Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 5: December 2014

childminding best practice newsletter 5

Welcome to the December 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:

Extreme Road Safety  Diversity Planning Calendar 2014 chinese new year small

Road safety tips for the school run from experienced childminders

Free Downloadable 2015 Diversity Planning Calendar

Ideas to celebrate Chinese New Year in February

The next issue (Spring) will be coming out in March 2015

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?























give nature a home
















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 50 crafts and activities to enjoy once you’re back home in the warm.

Changing Seasons on the Farm – contributed by Sheila Dent

forest childcare seasons 2

“Their 'moos' echoed loudly against the sides of the barn and we could still hear them for a long while as we continued along the lane."    

Over the months on our regular walks in the local countryside my charges and I have noticed the cows grazing in the fields. Next came the addition of tiny calves which was very exciting.

On our visit this week we noticed that the cows had all disappeared. We continued until we reached the farm. The footpath passes a large barn and there, sticking their heads through the metal bars were the cows, feeding on the silage. Their 'moos' echoed loudly against the sides of the barn and we could still hear them for a long while as we continued along the lane.

This is one of the ways we notice and enjoy the changing seasons while out and about in our village.

“Here's to winter and flasks of tea and hot chocolate” – contributed by Melinda Chantler

We're still enjoying our forest outings, rain and shine, and hopefully soon there will be snow. Apparently one of the forests we visit has chanterelles growing, something to look forward to. We seem to have a lot of trolls around here too, under bridges, (lots of trip trapping over them) and in trees, even out in the open turned to stone! Along with the fairies of course.

It is nice to know there are others doing the same, even though you're miles away.

Here's to winter and flasks of tea and hot chocolate.

RSPB Give Nature A Home Guide

Request your Give nature a home guide packed full of simple, fun activities to help wildlife where you live. It’s free and available for download or free postal delivery.

Puddle Wading - contributed by Jill Parker

puddle wading forest childcare

“They had to find the biggest puddle in the fields and we all waded in.”  

We regularly (daily, sometimes twice) go off to the local park.  We go climbing/wandering amongst all the trees, across the trip trap bridge, look in the pond to see what is growing and we have recently found out that the Gruffalo might live in our park.  The children found a BIG metal door which then became the Gruffalo's front door and every time we go past they just have to knock it but ALWAYS run away. 

A few weeks ago myself and the children enjoyed 'puddle' wading.  They had to find the biggest puddle in the fields in the park and we all wadded in.  I did ensure that the parents sent old clothes for this but didn't actually tell them what we were doing, I thought I'd leave that to the children and photo diary. The parents and OFSTED (inspection last week) were VERY impressed.

Learning Outdoors in the Early Years

Free downloadable E-book first published in 2005 – 150 pages.




Get 50 EYFS Art Projects with guided observations like these.



EYFS Art Projects

Here are two very simple craft projects intended to do with children aged 2 ½ to 5. As well as templates there are guided EYFS Observations for each project so that you can observe the children’s learning and development while you do the art projects with them.

Download the free templates for  

Valentines Day Card Road safety

Valentines Day Card with guided understanding language observations

Road Safety Craft – with guided Understanding The World observations












Kay Woods/ Kids To Go on Social Media

If you enjoy reading these newsletters you may want to follow my Childminding Best Practice blog and like me on Facebook?

Please “follow” my new Childminding Best Practice Blog

Please “follow” my new Childminding Best Practice Blog

If you like my newsletters you may want to also sign up for my new Childminding Best Practice blog. Please follow the link and click on the ‘follow’ button.

When I launched the blog on Facebook I had two childminders tell me quite honestly that that they have never followed a blog before and didn’t really understand what it means. Basically a blog is just an article that is sent to you by email. To follow it you don’t have to have any kind of account. All you do is to enter your email address just like signing up for a normal E-newsletter.

I have also created a really useful reference page on my blog that you may want to bookmark called Official Document Links’ on which I have included links to lots of the most useful official documents by various organisations including the EYFS Statutory Framework, Parents Poster, Food Safety Training, Early Years Outcomes etc. If you follow my blog then I can let you know when I update this useful reference page.

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Diversity logo






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















chinese new year






Diversity best practice ideas

 Celebrating a few multicultural holidays with the children in your care is by far the easiest and most accessible diversity activity you can do. Why not plan to celebrate some multicultural holidays this year? Which ones you choose are less important than choosing just one or two and exploring them a little in context. In other words, making one random Chinese New Year lantern is not as meaningful as spending a week learning about China. Ideally, choose some with relevance to the children in your setting.

