wildlife Trackers

Wildlife Trackers is a game you can sign up for that encourages children to reconnect with nature. Its basic aim is to improve general basic knowledge of common creatures in the UK.

Mud kitchen – contributed by Paula Gerrard of Little People Childminding Services in Blackburn, Lancashire

“We just finished our mud kitchen and I’m very pleased with it.”  

I really like Paula’s mud kitchen because it shows just how simple it can be. Sometimes when you see mud kitchens online or in magazines they look frankly nicer than my REAL kitchen. Paula’s example shows us that all you really need is a couple of low cost ‘cooking’ items, an outdoor space and a water supply.





Autumn Art Projects

Download the free templates for the colours scavenger hunt and Diwali Lamp here.  

Diwali craft – make a simple paper ‘diya’ lamp to celebrate on 23rd October

Autumn is a great time to do a colours scavenger hunt

Autumn Art using a Laminator – contributed by Rachael


This is an activity to try with some of the Autumn leaves you collect with the children. You will also need a laminator, some laminator sheets, crayons and paper.

We sorted the leaves on to laminate sheets and carefully laminated them. Make sure the leaf stems are not too big for your laminator or it jams, and don't use really cheap sheets.  You can also iron the sheets, placing a tea towel over them first.  We talked about colours, size, shape and textures.  Use a mixture of leaves including evergreens.

We clipped the laminated sheets to a clipboard, covered them with paper and rubbed different coloured crayons up and down the paper to magically reveal the leaf prints.  We displayed our work in the hall. I will be using the laminated leaves at our Tots group as it is easier for younger children to make rubbings (they don't move as easily as unlaminated leaves!)

When we finished, we displayed the laminated leaf sheets in the windows – they look really pretty and it really brings the colours out.



The Ultimate Childminding Checklist is 3 checklists in 1 including a count down to your Ofsted Inspection.


Kay’s Tips for Great Inspections

People are always asking me what they need to have in place for their inspections. The answer to this question depends very much on what Ofsted grade you are hoping for. If you simply want to avoid getting marked as inadequate, there are 49 clear legal things you need to have in place. If you are aiming for the best Ofsted grades, then there are lots of best practice initiatives that you could consider doing at your setting.

Sometimes I think it can be hard for childminders to tell the legal requirements from the best practice ones. I decided to write a new product which I have called The Ultimate Childminding Checklist. This aims to remove the guesswork, the rumours and speculation of talking to friends and other childminders and presents a simple list that shows you the legal vs. the best practice things you can do both in the day-to-day running of your setting and to prepare for your inspection.

 Despite what Ofsted writes on its website (that you shouldn’t need to do anything to prepare for your inspection), I don’t know any childminders who don’t do at least some preparation for their Ofsted inspection. The best advice is to be ‘mostly prepared’ for your inspection all of the time. If you have everything mostly up to date, most of the time, then there won’t be a last minute cramming session getting everything together.

The Ultimate Childminding Checklist is designed to help all childminders to prepare for your Ofsted inspection whether you just want to make sure that you are doing the 49 legal requirements you MUST do for the EYFS framework, whether you are looking for a list of best practice ideas, or if you want some tips on becoming one of the 10% of childminders who achieve outstanding.

Continual Professional Development (CPD) Free Log

Childminders joining agencies will have to do around 16 hours CPD per year. Independent childminders will become increasingly in charge of securing our own training and CPD. Ofsted wants to see that you are taking charge of your own CPD and that you have a plan in place for how you want to improve yourself and your setting. One way to show Ofsted what you are doing is to keep a simple log showing what training you have done, and what training you feel you could need.

Download my very simple FREE Continual Professional Development (CPD) and Training Log here.

