Is your head spinning looking for a childminder? You are not alone! I am going through this dilemma as i reluctantly plan to go back to work and hopefully excel at my job again. Being on maternity leave for a year does obviously change the skillset (hopefully for the better!) but would things change drastically? Will I remember or pick things up quickly? Can I handle working? To accompany the fear of returning to work, I am also faced with the worries about being a working mummy. I am being presented with utter guilt of leaving Joshua in someone else’s’ care. I actually want to be there with him, to see all those amazing milestones that he will achieve. Experiencing his firsts for activities will be shared with a stranger or family member but not I! So to add to the mix – I wanted to find the best environment for Joshua. A home that he would develop and learn in, with enough space that he can cruise around and have fun, along with insurance of his safety. With an array of questions, examining the childminders personality and capability becomes part of the quest to find the most suitable childminder.
I’ve got to say – I’m no expert but i have seen my fair share of childminders already. And I have to be honest – there are some shocking childminders out there! How they get away with it – and charge – ludicrous! Martin, Joshua and I had met various childminders – to the point I was getting so fed up! How can one, not watch your potential client, in this instance Joshua and not notice he was playing with a sharp fork which was in the toy box which was put down infront of him? No apology or haste to get it away from him. How about a tiny room filled with 9 children! Or taking on friends children randomly without any planning? What about loads of toys of different ages being mixed? Would you like the childminder aggressively dumping your child on a sofa? Or saying no I don’t take the children out (even though there is no garden)? You may think I’m picky but I want a home away from home style carer, whereby values, exploring, and caring are met. I understand it can be a bad day (we all have them), and I totally get that not 100% attention will be there as it needs to be shared amongst all the children. However I want the best for my child, especially when I am paying for it – childcare is not cheap!
So when you see the childminder and her home, treat it like an interview. Just as much as you are interrogating her, she will query about your child and you. One of my childminder friends mentioned that it’s just as important to get on with the parents and for the child to fit in with the other children. Well said! I’m so happy with the one I found!
I’ve put together a quick list of a few questions to help you understand the childminders skills, along with helping you decide if they are suitable to your needs. I hope it helps!
How to get there ?
Consider the travel journey of how easy it is to get there and to work. Would you need to leave the car or pram in the vicinity? Location is such a big part, especially if you have got to be at work at peak times and come back at peak times.
Is the price reasonable compared to others? Most childminders include meals and snacks. Some even include trips.? Are there any caveats – ie lateness, upfront costs, sickness costs?
What is the environment like?
Does it look clean to you? Is it safe for your child? Is there a decent amount of space for the total number of children on the day?
Attitude of childminder
How comfortable are you with her? How is she towards your child? How does your child react with her? Is she nice? Is she pushy? Is she stern? Is she strict
What is their availability?
Can she do the days that you require? How flexible in times is she? Is she going away/on holiday? Does she work during holiday seasons?
How do you provide insurance of safety?
Look around the place !
Is she Ofsted registered? Are they doing any courses? What is the training they have done? Its great to know they are putting effort and learning new skills to look after your child. Where is their experience?
What activities do you provide?
Is there plenty of good quality toys, equipment and resources?
How do you discipline?
Are their policies and rules? Is positive methods used?
How do you support learning & development?
What type of interactions is used? Praise, encouragement and laughter? Are themes used? Are the activities engaging and able to develop the child? Is the Early Years Foundation Stage met?
Do you have a routine/follow a child’s routine?
Is the days planned and structured? Do you know where your child will be and what they will be doing?
How many children do you look after?
Childminders can care for 6 children under 8 years old, along with only 1 under 1 year old. Check on the days you would like how many they would look after and if you were happy with the age range.
Do my child and I feel comfortable?
Its so vital that both will get on!?
How do you keep me informed?
When dropping and picking up your child, sometimes these are rushed moments and there isn’t always time for a catchup. How else can the childminder update you? And in turn how can you update them? Notebooks? Emails? Childcare app on phone?
Whats the process and what happens when either the childminder, your baby or other babies are sick on holiday?
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