Celebrate Chinese New Year on Thursday, February 19

Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays. The colour for Chinese New Year is red so a simple way to celebrate Chinese New Year with the children is to focus on the colour red. 2015 is Year of the Sheep in the Chinese zodiac.

Chinese New Year Handprint Dragon – contributed by Jacqui Waterman

chinese new year

Here is what we did for Chinese New Year. We made this display of a Chinese dragon that was made up out of all of the children's hand prints. The dragon was spread over 6 large windows and each of the windows was for the day of the week and that contained all of the hand prints that we had made with the children that were in our care. It was complete with Chinese lanterns and a large title at eye level for the older children to read and the younger to look at and trace the letters with their fingers. The picture only shows the first 4 windows as we couldn't fit the whole thing into the camera frame!

We extended this activity over two weeks. In the second week we studied the Chinese dragon's dance, by showing the children videos of the dancing dragon on the Ipad we then got them to make hand held dragons of their own to dance with to the music. They loved all of the dancing and movements that we learnt by watching the video clips. It was a brilliant way to incorporate music and movement along with a little bit of technology.

Kids: Making it Personal

Information for childminders working with disabled children and their families including the personalisation of personal budgets.

Downloadable 2015 Diversity Planning Calendar

Diversity Planner

Use this free downloadable calendar to plan to celebrate diversity with the children in 2015. The calendar includes the dates of some multicultural holidays, religious festivals for Britain’s three biggest religions (Christianity, Islam and Hinduism) and other big events with a diversity focus.

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










road safety jacket

High visibility reflective jackets are a great idea especially in the dark Winter months. Not only do they help cars to see the child, they help you to spot childminded children in a crowd of school uniforms.



“Feel free to park your vehicle on the path but I guarantee I will get my double buggy past somehow!” – Sarah Millard.


Road Safety

Download this road safety craft idea here.















































CPR in Schools

My niece – still here because my sister knew how to do CPR. Please sign this petition to get CPR taught in schools.

Inspirational best practice - ideas, stories and links

Road Safety Tips

Extreme Road Safety 1

When I was doing my childminding training course I remember one day imagining what it would be like to be a school run childminder. In my head it looked rather like this picture: all of the children securely roped together in a big long chain, ideally with large flashing lights on their heads so cars could spot them easily. How else would I possibly keep them alive all the way home?

Of course somehow childminders across the country manage to get far more children than this safely to their homes every day without ropes or traffic cones of any sort!  I asked you to send in your road safety tips – thanks to everyone who responded especially Fiona Crisp and Kate Fuller. Here is what you said:

✔ We walk in twos directly behind each other (younger ones holding hands). The most sensible pair are either the last pair or I get them to be the leaders. Challenging children hold my hands or, if I'm pushing a buggy, are the first 'two' behind me. 

✔ When I cross a road I see the children across like a lollipop lady, with me between the children and stopped cars.

✔ I always pair them up with the oldest and younger walkers holding hands together. The very youngest sit in the pushchair or hold my hand.

✔ When we get out of the car, or are waiting to get into it, or I need them to stand still for a moment by the side of the road, I’ve taught them to “hold the wall” or fence, or the side of my car, if nothing else is available. If they’re touching the wall, they’re not running about.

✔ Always, always draw attention to the child who is walking well and praise them. I can still remember the teacher who commented on how nicely I was walking across the playground when I was 6 years old. I made sure I always walked nicely across the playground after that :) Positive praise is a very strong incentive.

✔ Ignore anyone who makes negative comments about reins. They are quite literally a lifesaver. Use them if you have an unpredictable child or a bolter.

✔ Children under 8 have difficulty in judging the speed a car is travelling. Don’t let them cross the road unsupervised.

✔ You should always carry toys. Don’t let children carry them. The roadside is not the place for playing and children may chase dropped toys (especially balls) out into the road without thinking.

✔ I use a 'stopping places' method – corners of roads, sign posts or trees. This way if children are running ahead I know they will be stopping at certain places. This is practiced with little ones (at quiet times not on the actual school run!!). Anyone who can't 'stop' has to walk next to me until they can. We also practice stopping immediately if I shout 'Stop'.

Stop, Look and Listen game - contributed by Della Hill from Delnkids Childcare

I felt this link may be a little graphic, so please watch it yourself before showing the children but you may feel it is appropriate. It certainly gets the point across. Thanks, Della, for sending it in.

