My childminding experience
My Childminding Experience shares and celebrates examples of how children of all ages are benefitting from being cared for by childminders across Scotland.
Childminders provide unique experiences and benefits for children that are different from group-based services. There are small numbers of children involved and a generous adult to child ratio, so children can experience higher levels of adult attention. Childminders often care for a mixed age group and this can create a unique experience for children. The Care Inspectorate has found that strong bonds can develop in childminding settings, with a small group of children being cared for by one consistent adult in domestic, homely premises. We want this resource to highlight these distinctive benefits.
Published in September 2017, My Childminding Experience is an improvement resource exploring and sharing good practice examples from across Scotland. It develops the Care Inspectorate’s model for improvement resources by focussing more on individual children and involving them and their families directly in narrating their experience. This reflects the person-centred approach of the Health and Social Care Standards, which describe good quality care from the point of view of the person experiencing it and the impact it is having on individual outcomes. The case studies show how individual children are experiencing good outcomes from attending a childminder with reference to the GIRFEC wellbeing indicators (Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included) and the Health and Social Care Standards.
My Childminding Experience was co-produced by the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA). In developing the practice examples, the extent to which individuals were identified was carefully considered, with names being changed or withheld in some cases. Each story was chosen because it primarily illustrates one of the wellbeing indicators. At the same time we recognise the indicators should not be viewed in isolation and a holistic approach to wellbeing should be developed, so we have shown when more than one indicator is illustrated. We also set out how the wellbeing indicators could generally be met for all children cared for by childminders.
My Childminding Experience has been developed primarily for childminding practitioners, but it has also been written for other professionals involved in early learning and childcare. The aim of My Childminding Experience is ultimately to raise the profile of childminding in Scotland – to childminders, parents and local authorities. As Scotland invests unprecedented resources into expanding provision, we hope that this publication will inform and influence the future development of early learning and childcare. With the current expansion of funded early learning and childcare, more children will be experiencing registered services for longer periods. The Care Inspectorate’s Review of Scotland’s Early Learning and Childcare Expansion encouraged local authorities to include childminders as well as playgroups and nurseries when planning and commissioning high quality and flexible services for children and their parents. We want this resource to highlight these distinctive benefits to parents and local authorities making choices about the most suitable type of service for children.
Following publication of My Childminding Experience, the Care Inspectorate produced Your Childminding Journey on behalf of Scottish Government, which supports the leaning and development of childminders.
Early learning and childcare organisations and practitioners have told us that using the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) wellbeing indicator headings of Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Resopnsible and Included is relevant and useful. This matches developments in how inspections are carried out, with childminders now being routinely inspected against the wellbeing indicators.
By clicking on each wellbeing indicators below, you can learn more about the good practice examples and case studies featured in My Childminding Experience.
The ‘Safe’ wellbeing indicator is described by Scottish Government as: “Protected from abuse, neglect or harm at home, at school and in the community.”
Argyll and Bute Council: A local authority supporting childminding and partnership working for vulnerable children
Linda Morrison, Early Years Worker, Community Childminding, Argyll and Bute Council: “The Community Childminding Service provides specialist support to families living in Argyll and Bute. This service, established 16 years ago, is free and discretionary. It assists families with very young children who are experiencing a particularly difficult time. The service provides short-term support to families whose situations may include postnatal or clinical depression, stress, exhaustion, and isolation, health issues for parent and child, drug/alcohol abuse, child protection and help to parent positively.
“Community childminders meet the Care Inspectorate grades of ‘good’ or above and have undertaken additional training to help them work with families who have been referred to the service by health visitors or social workers. The commissioning team is involved in issuing contracts which ensure standards are met.
“Argyll and Bute offers early learning and childcare (ELC) for two-year-olds currently with childminders and community childminders and can also provide ELC for the two-year-olds through the Partner Childminding Arrangements.
“The service follows the principles of Getting it Right for Every Child, Argyll and Bute’s Family Pathway, Building the Ambition, How Good is Our Early Learning and Childcare, Pre-birth to Three, and My World Outdoors. Argyll and Bute’s Early Years Service has produced a Learning and Development Resource which can assist childminders to provide a quality service and recognise the developmental stages a child has reached. The child’s wellbeing indicators are to the fore when assessing child development and keeping the child safe.
“The community childminder’s best asset, apart from their knowledge of child development and life experience, is their ability to build a rapport with parents, gain trust and be able to offer a ‘soft parenting’ approach. The rest and respite afforded to parents allows them to achieve a life balance, take stock of their situation and value the opportunity to proceed with lifestyle changes or child behaviour management programmes, as their situation dictates. They are often able to regain selfesteem, confidence and control of their life.
