28 June 2017

Childminding - What's on offer and what should you expect



One of the hardest and biggest decisions we make as parents is choosing the best education for our child, including pre-school education. Some critics suggest that our culture imposes structured learning too early, and there is not enough emphasis on learning through free play for our youngsters.

Childminders are registered professional day carers who are self employed and work from their own home. This provides care and education for other peoples' children in a warm and friendly family environment.

Childminders can be registered for no more than six children, including their own, at any one time. The number of children are split into age ranges of: three under 5's and three under 8 year olds.

The advantages of a childminder are flexibility, reliability, affordability, often one to one care in a safe and a homely environment. Childminders are able to look after only a small group of children, their daily routine is very adaptable to cater for individual needs, for example sleep patterns and dietary requirements. There can also be greater flexibility on the hours of care, and there is usually no restriction on a minimum amount of sessions.

Under 'The Childrens Act 1989' childminders have to be registered. The registration process offers a wide range of rigorous policies including police checks on the applicant, as well as health checks, social services checks, and safety inspection of the home and the applicant is also interviewed.

With effect from 1 September 2001, OFSTED have taken over the registration and inspection duties from the local authority. The new inspections will follow the National Standards for Registration that are being developed by the Department of Education and Employment (DfEE). This is good news for both the childminders and the parents alike and it also ensures that both levels of caring and safety standards are maintained.

There are courses available to the childminder that lead to qualifications, for example, Introducing Childminding Practice (ICP) and the Certificate in Childminding Practice (CCP). They aim to develop the knowledge and skills for childminding practices.

A childminder also offers the youngsters the opportunity to learn from everyday activities, like shop-ping trips, school runs, family mealtimes, and visits to the park. These activities offer the child valuable life skills that they may not acquire so readily in a nursery.

Playing is a vital role in the learning and development of our children. Childminders offer a wide range of toys, books, games and outdoor play to stimulate their minds. Free play is important for children to learn and explore on their own. However, structured play is also educational and offers good stimulation for a young mind. Childminders are also able to incorporate structured play topics, for example, 'themed weeks'. This might consist of learning about animals one week, transport the next week and so on. Other opportunities for structured play may include music and singing or maybe arts and crafts.

Childminders keep a record for parents of what their child has enjoyed doing during the day and which topics in particular they have found interesting. It is important for childminders to work with the parents - allowing good communication and feed-back is vital to ensure the best teaching and care is being offered to each child.

A good childminder should offer a structured itinerary for your child including learning topics and through play. Each week there should be a daily timetable of activities which includes lots of free play, messy play and outdoor play too!

You can obtain further info: regarding childminding from the NCMA (National Childminding Association), 8 Masons Hill, Bromley, Kent. BR2 9EY.

Telephone: 020 8464 6164 Web: www.ncma.org.uk

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