Hold a ‘Beep Beep Day’

Beeb Beeb Day

Promote and teach road safety to the childminded children by holding a Beep Beep Day. You can register for a free pack and there are also online guides to teaching road safety and campaigning for safer roads locally to help you take action on road safety on any day of the year.

Tidy Shoes – contributed by Claire Toms

Claire Toms

I decided to make these to stop shoes from being scattered all around the hall. I made them from chalkboard fablon from Homebase.

I think I might need one extra set for my husband’s shoes!

Taking a Parent to Court – contributed by Frances Lindley

I was looking after the youngest of a family of four children five afternoons a week 12pm to 3pm.  The child was on funding for the fifteen hours.  

Everything went well for the first six weeks. Then I completed my local authority’s audit forms for the funded children, and this threw up the fact that this child was already in receipt of funding from a nursery more local to the family.  Through my registers and contracts, I had to prove that the child had been with me and that the child’s parents had been claiming the 15 hours free funding from two different settings! So, to cut a long story short, I was not paid for the funded place that this child had been using for the six weeks.

The parent was sent letters and bills from me and the council detailing what had happened and that they now owed money for the weeks that the child had been with me.  By now the child had left, with no letter of resignation. I sent all correspondence with the parent by registered post.
The parent had fourteen days to pay the bill.  Another letter was sent after fourteen days to then say that if they had not paid within seven days a claim would be made through the small claims court to recoup money.
No money was paid, but a letter came back from the parent giving a sob story. However, this did not sway me at all!
I found all the relevant forms and guidance that I would need, downloadable from the county court web site.

I had to send in all the original paperwork, so I made sure to keep copies of everything. I had to work out all costs involved, for example, fees, postage, interest, fuel and parking.  
I must admit I was very apprehensive about the actual court appearance. In the end it was not a court with a judge and jury sitting there. I was able to take another person in with me. We were ushered into a room which had a large table and chairs. The judge was a lovely lady.  The parent did not turn up.  The judge just went through all the paperwork, she had looked at it previously, asked if I had anything else to add and then said that I was entitled to the money, £800 by now, so well worth the effort!
The court wrote to the family and explained how and when to pay.  Suffice to say they paid the bill in the appointed time.  The family then automatically get a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against them. 

Since then I have actually repeated the court process twice more for far less amounts and won all of my cases.  One very happy childminder!

Help get CPR taught in our schools

My sister saved her baby daughter’s life because she’d had first aid training and knew how to do CPR so when I saw this petition I signed it straight away. Not strictly childminding I know, but please sign this petition to get CPR taught in schools.

My Week Sheet With Weekends – contributed by Katie Fountain

I really like this ‘My Week’ sheet sent in by Katie Fountain which includes space for parents to fill in what their child did at the weekends. This is a really simple and nice way to promote communication with parents. Katie is happy for you to download it and to use it for your own business. 

Promoting Good Dental Hygiene – contributed by Nicky Nicholls

Nicky Nicholls Healthy Teeth Contribution

I wanted to find a child-friendly way of promoting good dental hygiene so I bought these puppets and the toothbrushes so that the children could practice cleaning some very big teeth. I linked the activity to a story about going to the dentist.

Helping you to stay on top of the paperwok




















ofsted inspections



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

EYFS Paperwork, Policy and Legislation News–focus on December 2014 changes to Food Safety Legislation

Official Document Links Page

 I have just created a really useful reference page on my blog that you may want to bookmark called Official Document Links’ on which I have included links to the most useful official documents that childminders need including the Statutory Framework, Parents Poster, Food Safety Training, Early Years Outcomes etc. You can check that you are using the most up to date version of the documents and follow the link through to anything you need. If you follow my blog then I can let you know when I update anything.

Food Allergens – changes to Food Safety Legislation from Dec 2014

From December 2014 new rules will be introduced requiring all food businesses including childminders to provide allergy information on the foods they provide to the children. The Food Standards Agency has produced guidance on the 14 allergens that must be declared in any food that you prepare. It is very important that you become familiar with the allergens listed here.

To comply with legislation you should always ask parents if their children have any known allergies. If any of the children you look after have an allergy then you should speak to the parents about it and plan for how you will ensure at your setting that the child does not come into contact with the food that could harm them. One way to do this could be to make a list of all of the food you prepare that contains the allergen to prevent that child from coming into contact with it.

The Food Standard Agency has lots of information about food allergies and there is even an optional online training course that you can take if you would like to learn more.


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

With the news that St Bede Academy in Bolton is the first childminder agency to become registered with Ofsted since the legislation in September, Cathy Magicminding Smith explains why she does not see them as a major threat.

