What is a green childminder?

I’ve just written about how I try to live and raise my family in a way that respects the environment and the natural world. In practice this means making choices about what we buy, our leisure activities, our household chores and what we teach our children. But what does this mean with respect to my childminding business and for mindees and their families?

1. Happy children

Number one should definitely be the fantastic experiences I can provide for children. We will explore woodlands, meadows, moorlands and all the wild places we can find. We will learn how the world works by experiencing it together. And by experiencing all that the natural world has to offer the children will learn to love and respect the environment.

When exploring outdoor environments with the children I encourage Natural Play, where children are given the freedom to explore natural spaces and play with the natural materials that interest them. I also adopt a lot of Forest School practices to provide fun, creative and educational experiences.

2. Healthy children

We spend as much time as possible outside so the children will  get lots of fresh air and exercise.

We have a healthy diet – loads of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, healthy proteins and limited processed foods or refined sugar. Most of our fresh foods are organic and some from our own allotment. Sweet treats are homemade, often by the children.

The children’s exposure to toxins and chemicals is minimised as our toys are mostly made from non-toxic and safe materials and I used non-toxic natural cleaning solutions.

3. Green childcare options for parents

For those who already consider the environmental impact of their lifestyles I can offer childcare in line with these values. Some day to day practices I adopt may differ from other childcare providers for example I use washable cloth wipes instead of disposable and I am happy to change cloth nappies if that is what the child is already using at home.

 

 

 

 

 

My green ambitions

As a parent we make so many choices about how to bring up our children and manage our families. In all my choices I consider the impact on the environment and the natural world. Teaching my children about the environment comes naturally to me and integrates easily into my lifestyle. I’m not sure how to sum up my lifestyle. Some would use terms such as environmentally or eco-friendly, natural, respectful etc but I have chosen green.

Here the five lifestyle principles I try to live by, and uphold in my childcare business:

1. Reducing waste

I purchase a lot of foods at a minimal waste shop where I can buy dry goods and cleaning products without any packaging. Fruit and veg come from the local market. I cook mostly from scratch, avoid processed and convenience foods and bake my own bread and treats. Food waste is mostly composted and packaging recycled or used in craft projects!

My own children use reusable cloth nappies and cloth baby wipes. They are washed in the machine and dried outside. We use cloth wipes, flannels and handkerchiefs for mucky hands and faces.

2.  Buy and use less plastic

Plastic is environmentally costly to manufacture and to recycle, and when disposed of it is harmful to wildlife and the environment.  Plastic toys are often poor quality and can easily break and cannot be repaired. There are also safety concerns over the toxicity of plastic toys and tableware especially when considering young children who mouth and chew everything.

Our toys are mostly of sustainable materials – wood and fabric. We do have plastic toys but these are chosen carefully to ensure longevity and safety. Most of our toys are chosen to stimulate open ended play and loose parts play whereby items are used in a huge variety of games to encourage creativity, imagination and learning.

At the dinner table the children eat from enamel or porcelain crockery and use real metal cutlery. Cups are glass, metal or bamboo fibre depending on the ability of the child. I find that when children use real crockery they are less likely to confuse it with a play thing and fling it across the room. Of course if cup flinging is a risk I would not opt for glass ware!

3. Natural cleaning

I have been making my own natural cleaning products for a while. I don’t like to use toxic chemicals around my home when I have children in close contact to floors and surfaces and breathing in the air. The chemicals in commercial cleaning products enter the water cycle when we flush them away and have a negative effect on the environment. Making my own products also allows me to minimise the plastic I buy and waste.

My cleaning products are made from water, white vinegar, lemon juice, soda bicarbonate and essential oils. All ingredients are natural and non toxic.

4. Thoughtful food

I cook all our own meals and snacks from scratch. We usually eat vegetarian during the week but have loads of protein from beans, pulses, dairy, nuts and seeds. In every meal I maximise the vegetable and wholegrain content. A lot, I can’t claim all, of our fruit and vegetables are organic and during the summer a lot comes from our own allotment. When we eat meat it is ethically sourced, usually local and organic.

5. Learning about the environment and nature

Teaching children about the natural world is what I am passionate about. We visit a wide variety of wild places such as parks, woodlands and nature reserves to learn about different environments and wildlife. I am a member of the forest childcare association which encourages regular wild outings. The children develop a love for the wild outdoors and learn to value and respect the environment from a young age. Our allotment is a brilliant resource where the children can grow their own vegetables and learn where real food comes from.

The practices I have described above, from minimal waste shopping to natural cleaning, introduce children to environmental issues. The children are actively involved in recycling, cooking, gardening etc which are all brilliant opportunities for learning.