‘Overdue’ Inspections and Paying for Inspections

My friend, Caroline and I (both rated outstanding) are coming up to 5 years now since our previous Ofsted inspections. Other childminders have emailed me to say they are past the 5 year mark! I was a little shocked and secretly beginning to wonder if Ofsted have in fact ‘lost me’ in some way. Recently, another childminder, who was rated ‘good’ at her previous inspection, but has put in lots of improvements and is now very keen to get ‘outstanding’ wrote to me to ask if I knew if you could request for your inspection to be brought forward, or even to pay for an inspection. I decided to write to Ofsted and find out.

Ofsted replied: “In response to your enquiry paying for an early inspection isn’t something that Ofsted offers to registered Providers.

Please be advised that you will not be overdue for your inspection. Providers are inspected in each inspection cycle. The previous cycle was from 2008-2012 with the current inspection cycle running from September 2012 to July 2016. Therefore, you will be inspected before the end of this cycle.”


A few eye-catching displays can make a great impression on parents and inspectors. For some simple ideas, try the Posters Pack for Childminders – 40 printable resources.

Summer Reader Competition Results

Thank you to everybody who entered the Summer Reader Competition. You sent in some lovely summer displays and it was really hard to choose the winners so in the end I let my mum decide them for me – thanks, Mum! The three winners will each receive a copy of A Place to Talk at My Childminder’s, by Elizabeth Jarman.

I guess I wanted children to feel proud and happy about their work, as they made most of it and also helped to put it up. It can be interactive as children keep moving picture of themselves in different places on the display and talking about it. As we live by the sea, they can associate themselves with what they can see on the picture - beach, fireworks, sandcastles.. Each child drew themselves! Very proud of this one!

Adriana at Busy Bodies Childminding

We drew round real flip flops to get the shape. The children all keep a set of flip flops here in the summer so they can go in and out the garden. Sent in by Helen’s Childcare, Bucks

I used breadcrumbs for sand! Sent in by Anne from Bristol


Diversity logo

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

Diversity best practice ideas


Teaching children about diversity helps them to understand that people can be different and the same all over the world. A person’s religion is one crucial thing that causes people to look and behave differently. For example, small children may notice that one of their friends is a vegetarian. And they may point out turbans and head scarves. One way to explore diversity in your setting is to celebrate a few key religious festivals with children throughout the year. Good ones to start with are Christmas, Easter, Eid and Diwali.

Celebrate Diwali on 23rd October

Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights and is celebrated in Britain on 23rd October this year. Diwali is a family time and many families get together for the celebrations. British Hindus often begin the day by attending their local temple, then have a big meal with their families and share presents. Hindus celebrate Diwali by lighting small clay lamps called diya. These lamps are kept on during the night in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Many people set off fireworks, and these displays frequently coincide with Bonfire Night displays.

The template for making a paper diya with the children in the art projects section of this newsletter.

SEN and Disabilities: Developing Effective Anti-bullying Practice

The anti-bullying alliance website has a good range of resources for tackling bullying including information and resources about special educational needs and / disabilities (SEND) and bullying.


The new MindEd website, funded by the Department of Health, provides information and e-learning modules to anybody working with children with mental health problems.



























Free Range Childcare is the new childcare listing site that specialises in home-based childcare. 



































Inspirational best practice - ideas, stories and links

Marketing Your Childminding Business – contributed by Karen Dennis, author of The Next Best Thing To Mummy

I think it is a good idea to make your health visitor aware that you are a registered childminder, as this will be the first port of call for many new mothers intending to return to work. Another good way of advertising is to be seen. Go to local toddler group sessions and events at the children’s library. I used to wear a t-shirt with the name of my business printed on it. Having a name for your business makes it appear more professional. Outside local schools, while collecting your own or minded children is another place where you will be noticed. It is a good idea to let the school secretary know that you are a registered childminder, able to drop-off or collect pupils from that particular school.

“My biggest tip to marketing your own childminding business is to always be on your best behaviour.”

My biggest tip, to marketing your own childminding business is to always be on your best behaviour.  (May seem a strange thing to say) but when you are out and about in the community with your minded children, members of the public do tend to look at you (sometimes in horror, when they see how many children you have with you). I have been asked on many occasions, questions, such as, “How many children do you actually have?” and “Why are your children so well behaved?” Both of which made the person asking the question feel a bit embarrassed when I explained that I was a busy childminder.

