Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Issue 9: Winter 2015

childminding best practice newsletter dec 2015 issue

Welcome to the Winter 2015 Childminding Best Practice Newsletter. I produce this newsletter four times a year to promote childminding best practice topics with a focus on safety, health, diversity awareness and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). I also use it to highlight any changes to legislation or policy that may affect your childminding business.

Download this newsletter as a pdf

In this issue:

first aid pop quiz - burns - small childminding myth or fact izzy and olly

First Aid Pop Quiz: what is the first thing you should do in this burns situation?

Do you know your childminding myths from facts when it comes to the online SEF form? 

Teaching children to dial 999 in an emergency could literally save your life. Learn how here. 

The next issue (Spring) will be coming out in March 2016

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 Association news


Members of the Forest Childcare Association sign up to the five principles of Forest Childcare. The most important is to commit to taking the children on an outdoor outing to a ‘wild’ place once a week. It’s a wonderful opportunity to do something worthwhile and fun with your time with the children.


Gruffalo Walks – contributed by Chris Harle 

Forest Childcare Gruffalo walks

‘Oh help! Oh no. It’s a Gruffalo’

The overall best Forest Childcare days have been spend in Hamsterly forest and children constantly ask to return to the forest where there is a Gruffalo child trail celebrating 15 years. Children have enjoyed retelling the story of the Gruffalo’s Child as we go round the trail, along with playing Pooh Sticks and of course jumping in puddles, with activities along trail. There are 15 Gruffalo sculptures in different poses in Gruffalo trails all over the country. Here is the website for anyone wanting to check out Gruffalo trails near you.

Three childminders who use Forest Childcare to make their directory listings stand out online

It can be really hard to make your listing stand out from all the other childminders on online childminding directories. One way is to offer something unique, some service that will catch parents’ eyes as they scan through the list: Forest Childcare. Parents love the idea of Forest Childcare because it captures for them an ideal of what childhood should be for their little ones. Check out how these three childminders use Forest Childcare (or the logo) to promote their setting and to help make their entry stand out: Sharon Rousell from Bucks, Linda Ellis from Rochdale and Kirsty Marriott from Reading.


Nature Play Nanny - blog

I quite enjoy this gentle blog by Chelsea Bahe. She works as a nanny and spends a lot of time outdoors with the children, promoting child-led play.


Winter trips to National Trust properties – contributed by Vanessa Jackson


Saltram House Forest Childcare in the winter

I have been childminding for 9 years and have always taken my children out every day to parks, the beach, the countryside and the moors. I grew up on a farm and we were always outside. I know how much I get from going out every day. I also live next to a local park that has a cycle path that takes us safely around the city and down to a local National Trust house. I am a National Trust member and the children and I are always in the gardens. They do den building. Our holidays always include a bike ride to Saltram House to play. I do think that I uphold your five principals. I love the Forest Childcare Association Pack.


Art Projects for Valentine’s Day and Funny Photo Competition with £25 prize 


For those of you who like planning ahead, here are two lovely, simple craft ideas for Valentine’s Day.  Try Chloe’s paper heart “Made with Love” heart bags with homemade chocolate chip heart cookies. Or Louise’s “Bee Mine” bees.  

Please note that all of the projects I choose for these newsletters MUST be art projects that 2½ to 5 year old children can make (mostly) by themselves. Yes, you may need to help them cut the shapes out and place the pieces but if you have to essentially do the project FOR the child or if the child can ‘mess the project up’ in any way then it is not what I am looking for in this newsletter.  Please send your contributions anytime for any point in the year and I will save them up for future issues. 

chloe hassall paper valentines baskets
louise field - valentines bees
Contributed by Chloe Hassall Contributed by Louise Field

1001 ways to fail your Ofsted inspection Photo Competition

how to fail your ofsted inspection

Number 214: Demonstrate your snack time procedure

*Please send your own funny photos of ways to fail your Ofsted inspection to If you include photos of children who aren’t yours please make sure you have asked permission from the parents for me to put them into the newsletter. I can also blur out faces as I’ve done here if you want me to. If I use your photo you’ll get a £25 voucher to spend on my products.




Kay Woods - Kids To Go on Social Media

How NOT to be a victim of a bad Ofsted Inspection: 10 ways to take control  

One of the saddest types of emails I get are from childminders who feel they were the ‘victims’ of a bad Ofsted inspection. “It wasn’t fair that she didn’t…” people will say. Or “she just didn’t understand that…” Horrible, unfair Ofsted inspections (like bad job interviews) do happen and when they do are you are well within your right to make a complaint. But don’t set yourself up to be a victim. With a bit of planning you can “manage” your Ofsted inspector and take control of your inspection so it goes the way you want it to.