Teaching the next generation to love and respect the environment from a young age is the single most important way we can protect our world for the future.

 

Childminder registration – an update

Suddenly my childminding application seems to be progressing again and I appear to be on schedule for registering by September. This is good news of course but I do also feel a wave of anxiety! I thought I’d briefly list the tasks I’ve completed to date and those on my to do list for the next few months.

Completed March – mid-April

  1. I bought myself a shiny new laptop which has had a lot of use over the last month. A huge cost for me but necessary to complete online training, build my website and for planning, resources and tracking once up and running.
  2. I applied for DBS checks for myself and my husband. These are needed for everyone living at your address aged over 16. I also applied to the update service which will keep the DBS certificate up to date. The DBS certificates took about 4 weeks to be processed and I’ve just received both.
  3. I attended a briefing session run by the local authority. This was an excellent morning where I received a lot of information and advice as to the application process and more broadly as to the role of a childminder.
  4. I completed an online training course run by Childmindinguk.com. I completed the course online in my evenings and weekends and found it informative and well presented. I will definitely review all modules several more times before my registration as they covered an awful lot of information.
  5. We survived a mammoth IKEA trip with both boys in tow to buy some new toy storage and furniture. By pushing our mostly redundant dining table to the edge of the room we have created a wonderful play room in the lounge. I wish we’d done this ages ago because it is a lovely space. I now have the storage to be able to rotate toys and resources which has transformed the way the boys play at home.

To do in April and May

  1. I am booked onto a paediatric first aid course in mid-May over 2 weekends.
  2. A level 2 food hygiene course. Although not compulsory for my application I am keen to do this and can complete the training online. A definitive plus when childcare is so tricky.
  3. Garden improvements! I am looking forward to this although as it requires a lot of input from my other half as well it’s taking a while to get around to. Not that he’s reluctant! But we have so little time when we can both get to work on a project. We have plans to create an additional playhouse/ fort, improve the decking and make safe the garden boundaries.
  4. There are several diy jobs to get done around the house, mostly things like installing child locks onto cupboards (which we never seemed to get around to after nearly 4 years of kids!)
  5. I have to start writing policies, risk assessments, advertising etc
  6. Start the Ofsted application form and await my pre-inspection visit!

In summary I’ve spent an awful lot of money and there are still quite a few things to achieve before submitting my application. But I’m beginning to feel like I’m getting somewhere at last!

Why I have chosen childminding

I have been a stay at home mum since my second son was born in 2017. I found looking after my two boys 7 days a week really challenging at first, and still do some days! But I love being there for them and watching them grow and develop, I appreciate how lucky I am to be in this position. I gradually became to realise that I was rather good at meeting the needs of my baby and toddler whilst providing stimulating and creative play, activities and outings. I also realised that I was enjoying my new role and that I was feeling confident and motivated. I think my children have a wonderful home environment and I would love to offer this to other families.

Childminders provide brilliant childcare for young children: a nurturing home environment, a relaxed child-led routine and activities based on the Early Years Foundation Stage. For families they provide flexibility and reliability. I went back to work for a couple of years after my first son was born and he attended a nursery. I know how important good quality childcare is for working parents. In hindsight I wish that I had considered a childminder for our son as there are many benefits over a nursery setting. I will probably write about the differences in future as this may be useful for parents.

From a personal point of view childminding will allow me to build my own career whilst caring for my children in my own home. Minded children will become part of the family and the boys will love having friends to play with. Childminding is a challenging and rewarding career and I can’t wait to get started.

How to register as a childminder

All childminders in England need to be registered with Ofsted. The registration process is fairly time consuming and there are several steps to take. The whole process may take up to 6 months.

You will need:

  • a UK criminal record certificate (DBS check) for yourself and anyone aged 16 or over living in your home
  • Paediatric first aid training
  • Childcare training
  • Health declaration signed by your GP
  • Contact details for 2 references

Once these things are in place you must register with Ofsted. There are two registers that you can join, or you can join both.

Early Years Register – to look after children aged 0-5 you must join the Early Years Register. You will receive a pre-registration inspection from Ofsted when you apply and once registered you must follow the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework.

Childcare Register – to look after children aged 5-8 you must join the childcare register. There is no pre-registration visit associated with this register but Ofsted will carry out regular inspections once registered.

Once your registration application is submitted Ofsted will do background checks with authorities and check your references. If applying for the Early Years Register a pre-registration visit will be arranged where an inspector will check your identity and qualifications, check that your house and gardens are safe for children, check your level of English and make sure that you are familiar with the EYFS requirements and that you can put them into practice.

Once your application is approved you may start practising as a childminder. You will need to update home and car insurance and purchase public liability insurance. You will also need to register as self employed with HMRC.