Childminder agencies seem to have been scaring everyone for quite some time, but strong networks have been around for ages doing lots of what they are supposed to do. I am thinking that actually childminder agencies might need to be scared of strong networks doing stuff like ours!

Childminding is a wonderful and rewarding job which I have done for nine years now. However I didn’t always feel that way. I remember week two hating the job with a passion, feeling lonely, frightened and scared. So what changed that you ask?

My local childminder network weekly meet ups on a Friday! It was somewhere to go and chat with others in the profession, gave the children a chance to make friends and do activities and made me realise all the problems I was having with parents or children was normal - others had been there and had the proverbial T shirt!

As EYFS came into force (the original one) we strengthened as a group and all helped each other to understand it in real terms. I loved picking it apart and making it real for my business, and helping others to do the same.

It was a sad day when we lost our hall and the lady that ran the group decided to retire. We were offered an alternative venue by a local children’s centre and before I knew it every Thursday we were running support and best practice sessions based around the EYFS. The buzz from the childminders was great, and helping other minders to reflect on and improve their practice, especially when after attending a local authority training course everyone came back and said mine was better!

The group has changed venue many times, but the sessions get better and better and my favourite sessions are always those where the minders share best practice. Everyone brings one thing they love that they have done recently and we all get to use each others amazing ideas in our own unique ways. A popular choice is an idea from a blog I read using a diary to record everything in daily rather than lots of bits of paper, and setting up secret facebook groups for families to update general info to save time writing lots and lots of diaries! We have our own local Facebook group where we also share calls from parents to help each other fill vacancies, and ask for support on planning and problems. This is real minders on the job with lots of knowledge and on the job experience. I have my BA and EYPS and others are following in my footsteps but headed towards EYT.

I fail to understand how any childminding agency that might start locally to us could possibly offer this level of support, advice and vacancy filling. The only benefit it can possibly offer is possibly not having to deal directly with Ofsted - but I’d like to think that the sixty something childminders in our group feel that we all support each other through this too.

I’m sure we are not the only network that operate in this way? If you are part of one too - treasure it and feel strong. Don’t let the negative nellys and the Wally Wilshaw out there destroy your confidence. The majority of minders do an amazing job. The children in their care are well supported in individual ways to ensure their best developmental chances can be realised. Agencies as they are at the moment in my opinion are not a major threat!

Length between inspections – are we being inspected often enough?

I feel quite strongly that childminders should be inspected regularly to guarantee quality and I am concerned that the gap between inspections is often far too long.

Before 2008 childminders were inspected by social services and these inspections were shorter yearly visits by a social worker. Helen Fitchet writes, “I was first registered under social services and had yearly inspections with the same social worker so you got to know them and they got to know you as well. On average inspections lasted about 1 1/2 hours and were nowhere near as intense as an Ofsted inspection but personally I felt that as a childminder you got more out of it because of the relationship that was built up over time. Yes they weren't graded but there were always action points to achieve by next inspection and these were followed through. “

My last inspection was Dec 2009 so I am now at 5 years since my last inspection. For all Ofsted knows, I may have deteriorated considerably since they last visited!

According to Ofsted “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 according to Ofsted I am not overdue in any way, and can expect my next inspection before July 2016. 

I decided to use Facebook to conduct a straw poll of childminders across the country to see if Ofsted are in fact inspecting all childminders within this time period. This was what I found:

  • Childminders reporting 6 years since their last inspection are very common right across the country. The earliest date since last inspection was January 2008 (Nottinghamshire).
  • No one has been left longer than 7 years between inspections.
  • There is no one area of the country with longer than average gaps between inspections although childminders who have moved house between inspections reported longer inspection cycles.
  • There appears to be no correlation between inspection grade and the gap Ofsted appears to feel is ok to leave between inspections.

Many childminders reported that in their area they are all inspected at considerably tighter intervals. I wonder how this is decided?

I had always thought that coming up on 5 years to my inspection that I was somehow being left for longer because I was outstanding. This is clearly not the case as many of the people reporting 5 or 6 years since their last inspection were satisfactory.

I know that nobody likes being inspected, but maybe it is because they are so infrequent there is so much pressure on them? Whatever Ofsted feel about inspection cycles I feel that for many reasons that this gap is really not good enough to guarantee consistent quality.



Free Product Updates

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

50 EYFS Art Projects CD is now an E-Book

If you have bought my EYFS Art Projects CD in the past 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 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 50 EYFS Art Project CD emailed to you as a single Word document, 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