Always, also carry some business cards with you. I was even asked if I had a card whilst queuing in a public toilet (again, it was an inquisitive person commenting on how I had my hands full, with so many little ones. When I said I was a childminder, her response was that her friend was looking for one and could she have my details to pass on?

I used to advertise in as many places as possible, when I had vacancies. I tried to do this where it wouldn't cost me too much money. The most successful was at local toddler groups, on their notice boards, but I have also placed a notice in my local hair dressing salon and in my rear car window. I did, for a while, have my car professionally sign written, on the back. This showed my name, business name and contact name, the fact I was a registered childminder, my phone number and web site.

Getting into the local paper, for a good reason, not because you haven’t paid your council tax! is another good way of advertising. I once organised a Teddy bear,s picnic, in the local park, during National Childminding week and invited along the local papers to do a feature. On another occasion we took part in the Bardos toddle and again appeared in the paper.

Childminders are professional childcare providers, treat them that way! – contributed by Annelize Cruz, founder of Free Range Childcare

“If we are going to do something radical to promote social mobility, it’s too late by the time these youngsters are 11 or 16. With poor families now getting 15 hours free provision of childcare, the Government should try to ensure they go to a school-based nursery, not the local childminder. (Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw in the Evening Standard – 3rd September 2014)

Tonight I am so upset and angry I don’t even have words for it.  But I'm going to try. As a parent and someone who has for many, many months been trying to fix the ill-informed view of childminders, I feel very frustrated and disheartened. This all came about because of the above statement made by one person who calls himself a professional. The head of Ofsted no less, supposedly an ‘independent and impartial’ inspection and regulation body.

People already think of childminders as babysitters, even though childminders are professionals that are qualified, registered and inspected childcare providers.  It’s because of comments and statements made by individuals like this that people like myself have to spend numerous nights and weekends which are supposed to be our free time, trying to make a difference, trying to raise the profile of childminders.

In fact, surely childminders are the better option for children from ‘deprived’ families, children who do not get to experience day-to-day life in a home environment like every child in the world deserves?  When going to a childminder's setting, these deprived children get nurtured in a welcoming home environment, provided with a real-life learning experience, benefit from sharing the family setting with children of different ages, allowing them to learn from each other.  They can enjoy a range of activities and outings, from visiting parks and playgrounds to attending toddler groups and taking trips to local attractions. Naturally this should be provided by the parent, however when this option is not available or viable then all of this can be offered by a highly professional, qualified, registered and inspected childcare professional in her home – a childminder! I am happy to go as far as to say childminders are the ‘free-range’ option when it comes to childcare.

I have been working too hard through my website through writing articles, commenting and standing up for childminders the last few months to just let this go.  I think Sir Michael Wilshaw should be making a formal apology to every single childminder who has devoted every working hour to help and support families, to help educate and provide children with opportunities.

Together I believe we can make a difference and we can raise the profile for childminders.  Between now and the 1st of December 2014 I will reduce the listing rates to £25 which gives you a featured listing for 12 months and for every childminder that takes out a listing I will donate £5 to children in need and will hand them the cheque after the 1st of December 2014.  Sign up now to the Free Range Childcare website and receive our newsletter packed with business tips, activity ideas, articles and special offers unique to subscribers and help me raise the profile for childminders!

Safety in the home

Can you spot 6 potential safety hazards to young children in this childminding photograph? 


Click here or scroll down to reveal the answers

Home-made Activity Board – contributed by Laura Handley

“It’s really basic but the children love it.”  


First we went to the shop to buy the items, then I involved the children in making it. It’s really basic but the children love it.

How to get World Book Day 2015 vouchers – contributed by Ann Ross

If you have any children that don’t attend nursery or preschool or school at your setting you can ask to be sent vouchers for them by emailing the World Book Day organisers. Their website online form only works for schools.

