Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 6: March 2015

Childminding Spring Forest Childcare

Welcome to the March 2015 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:

unconscious spinal injury risk  Like-Me-and-Win Allotment risk assessment

First Aid Pop Quiz – what’s the first thing you should do?

Help me get more Facebook likes and you could win!

Growing fruit and vegetables with children? Risk assessment advice.

The next issue (Summer) will be coming out in June 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?












Forest Childcare tree tunnel
Tree tunnel




Forest Childcare Association news

Members of the Forest Childcare Association use weekly outdoor outings as a way to promote their childcare settings and make them stand out from the competition. It’s a great way to impress parents as well as a wonderful commitment to the children you look after.

Forest Childcare by Train – contributed by Vanessa Jackson

childminding cold beach

“I can take four children on my card for £1 return when we go to the beach at Looe or Bodmin." 

We like to take the train from Plymouth to Bodmin and then walk along the river to Landhydrock House, which is National Trust. The children love these days out. I do not drive, so we catch the train a lot. I have a Devon and Cornwall railcard that cost £10 a year. I can take four children on my card for £1 return when we go to the beach at Looe or to Bodmin. These passes are available in most regions. I run a playgroup on a Wednesday morning, so when we go to the beach or bike rides there is usually a large group. We once had 35 of us going to the beach on the train.  

“It is a different experience for the children to see the ducks swimming around you” – contributed Fiona Crisp

I have always done lots of outdoors stuff so signing up to Forest Childcare was just a way of formalising things for me. I have used the certificates, logos, records of outings and will be using some of your wording when I update my polices/procedures/parent handouts etc.

Recently we have been to a nature trail - it has a brilliant double line of huge conifers which you can run down we call it the tree tunnel. I took photos so I can make my own scavenger hunt.

Fishing was a great trip and a bit different. I had three of them striding off down the muddy path holding their fishing nets. Then there's a concrete bit they can sit on and dangle their legs off and dip their nets in the water. The water’s only less than 30cm deep at this point so not too great a risk! We found a newt but no fish this time.

We also went to a big park that as well as a paddling pool and sandpit also has a boating lake. I had my daughters helping (after doing their GCSEs and A levels) so we went out on the boats to see the ducks on the island. It is a different experience for the children to see the ducks swimming around you.

101 Things for Kids to Do Outside by Dawn Issac – recommended by Ann Ross

This book inspires children (and grown-ups) to get away from computer and TV screens and get outdoors! From quick 10-minute activities to full days of fun, the ideas cover all four seasons and include building a human sundial, creating an outdoor collage and setting up a wormery. Book is currently on special offer for £3.99 at The Book People

Building a Forest Childcare Environment in Your Own Back Garden – contributed by Andrea North

We moved house in August and are lucky enough to have a house with our own private woods at the back. I have been doing bits in the garden, planting in tyres, made a toadstool table and chairs out of electric cable reels and have so many ideas to do once the woods are made more accessible.   I’m having a nature kitchen (bit of a take on a mud kitchen) made to go down there, we have a stream with kingfishers and ducks that come to visit (and foxes) so will be making hedgehog houses and bat boxes.

stream in the woods woodland garden 1 swing in the woods

Posters Pack For Childminders
Get lots more display ideas in my printable Poster Pack




Art Projects - focus on making displays

Making a nice display is a great skill. I also think it’s great fun and I’ve always loved coming up with creative ways to display the children’s art work. You don’t have to have a lot of space -  as Dorothy’s example shows, a bulletin board does very nicely. Why not try making a Spring display for your setting? 

Spring Display posters pack animals

Spring Display contributed by Dorothy Williams

Animals We Have Seen and Washing Line Display, based on templates and ideas from the Posters Pack, contributed by Elaine Navis

Stick Insect Craft – contributed by Jacqui Waterman

I love Jacqui’s stick insect mini beast display. What a clever way to display the children’s craft projects and I think you could use a similar “web” idea to display other mini beast crafts if you like that sort of thing. Jacqui writes, “We created the mini beast stick insects with the children. They found the sticks in the forest and we used maths to count to number of eyes, and legs.”

