Once you are registered it is a good idea to find out if there is a Childminding Group in your area. Here you will be able to meet with other Childminders who will be happy to share their experiences and also pass on any enquiries for childcare that they cannot take on themselves.
If you need some business cards Vista Print offer free business cards and other useful items to promote your business.
Advertise your vacancies in local shops, post offices, doctor's surgeries and clinics. Make sure your advert stands out and has your contact details - it's amazing the number of adverts that forget such a crucial thing as a phone number!
Childcare.co.uk a great way to be found by parents, they are the UK's largest childcare search site and offer a free to register service designed to help match parents with local childcare providers. If you have any questions come along to the Forum where they will be answered by forum members or by a member of the Childcare.co.uk team.
Is there a business park or offices near you? Try making a small flyer advertising your business and ask if you can leave them in their front office. Many businesses are happy to do this.
Ask at your local school if you can advertise on their notice board. Many school are now keen to get childminders involved as part of the governments wrap around care initiative.
I've been told I need to register as a food business, is that true? Since January 2006 there has been a requirement for childminders to register as a food business. All you need to do is contact your local environmental health department for more information. They came to visit me after I had applied to register as a food business and it is nothing to worry about at all. The inspector was very nice and was keen to give help and advice.
From October 2009 you can obtain a pack called "Safer Food Better Business for Childminders" a food safety management pack it helps you understand about food preparation and safe handling of food. . Find out how to get one here Food Standards Agency
There is an online course here: Food Hygiene, it is a self-study training course fulfilling the syllabus of the Level 2 Award in Food Safety (formerly known as Foundation or Basic Food Hygiene at Level 1).
These courses have been done and reviewed by forum member Pauline: I fully expected this to be quite hard and had intended to do it over two days. But once I had started I decided to continue while it was all fresh in my mind. You go through various training sections which cover things from types and causes of contamination, safe storage, cleaning and disinfection, temperature control, hazard analysis.
It took me two hours of gentle studying and there are small multiple choice tests along the way to help you see if you have taken it in
You must complete all the training before you can continue to the test. You can save it and go back as often as you like, spread it over several days if you wish, you can even go back over the training if you want.
At the end there is a 30 question multiply choice test which you can take up to 2 hours over (it took me about 15 minutes) you need to gain a mark of 75% correct to pass, if you don't get 75 then you can go back into the training and take the test again at a later time until you pass. Most are just common sense.
When you have passed the test the certificate will be posted to you within 10 days, mine arrived in two days.
Really enjoyed doing it, learnt some interesting things and the best thing for me was that I didn't have to give up a day of my weekend or evening to do it. I simply fitted it into my day to suit myself.
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What other courses should I do? There are many courses available, such as Early Years Foundation Stage, play, preparing for Ofsted etc. and your local CIS will be able to advise you of any local to you. There are also other on-line courses available. Pauline has done the Foundation - Awareness of Child Abuse and Neglect. This is her experience of doing the course:
They say it takes on average around 2 hours but I spent about 3 hours spread over two days. You can take longer if you wish, it's entirely at your own pace and you can save it and return at the same point later. I found it easy to follow and the instructions were clear. The information is presented in different ways - you listen, read and take small tests along the way.
You can go back through the training at any point if you feel you want to refresh your memory.
At the end of the training and once you are confident to take it, there is a test, mainly multiple choice.
You need 75% to pass, if you fail you can go back to the training and continue until you feel happy to try again. When you pass you are then directed to a print page where you can print off a certificate.
As well as the Foundation there is now 'Safeguarding Children Awareness of Child Abuse and Neglect CORE'
Introduction to Safeguarding Children is another course that might interest you
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What equipment will I need? It really depends on what age of children you will be caring for but if you plan to care for all ages you will need a variety of equipment, however not all is required, it depends on how you can protect the children and prove to Ofsted whether you need a fireguard or stairgate etc. but for the sake of a list here goes: stairgates, buggy or pushchair, fireguard, car seats, booster seats, changing mat, high chair, child size knives, forks, spoons, cups, beakers etc. Maybe a Buggy Board if you have a toddler and baby or double/triple pushchair. These things can be gathered over time and you don't need to go out and buy them straight away!
What sort of food should I serve the children? This will depend on whether the children have any dietary or cultural needs, you should discuss this with the parents during your initial meetings. I am currently building a database of tried and tested recipes. If you have any recipes you would like to add please let me know. Current recipes can be found using the link to the Recipes Page on the left or go direct by clicking here Recipes page.
What sort of things should I do with the children? Do whatever you would with your own children. Have a large selection of general toys, outdoor equipment, crafts items and games etc. Visit the shops, parks, toddler groups, childminding group, zoo etc.
Sarah, a member and moderator of my Childminding Forum, has produced a booklet of multicultural activities for pre-schoolers. She sells this booklet through her website. It is an excellent resource with 5 chapters covering:
She also produces booklets on EYFS, Planning and Observation. Themes are also her speciality and she will be producing a pack based on specific themes soon - for more information and to contact Sarah - click here
I don't understand what the Early Years Foundation Stage is. From 1st September 2008 all childcare providers and reception class teachers in England must work to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
The Statutory Framework for the EYFS only applies to England. Other parts such as Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man have their own arrangements for childcare and early years education.
EYFS does not replace the Every Child Matters framework - it's aim is to help young children achieve the 5 Every Child Matters outcomes - staying safe, being healthy, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic well-being.
EYFS does replace Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage, the B23 Matters framework and the National Standards for Under 8's Daycare and Childminding but elements of all of these are still found within EYFS.