Feelings Spoons – contributed by Carley’s Childminding

A really clever and simple idea for your childminding settings. Thanks for sharing, Carly.

Answers: Safety at Home Photo

There are six potential hazards in this photograph.

  1. Nappy sacks – children, especially young babies can suffocate on nappy sacks. It is tempting to let the children play with them in your baby dolls role play, but safer not to just in case.
  2. Balloons – popped latex balloons are a leading cause of suffocation deaths in young children. Balloons are not dangerous to children when they are blown up, but please remove them when they burst.
  3. Blind cords – children can strangle themselves on looped blind cords like these. You should tie them up.
  4. Cleaning products – this is just an example of how easy it is to overlook things and why it is important to risk assess your setting continuously. It is so easy to get distracted half way through a task like cleaning and accidentally leave cleaning products within reach of children.
  5. Trip hazards – watch out for trailing cables. Fasten them to the wall or tape them to the floor.
  6. Grapes sliced the wrong way – If you are going to cut grapes up for children because you are wary of them being choke hazards then make sure you slice them lengthways. Sliced crossways they are still exactly the same diameter as they are when whole (and as a child’s windpipe).

How many did you get right?


Helping you to stay on top of the paperwok

EYFS Paperwork, Policy and Legislation News– focus on new documents released in September 2014

EYFS Sept 2014

In September, the new version of the EYFS Statutory Framework came into force. So please make sure you are using the most current version. You can download it free of charge from the Foundation Years website.

SEND Code of Practice

There is a new Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice. You may want to look at the guide to reforms published by Foundation Years which also includes information about the Local Offer.

Guidance on Infection and Control in Schools and Other Childcare Settings

This document that I have always given to parents as a guide to when to keep their children away from my house has recently been updated. Unfortunately the handy 1 page version has now been replaced with this 15 page version.

Tax expenses for childminders

Here is a useful link from the HMRC about tax expenses specifically for childminders you can use to complete your tax return.

Childcare Business Grants – for setting up childcare businesses

The scheme offering grants of up to £500 to people in England who want to start their own childcare business has been extended until 31 December 2014.

Ofsted Evaluation Schedule for Inspections

This has been updated for Sept 2014 so if you are due to be inspected soon then make sure you are using the most up to date version of this document.

Childminder agencies

From September childminder agencies can now be established. More information from the Dept of Education is here.



Free Product Updates

If you are using any of the following products, please read this free update information:

Forest Childcare

In the original Forest Childcare booklet there is a section on risk assessments for climbing trees. You need to be aware that while your public liability insurance will cover you for any NORMAL outing and activity you would do with the children in the woods including hiking, bug-hunting, treasure-hunting and den-building, certain ‘riskier’ activities such as tree climbing, using saws, fire-making and cooking on fires may be restricted by your insurance provider. If you plan to do any of those types of activities with the children you care for, you are advised to first contact your insurance provider and to check their small print.

Contracts, Policies and Forms

This is a new form that you can download to make a record of your training and continuous professional development. It allows you to record the courses and training you have completed and leaves a space for you to fill in your thoughts on any future training requirements you may have.

Learning Journey Plus

If you are using my blank templates for recording your learning journey observations, you may prefer to use this new updated version which includes the Characteristics of Effective Learning.  It certainly isn’t necessary to record the Characteristics of Effective Learning when you make an observation, but a few people have asked me for this, so here you go!

Diversity Awareness CD is now a Book

If you have bought my Diversity Awareness CD, I wanted to let you know that I have now made it into an electronic book rather than the individual files in folders as they are on the CD. Some of you may like it the old way. I thought it was clunky and prefer the new email-able format which is a single, searchable PDF or Word file.

If you have previously bought the CD and would now prefer to have the Diversity Pack emailed to you as a single PDF file, then please get in touch and I will email it to you free of charge. Please give me a few days to respond in case I get hundreds of emails at once!


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