Tip 1: Modesty has no place on your Self-Evaluation Form

If you want the Ofsted inspector to think your setting is outstanding then don’t rate any sections of your practice ‘good’ or ‘requires improvement’ and hope that she will ‘read between the lines’ or realise that you want outstanding really but are being modest…. [read more and sign up for my blog here]

Like me on Facebook and enter my prize draw!

Please like me on Facebook. When I reach 1000 likes three lucky childminders will be selected to win vouchers for my products. When you like my Facebook page you are helping me with my small business and I really appreciate it. Thanks for taking the time!

Bee Safe Bee Healthy

Get art projects, colouring pages and activities for 15 safety and health topics for childminders with a Be Safe Be Healthy Pack.





















































first aid pop quiz - burns - small


Safety and Health

First Aid Pop Quiz

You see it happen in slow motion. She reaches for the pen and knocks your cup of tea all over her arm.  What is the FIRST thing you should do?

first aid pop quiz - burns

CLICK HERE or scroll down to reveal the answer.

Teach small children The Underwear Rule to keep them safe from sexual abuse

Help keep children safe from sexual abuse by teaching them The Underwear Rule. Without using scary words or even mentioning sex this is a great page from the NSPCC. There is a great video and lots of wonderful tips for talking with children and helping to keep them safe.



Under-fives who are walking should be physically active for at least three hours per day – about 25% of waking time

The study from the British Heart Foundation has found that physically active children are happier and more confident. The study can be read on the Infant and Toddler Forum which has a free newsletter you can sign up for here.



Teaching children to call 999 for an ambulance could literally save your life

Author Jo Keeling’s daughter, Isabelle, known as Izzy, was two when she managed to call an ambulance for her mother following a severe allergic reaction, otherwise known as anaphylactic shock. In the days that followed, Isabelle’s story reached the national newspapers as well as the national and local news. She wrote this Izzy and Ollie story to help to teach other pre-school age children what to do in an emergency and I recommend buying a copy for your childminding setting if you intend to teach the children you look after to dial 999.

izzy and olly

Jo writes, “I wholeheartedly believe that children are so capable. I have received many emails from parents saying that their child had learnt to call 999 after the parent had read info from our website, or read the book and had put it into practice helping that parent in an emergency.  It does work!  Children are amazing.  It must be a terrifying experience for a child to watch a parent suffer or be unconscious and not know what to do.  At least if they have had previous instruction they won’t panic as much and can try and do something to help.”  

Some practical information about how to teach children to dial 999 is located on the Izzy and Ollie website.  

Since reading Izzy and Olly, which is about expecting big things of little people, I have always taught the children I look after to call 999. I keep the numbers written by the telephone and teach the children how to dial (but without actually pressing the green ‘dial’ button). From about age three or four many children may be perfectly capable of doing this in an emergency.  

As childminders, we work alone. This is a great investment of your time – it could literally save your life!


First Aid Pop Quiz - Answer

The child has burned her arm on the hot tea.   

The first thing you should do is to check for danger to yourself. Then cool the burn by running her arm under cold water for at least ten minutes. 

first aid pop quiz ans - burns


Once you have cooled the burn you need to dress the burn with a sterile dressing that won’t stick. Good practice is to use cling film to cover burns, being careful not to place the cling film tightly around the limb as the limb may swell and this would cause constriction.   

 If the burn is very bad you may need to dial 999 and treat the victim for shock. Read the St. John’s Ambulance website to remind yourself how to do all this.
















Story Time
















childminding myth or fact











Model answers for the Ofsted SEF are only £10

Inspirational best practice - ideas, stories and links

Four mistakes to avoid when planning for 2016

 There are lots of things to think about when you write your childminding plans for 2016. Here are four common mistakes that many childminders make when writing plans. Check that you aren’t making any of the following mistakes:  

Mistake 1. Creating overcomplicated planning systems
Remember that whatever system you are using for your planning needs to be usable by you every single week. The more complicated you make it, then less likely you will be to use your own system. If the system you are using is currently too complicated for you to maintain, then it may be time to try a new system.

 Mistake 2. Creating planning documents that can’t be easily changed
Your planning system has to flexible; it cannot be a series of documents set in stone. It has to be easy to make changes to and it has to be adaptable. If your system does not allow for change, then you have not got an effective planning system in place at your setting.  