Find our more here: Forum EYFS Section.
EYFS Revisions - From 1st September 2012 the EYFS has been revised and new procedures must be followed.
See also the Free Downloads area of the Childminding Help Resources, there are many documents and information sheets available to help you
The EYFS looks at how children in those settings should learn develop and be cared for. It describes how everyone in those settings should work with you to make sure your child reaches their fullest potential.
There are seven areas of learning and development. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas, the prime areas, are:
Children must also be supported in the four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. The specific areas are:
Children should receive a good balance each day of organised activities, free play and quiet time, both indoors and outdoors (if you don't have an outdoor play area you can use a park for play and walks).
You should aim to provide a balance of child-initiated and adult-led activities to ensure that all 7 areas of development are covered dependent on the child’s individual stage of development. It is important that children enjoy their time with you and activities should depend upon how children feel on the day, what their interests are etc. These should be used to plan children’s activities
The four principles that should shape any practice are;
So is it best to have Policies and Procedures? Childminders do not have to have written policies under EYFS BUT they will be required to explain their procedures for example, on safeguarding children, or medication procedure so it's best to have them written down but it isn't a legal requirement.Having a set of written policies is a way of ensuring that parents have all the information they need about your business. They help to avoid any misunderstanding. If, for instance you have a Sickness Policy detailing that you cannot care for sick children and what arrangements a parent must make if their child is ill, then it avoids the embarrassment of parents turning up with poorly children and having to be turned away. Parents know exactly where they stand and you know that the information is there to hand rather than having to remember all the rules to remind parents verbally. Don't waste money buying ready written policies, you can get ideas in the forum Policies and Procedures section, someone is bound to have the ideal wording or even be willing to share a copy with you.
I have heard I need to complete a SEF, what is that? A SEF (Self Evaluation Form) is a detailed evaluation of your setting, if you can fill one out and keep it updated it is an excellent way for the Ofsted inspector to read about you and your setting prior to your inspection. You can complete your SEF online or on paper. More details can be found on the Ofsted website, including how to get a security token to allow you to fill out your form on line: Ofsted Self Evaluation Form details If you need help completing your SEF there is a specific section on the Childminding Forum where members will be glad to help - Self Evaluation Form Section
Someone said I should inform my home insurance company I'm minding, is that right? Yes it is, you should also tell your car insurance company too. If your home is owned by a housing association you should check with them that you are permitted to run a business from your home. Some insurance companies will not insure you if you are a childminder or impose high premiums before they will.
I have heard you should register with Data Protection is this true? Yes, in certain circumstances you must register with the ICO - Information Commissioner's Office, especially if you keep information stored on your computer. There is more information here: Registering with ICO
I'm due to have my Ofsted inspection soon, how do I prepare? It is important to spend some time preparing for Ofsted inspections because the grade you get will last for 3 years and you want the best you can achieve.
Start by having a look through your EYFS Pack, that gives details of all the areas that they will be inspecting and will help you to find what you need to do or what you have to meet for the Welfare Requirements.
Make sure you have completed your on-line Self Evaluation Form (SEF) you should have been sent details by Ofsted on how to access this with a special code called your 'Token'. If you have not received it, or you want to complete a paper version then you should contact Ofsted. Try to have all your paperwork together, so you know where to find it and don't get in a panic. For instance keep any certificates (first aid insurance etc) together in a folder and also any policies and procedures so that you can get them out to show. Don't forget that you must display your registration certificate as this is a condition of registration.
The inspector will be checking against the Welfare Requirements and the Framework for EYFS. Have a look through the pack and try to think how you meet them.
You could show your sickness policy, healthy meal plans or tell how you keep your home clean and hygienic or how you teach children about personal hygiene.
Say how you discuss and use road safety when you are out, or tell her about the safety equipment you have in your home, how you check toys for damage and that they are suitable for the age of the children and meet proper standards. Anything really that you do regarding safety
Show them any work the children have done and how you display it or share it with parents. Photos of outings or activities. Details of your activities that help children to enjoy and achieve i.e. cooking, gardening etc. Show how you let the children help with decisions on what activities you will be planning, what activities you do that help children feel good about themselves, how you find out about each child's background and use resources to positively promote their culture or lifestyle. Show the toys and books you have that reflect diversity and give the children positive role models of people like themselves and people different to themselves. Show how you display or share children's work.
There are lots of other ways you can show how you meet the requirements, the above is intended just to give you some ideas.
If you have children to mind at the time of your inspection then just get on with looking after them, don't ignore them for the sake of talking to the inspector, it's your job to care for them and the inspector will want to see how you do that.
Although some of this might sound a bit daunting, really all it is is showing what you do already, make sure you point out all the things you do for the children so that the inspectors knows, otherwise she might miss something important.
Just be yourself and you will be fine.
I've been told I should do observations and assessments but I don't know how. Observations and assessments can help you plan and prepare activities specifically for the needs of the children in your care and are a requirement of the EYFS. Read about Observations and Assessments and how to do them by clicking here
I'd like a website. Do you need a website to advertise your Childminding business but don't know how? Or perhaps you know how but just don't have the time to work on it. Can't afford to pay for a professional business website? For more information on how I build websites for childminders, use the link 'Need your own website?" or go direct now
What if my questions haven't been answered here? Come along to the Childminding Forum where you can talk to experienced childminders and those just starting out - they have probably experienced what you are going through and will be glad to help. You can ask as many questions as you like, you will be made most welcome. Use the button link on the left when you've finished reading these pages or go direct now