“Community childminders have a solid value base and seek to improve family situations in a focused, knowledgeable and unselfish way. Their qualities of common sense, humour and empathy towards parents with young children make such a lasting difference to the outcomes for children, evidenced by the increased confidence and self-esteem of both child and parent.
“A few of the community childminders have been team members for 15 or 16 years and their work is extremely valuable, in that the outcomes for children have been positive, and there has been less need for statutory services to become or remain involved. Registered childminders are one of Argyll and Bute’s most valuable assets.”
The childminder says:
“I decided to become a registered childminder after moving to a new area away from family and friends and unable to return to my previous employment. This allowed me to work from home and care for my own young children. I anticipated this would only be temporary work until my children were older and settled into school but that was over 25 years ago and I am still minding children. During this time the Community Childminding Service was introduced and shortly after it started I became part of the team. My employment now mainly involves working as a community childminder with children up to three years old.
“Children can be referred for a wide range of reasons including parental health issues, particularly postnatal depression, family breakup or drug and domestic abuse. Often the service is an intervention to prevent escalation of a potential crisis which may impact on the child’s safety and wellbeing. Every case is individual with different needs and although it can often be challenging I feel that this diversity makes the work more interesting and enjoyable.”
The ‘Healthy’ wellbeing indicator is described by Scottish Government as: “Having the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health, access to suitable healthcare and support in learning to make healthy, safe choices.”
The Scottish Childminding Association operates a Community Childminding Service in Glasgow. Mary, aged two, was referred to the service by her Health Visitor at a local Early Years Joint Support Team Meeting. The children’s names in this case study have been changed to protect their identities.
Jacqueline Spence, Community Childminding Development Officer, Scottish Childminding Association:
“Mary’s family moved to Glasgow from another country some time ago. Mary’s father was serving a prison sentence and mum was struggling to cope on her own with their two children. Mary’s older sibling has a severe form of autism and attended a school for Additional Learning Needs. Concerns were also raised by the Health Visitor and mum on whether Mary was also on the autistic spectrum. The family was very isolated with no family support or friends in the area.
“After discussions it was agreed a one-to-one place with a Community Childminder would be most beneficial to Mary’s needs. Mary was also attending the local mainstream nursery run by Glasgow City Council but due to the level of supervision required this was only possible for one hour per day, three days per week.
“After two months with the Community Childminder it was becoming apparent that Mary was showing signs of improvement and was beginning to engage with the Community Childminder in one-to-one activities for short periods of time. The Community Childminder worked alongside mum and both adopted the same strategies to deal with Mary’s behavioural challenges.
“Within three months Mary was ready to engage with other children on a short-term basis and the Community Childminder gradually introduced Mary to the local toddler group and was eventually able to take Mary on outings to local attractions.
“Mum’s stress levels were greatly reduced and she reported that Mary was now reacting to eye contact and simple activities. This was a huge improvement to Mary's previous behaviour which was now thought to be possible learned behaviour from older brother Sam although further investigations would be carried out.
“A multi-agency review meeting between Health, Social Work, Education, SCMA and mum was held. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the Community Childminding and nursery placement and allow discussions as to the best way forward for Mary and her family. Mum’s views were sought throughout the meeting. It was agreed that Mary's needs were not being met within the nursery environment and Mary’s needs would be better met solely within the Community Childminding placement. It was agreed to withdraw the nursery place and provide one-to-one concentrated work given by the Community Childminder.
“It was agreed the nursery place for Mary could be looked at further down the line. Mary is currently still with the Community Childminder two full days per week and it is hoped that further developmental milestones will be met.”
The childminder says:
“It took time to build a bond with Mary. We took small steps at Mary’s pace. Mum and I worked together to adopt consistent strategies so as not to confuse Mary.”
The ‘Achieving’ wellbeing indicator is described by Scottish Government as: “Being supported and guided in learning and in the development of skills, confidence and self-esteem, at home, in school and in the community.”
Yvonne Barr: Delivering the pre-school curriculum
Yvonne Barr, Childminder (South Lanarkshire), was inspected on 15 January 2016 with grades of ‘excellent’ for the quality of care and support and management and leadership and ‘very good’ for environment. Inspectors found that she had knowledge of Building the Ambition, Setting the Table and was able to demonstrate how this knowledge had changed her practice. Inspectors noted: “She is committed to ensuring that she is providing the best possible care and support for minded children. She is well aware of the impact of her role on positive outcomes for children.”
Parents told inspectors that at the beginning of each month Yvonne provides a detailed newsletter with information on the teaching topic for that month, outlining learning aims and highlighting how this links within the Curriculum for Excellence.
Yvonne Barr: “Children’s interests are used to help me plan learning topics. For example, one little girl was very keen on Fireman Sam so we did a topic on firefighters. We discussed what we already know about firefighters and then identified the learning.