Mistake 3. Planning for your setting but not for each individual child
If the system you use works for your setting, but does not take into account the needs of different children in your setting, then your system needs a rethink. A planning system must work for your whole setting AND take into account the needs and interests of each individual child.  

Mistake 4. Not linking your observations to your planning
All of the ‘next steps’ you record in your learning journeys MUST link into whatever planning system you are using. Writing observations and next steps into your learning journeys is pointless if you don’t have a method to put those ideas into your planning.  

If the planning system you are currently using is too complicated, or makes any of the mistakes described here, you may want to simplify your planning in 2016 by looking at my Learning Journey Plus workbook which takes you step by step through creating a workable, flexible and ongoing planning system for your setting.


Look after Twins?

This site is primarily aimed at parents, but if you look after twins you may find the resources on Tamba useful.


Magical storytelling from Ladybird and Toddler Fun Learning!

I thought this brand new storytelling series for young children looked quite good. It might be worth subscribing to through YouTube to watch with the children when you want to try something different at story time?



 Downloadable 2016 Diversity Planning Calendar

diversity planning calendar 2016

Use this free downloadable calendar to plan to celebrate diversity with the children in 2016. 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. Write them on this calendar so you remember to celebrate them.


Fact or Myth? You have to complete the Ofsted Self-Evaluation Form before your inspection

 A few months back, primarily to make people smile, I posed the following question onto Facebook:

Honest answers please: which best describes how often you REALLY update your online SEF???

 a.         Weekly – at the same time I sanitise all my baby toys and check my fridge/freezer thermometers

b.         Once a year – it helps me to plan, feel prepared and stay organised - like the spare stamps I always carry in my wallet

c.         Every 3-5 years

d.         The week before Ofsted comes

There were many over-achieving ‘B’s, most people answered ‘C’ and lots of very honest people who replied ‘D’. But what surprised me the most were the number of people who replied that they had NEVER completed the Ofsted Self-Evaluation Form and had no intention of ever doing so. Were these people taking an enormous risk by breaking an Ofsted rule?  No. Because it is a MYTH that you HAVE to complete the Ofsted SEF form. It is not a legal requirement.

So, if it’s not a requirement, why do so many people complete the Ofsted SEF form then?

Your Ofsted inspector looks at your answers to your SEF form to get ideas about your setting before she arrives. Your SEF is a chance to make a great impression on a stranger. You can use it to tell her about all the excellent things you are doing at your setting. I do think it would be very hard to get the top Ofsted grades showing only the evidence you can present during the short time of your inspection. The SEF allows you to communicate more information, the things that go on behind the scenes.

The Ofsted SEF form is also like getting a sneak-peak at a test before taking it because your inspector will ask you about the questions that are on it. Taking the time to write out your answers forces you to think about your answers so that when you are asked during your inspection, you have a good idea of how to respond. 

Keep in mind that many people who will swear that they have never completed an Ofsted SEF form, still do their own forms of self-evaluation. Because you are expected to ‘reflect’ on your practice.  Some people keep diaries, or ‘folders of evidence’ with thoughts for self-improvement. Others (with good memories) read the SEF, think about their answers and just don’t bother to write anything down.  All of that is totally fine, but frankly, unless you feel especially strongly about using your own method, you might as well just do the Ofsted one.

For me, I would always do the Ofsted self-evaluation form prior to an inspection because I wouldn’t feel prepared otherwise. However much I hate filling it out, the questions are warm-ups for inspection day. For me, it is invaluable because I have to admit to myself that I don’t have a brilliant memory and I simply couldn’t trust myself to remember everything I wanted to say to my inspector on inspection day if I didn’t have it written down.

Whether you chose to complete an Ofsted SEF form or not, you may want to take a look at these SEF model answers which give you an idea of how to answer the questions, including the new sections added in Sept 2015.


Play Trays

Some great ideas in the little video about the sorts of things you might want to put in your own play trays.

Helping you to stay on top of the paperwork

Ultimate childminding checklist

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

EYFS Paperwork, Policy and Legislation News


Childminders able to operate on non-domestic premises without additional registration from January 2016 

If you have ever thought about childminding as part of an after school club or childminding for up to half your working week from any other location than your home – perhaps running an out of school club in a hall – you will be able to do so without separate registration from January 2016 as part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act.


Childcare Business Grants have been extended   

If you are a new childminder who has registered in the last 12 months, or if you are thinking of starting a childminding business then you may be eligible to apply for a business grant. If you care for disabled children you could get up to £1000. The deadline to apply is 31st December, 2015 so don’t wait!












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