Stick Insects Craft Stick Insects Craft enlarged














Kay Woods/ Kids To Go on Social Media

Want a laugh? Read my “10 Real British Values All Childminders Should Teach to Children” article

Did you know that in order to protect everyone from ‘religious radicals’ it is now one of your many responsibilities as a childminder to teach ‘fundamental British values’ to the children you care for? According to the government, in the early years this will mean ensuring that small children are “learning right from wrong, learning to take turns and share and challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes.”

When I first read that I can’t pretend I wasn’t somewhat disappointed. I mean, is that the best that the government could come up with in terms of what it means to have British values? Therefore I have decided that it’s time someone improved on the government’s list. If we want our children to grow into good British citizens then here are the top ten things we really need to be teaching our pre-schoolers…

british values for childminders 3

1. Learn to talk about the weather

All British people need to be able to hold at least a two minute conversation about the weather… [read the rest of this article and sign up for my Childminding Best Practice blog here].

Like me on Facebook and enter my prize draw!

My new Facebook page needs some more ‘likes’. My goal is to get to 1000 likes which I have been reliably told would be more ‘respectable’! Please help me out – all it takes is one click on the like button at the left. I promise not to clutter your news feeds with rubbish!

As a thank you, when I reach 1000 likes, I will draw three names out of a hat to each win a £30 voucher towards any of my products. 

I’m now a member of NEYTCO

I was very pleased to be accepted as a member of NEYTCO (the new professional quality organisation for Early Years Trainers and Consultants). Members must strive to promote best practice and uphold the Code of Practice which requires minimum standards of professional conduct from its members: honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and competence.

Diversity logo

Make a commitmentto promoting diversity at your setting with a Diversity Awareness Pack



















































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 twelve words often used to describe disabilities. Which of these words do you think are normally considered ok to use and which do you think should be avoided?

disabled people
“the disabled”, “the blind”, “the deaf”
people with disabilities
people with learning difficulties
mental handicap
wheelchair user
confined to a wheelchair

Click here to reveal the answers.

Challenging Gender Stereotypes in Under Fives

From about the age of two or three, children begin to identify themselves as either boys or girls. And almost as soon as they label themselves by their gender, children start to form clear links to the different activities, toys, behaviour, and even adult occupations that are expected. Girls/women play with dolls and can be nurses; boys/men play with cars and can be fire fighters. The beliefs of children in the early years can be much more strongly stereotyped than the beliefs of most adults.
Children’s stereotyped images of boys and girls are shaped by many factors including cultural beliefs, parenting, schooling, and media influences. And despite the social changes over the last 50 years, it is still the case that fathers and mothers often play traditional roles – the vast majority of childminders, for example, are still women. 

As childminders it is our role to try to treat boys and girls as equally as we can and to make sure that they are given equal opportunities to participate in all activities. Children’s attitudes towards gender will mature gradually over time, but challenging stereotypes and especially bullying are important even at the pre-school age.

Try to use gender-neutral labels such as fire fighter or flight attendant.  Choose stories with male and female heroes and villains, and stories that present male and female characters in non-stereotypical roles. The idea is not to systematically force dolls onto boys or fire engines onto girls, but to give them the freedom and choice in play to express and develop their own personality and preferences. The bottom line we want to tell the children is that both boys and girls can accomplish great things.

iversity boy pushing teddy diversity girl playing with a digger

The Diversity Awareness Pack includes unique colouring pages that show girls it is alright to play with diggers and boys that it is ok to play with dolls.

Hold a structured play or activity session to expose boys to ‘pink toys’ and vice versa

One of the most important principles of the EYFS is that we let children learn through play and that they get a chance to choose their own toys. This certainly doesn’t mean that the children should ALWAYS get to choose their own toys. I have looked after plenty of two year old boys who, given the choice, would play with the same cars/trains/airplanes day in day out, mainly because they happen to like playing with cars/trains/airplanes, but also because it has simply never occurred to them to try something different for a change!

The principle of Structured Play Sessions is that for a short stretch of time (20 minutes or so) ALL of the children play with only certain categories of toys. During Structured Play Sessions, you put away all of the other toys and just get out toys from a certain category. For the 20 minute session, everybody, boys and girls, play with ‘transport toys’ or ‘construction toys’ or ‘home corner toys’.

