Childminders are a popular choice when choosing childcare, as many parents want their child to be cared for in a home environment. It is also a popular choice because:
- of the special relationship that can be established between the parents and the child minder;
- of continuity. As a child gets older they may access a pre-school or maintained nursery prior to starting mainstream schooling. These are usually half day sessions and by continuing to use the services of a childminder to offer the wrap around care, parents are ensuring that their child has continuity of care. This continuity is important for the relationships/attachments that a child forms with carers other than their parents;
- a childminder can also continue to care for the child once they have started full time school, where the school day is often shorter than a normal working day and where the holidays are longer than most working parents can access; and
- they are frequently parents themselves and this usually brings comfort when leaving your baby in the care of another person
Another increasingly common practice is for couples to child mind as a business. This is an attractive option as it means that your child will be given positive gender role models. Men are sadly a rarity in the childcare profession. It is important where possible for young children to have experience of forming attachments and relationships with members of both sexes; remember that you probably are looking at a childminder because you want your child to be cared for in a family environment.
Choosing a childminder
When choosing a childminder you have a number of tools at your disposal:
- Ofsted report – ask the childminder for their Unique Reference Number (URN) and you can source their inspection report from the Ofsted website
- Other parents’ feedback and references
- A visit to the premises
- Your own instincts
By using a combination of these you will be able to establish if this is the person with whom you can establish a business working relationship, as well as a very personal one.
Questions to ask when choosing a childminder
- Ask to see their daily/weekly routine. Watch out for a childminder who is rarely at home if you have made this choice for a home-care setting.
- Ask for the childminder to describe what and how they plan for the children in their care. They should tell you that they observe the children to see what they know and can do, and what they are interested in, before planning what to do.
- Ask about the type of activities that are on offer to the children. Ensure that these are ‘experiences’ rather than product producing. Remember that babies and young children need to explore and investigate using all of their senses in order to build connections in the brain.
- Ask if they are registered for Nursery Education Grant funding. This could help you with finance once their child is three years of age.
- Ask what schools or nurseries they drop-off or pick-up from. This might have an effect on whether they can drop-off or pick-up from your chosen nursery or school in the future.