Similarly, you can hold a Structured Play Activity Session during which everybody, boys and girls, joins in with ‘dancing class’, ‘ball games’, ‘dressing up’ etc. The idea is to give children an opportunity to try activities they may otherwise never have considered before for a short length of time. It is especially important for this diversity topic that boys get a chance to play with traditional ‘girls’ toys’ like the home corner, and girls get a chance to try traditional ‘boy activities’ like football.

When the structured activity sessions are over, the children are free to return to whatever free play and toys they enjoy the most – the girls may run straight back to the dolls house and the boys back to the car garage…. or just maybe ‘dance class’ may continue for a little longer?

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:

disabled people
people with disabilities
people with learning difficulties
wheelchair user

These words should be avoided:

Handicapped - offensive because it suggests dependency and incapacity

“the disabled”, “the blind”, “the deaf” - Dehumanises people by grouping them solely by their physical condition

mental handicap - The word ‘mental’ often implies mental illness to people and people with learning difficulties do not have mental health problems as a consequence of their disability.

confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair-bound – These terms convey helplessness and inspire pity.

cripple, Mongol, spastic - These terms are completely unacceptable and you should challenge any child using them.


  • Challenge discrimination in any form; don’t ignore it
  • Encourage questions and answer them directly





















germ free hand drying solution for childminders




















planter for childminding garden

Not everyone is lucky enough to have access to an allotment These may appeal to a wider audience - those with only balconies or patios- blueberries in pots. I spray these with bug killer too!






















unconscious spinal injury risk 1

Inspirational best practice - ideas, stories and links

First Aid Pop Quiz

You hear the fall and find the child unconscious at the bottom of the stairs. What is the FIRST thing you should do?

unconscious spinal injury risk 1

CLICK HERE or scroll down to reveal the answer.

Childminder to Foster Carer - contributed by Mel Pierce

I became a registered Childminder at the end of 2007. Previous to that I worked as a Special Needs Assistant in a school.  I decided to childmind as I wanted to be able to take my daughter who was three at the time to nursery myself and spend more time with her.  I have always worked so my three sons who are older had a childminder. Then along came my daughter and I knew it was time I had to make a career change as I felt as I had missed out on so much on their lives whilst my boys were growing up.

I started off childminding two children when I first became registered and I became a Marvellous Minder as I had the special needs experience.  Then in early 2008 I was asked if I could provide respite care for a child whilst her nursery was under refurbishment.  In the first few days of having the child, something happened within the family and I was asked if I would become a temporary carer whilst they found a foster carer.  My husband and I did the skills to foster training so we became her foster carers for six months.  We were then asked if we would adopt the child.

If I am completely honest the child age two came with lots of problems – she was forever hurting my own daughter who was only three herself and she was aggressive towards my husband, so adoption at this stage wasn’t possible.

To be a Foster Carer is very rewarding (not financially if you foster through the borough but with agencies it can be) and it can make a difference to a child’s life, however it is also very intrusive!  My husband and I have both been married before so both our ex’s were interviewed along with all our children to see if they all thought we would be suitable carers.  You have to be available to attend meetings with social workers and you have to include foster children in your childminding numbers – however it’s “something definitely worth considering doing if you want to make a difference to a child’s life”.

Germ-free Hand Drying Solution - contributed by Pati Hough

I want to share the hand drying solution I came up with for my setting. My bathroom is too small to have a basket with flannels and I can't hang roles on the wall because it's rented property. So I tie a ribbon on the radiator with kitchen towel for the little ones to dry their hands on.

Water Wall – contributed by Samantha Bennett

water wall

“I had seen other water walls which I loved but they were always too big for my garden. So I thought I would try and make my own with simple every day things I found at home."    

The kids love our new water wall and I think I enjoyed making it as much as the kids like playing with it. The frame is just a planter which you can get at any DIY store. We got the wind tubes from my local toy shop the funnels and sieve were what I had in my cupboard. I fastened it all onto the frame with tie wraps.  I like the easiness of the design because we can change where the tubes and things go and also add just by cutting and re doing the tie wraps.

Growing Your Own Fruit and Vegetables … and Using Pesticides - contributed by Dawn Evans

With the arrival of Spring lots of us think about having a go at growing things with the childminded children. The reality of gardening (if you really want to produce an edible final product) is that you may need to consider some kind of pest control measures. As well as being a childminder, Dawn Evans holds a level 3 NEBOSH general certificate in Occupational Health and Safety. She has kindly created a risk assessment sheet for working on allotments which you can download for your own personal use.

Allotment risk assessment Allotment risk assessment 1

Dawn writes, “Growing fruit and veg sounds like fun doesn't it? Yes, it is and anyone can do it. You don't need an allotment or a raised bed, large pots on patios or balconies work too! For the best fruit and veg find out what's in season, so you can sow and harvest all year round. This website is great for ideas of what to grow:
To keep crops bug free and stop slugs and snails eating them, often we will use a pesticide. It’s essential to keep children safe especially when using harmful chemicals and pesticides, like slug and snail pellets. These are potentially very harmful, so protect your children by carrying out a simple risk assessment and add a COSHH safety data sheet.

You may not be familiar with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 safety sheets, so if you have never looked at one before you will see they are full of all sorts of useful safety information including first aid measures, toxicology information, hazard and personal protection information as well as storage information. Download this slug and snail killer example. These are available for many products you may use as a childminder and can be downloaded free of charge, just Google the product name with COSHH safety data sheet. For more health and safety information go to

Growing Your Own Potatoes

Information and free resources on growing potatoes with young children.

First Aid Pop Quiz - Answer

You check for danger to yourself and the child before rushing over to her. The unconscious child has not responded when you call her name and tap her gently on the shoulder. Because the child has fallen from a height you worry she could also have a spinal injury. 

Your very first priority is to shout for help then check that she is breathing.

Without moving her if possible, the first thing you should do is to look, listen and feel for breathing.

unconscious spinal injury risk 2

If the child is breathing, keep her as still as possible and call 999. If you have to leave the child to make this call or if she vomits then you should put her into the recovery position to keep her airway open first. Keep the head and neck in line with the spine while you turn the child. Get help doing this if you can.

If the child is not breathing, you will need to perform rescue breaths and chest compressions. Follow the video and instructions on the St. John’s Ambulance website to remind yourself how to do this.


Helping you to stay on top of the paperwok





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

EYFS Paperwork, Policy and Legislation News

Coming Sept 2015: Integrated Review At Age Two

From September 2015 the Progress Check At Age Two is likely to change when it will become part of the Integrated Review At Age Two. 'The Integrated Review at Age Two' is designed to bring together the Healthy Child Programme (HCP) health and development review, and the EYFS Progress Check currently used to assess children’s development at 24 to 36 months old and identify opportunities for early intervention. You can read the report of the pilot studies here.  

Childminders will be able to operate on non-domestic premises for up to 50% of the time

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill (SBEE) will permit childminders to operate on non-domestic premises for up to 50% of the time. The aim is to give childminders more flexibility and make it easier for schools and other providers to offer out-of-hours care. The bill will become law very shortly.

Watchsted – for the latest childminding Ofsted reports in your area

If you are due to inspected soon you might like to take a look at the Watchsted website. The Watchsted site maps the last 100 inspections to be published, giving a summary of the grades achieved. You can search by your local authority.

Paid-for Inspections

 Ever thought of paying for an inspection to get a better Ofsted mark? You may soon be able to do so but it won’t come cheap. Ofsted discussed the plans at the National Consultative Forum to introduce paid for inspections, but their likely cost would be £1,300 for childminders and £2,500 for nurseries.

Councils' plans for a childminder agency could pose a 'conflict of interest'

A childminding association has expressed concern over a plan by two local authorities to set-up a childminder agency while providing support to independent childminders. This article from Nursery World is worth a read for anyone worried about agencies.



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© Kay Woods – Kids To Go 2013
07866 754144

Kids To Go
28 Phipps Road
Burnham, BERKS