“The identified learning was that children will be able to:
• Understand the role of the firefighter and their equipment
• Become aware of the risks and dangers of fire
• Visit a fire station
• Understand that 999 is the number to phone in the case of a fire
• Know what to do if your clothes catch fire – stop, drop, roll
“The children had great fun on our visit to the fire station. They also enjoyed role play and dressing up as firefighters with hoses. They listened to a story, Frances Firefly, and became aware of the importance of not playing with matches or fire. We practiced calling the emergency services on an interactive phone. They learned what to do if their clothes catch fire and understand that fire is dangerous.
“At the end of our topic we printed photographs, laminated them and made up a fire safety book. We also made a story book with photographs for the little girl who initiated the learning topic. She enjoys sitting and telling her own story to other children and adults.
“As well as relating to the early level outcome, ‘I can show ways of getting help in unsafe situations and emergencies’, this little girl’s interest provided the opportunity for learning across the Curriculum for Excellence. By engaging in all of these activities, the children’s experiences contributed to the following principles:
• Challenge and enjoyment – Active in their learning
• Progression – Build upon earlier knowledge
• Depth – Drawing different strands of learning together
• Breadth – Suitably weighted range of experiences
• Coherence – Opportunities for extended activities which draw on different strands of learning
• Personalisation and choice – Respond to individual needs exercising responsible personal choice
• Relevance – Understand the purpose of their activities, seeing the value of what they are learning and its relevance to their lives present and future.
The ‘Nurtured’ wellbeing indicator is described by Scottish Government as: “Having a nurturing place to live in a family setting, with additional help if needed, or, where possible, in a suitable care setting.”
This childminder in Aberdeen (name not used to maintain confidentiality), was inspected in 2017 with grades of 'good' for the quality of care and support, environment and management and leadership.
Inspectors observed good interaction between the childminder and child. The childminder knew the child very well and was attentive to their needs. This helped to form attachments between child and carer. Inspectors noted that she made use of the local community with the children such as visiting local parks regularly, going to the community cafe for lunch, attending toddler groups, kindergym, messy play and meeting up with other childminders in the area. Inspectors noted that this helped the children to feel included within their community.
The childminder says:
"I got my first ME2 child last January, a two-year-old boy. I think ME2 is a great scheme as it helps kids interact with other children. I've loved having him this last few months, he's come on leaps and bounds from the boy I first got in January. At first he was extremely shy and very clingy towards his grandma but now he enjoys playing with the kids, meeting new kids at toddlers group and at kindergym. I think ME2 is a great scheme for families in need of extra help."
The ‘Active’ wellbeing indicator is described by Scottish Government as: “Having opportunities to take part in activities such as play, recreation and sport, which contribute to healthy growth and development, at home, in school and in the community.”
Zoe Thwaites: Active learning on a beach
Zoe Thwaites, Childminder (The Black Isle), was inspected on 14 November 2016 with grades of ‘very good’ for the quality of care and support and environment, and ‘good’ for management and leadership. Inspectors found that she recognised the benefits of children being active in the wider community and the benefits to them playing outdoors. Inspectors said: “More time was spent outwith her home than in it with minded children. She was particularly interested in providing children with outdoor experiences. She used the natural environment to teach children about being safe, healthy and active, supporting them to achieve their potential through a range of activities. They learned to explore and respect their environment while enjoying it at the same time.”
Zoe Thwaites: “The Moray Firth beach at Avoch on the Black Isle is the playground in all weathers for the children who attend my childminding service. The children love the space, freedom and exploration it provides.
“One day when we were out playing one of the girls started collecting sticks. I asked if she would like help and the other children joined in. In the past they’ve made a pretend campfire where they sat round with shells dangling on the end of sticks – pretending to toast marshmallows on the campfire. But these sticks were not for a bonfire. This wee girl was quite clear these sticks were dinosaur bones. She chose where the ‘bones’ had to go and the other children followed her direction, all very excited at this dinosaur skeleton they were helping to construct. What a sense of achievement they all got when they saw the final skeleton lying on the shore. I allowed the inquisitive nature of one child to provoke the curiosity of the others and they were occupied with this activity for hours.
“The children are encouraged to continue with the activities, where possible, at home. Isobel, who is 20 months old, goes along to Kinder Gym with me while Martin, who is two and a half, takes part. Back home Isobel collected sticks and laid them out as a hurdle jumping track. “To further facilitate and complement child-led play, I am thinking of an obstacle course being developed on the beach as some children like to watch the others play then go to the activity after everyone else has left. This would be something that they do in their own time and at their own pace.
“Isobel loves travelling with me to Inverness by bus and spends hours in the library choosing books to share with the other children.
“Eryn is new and has been gathering sticks to build her own fairy garden and I am supporting her imagination and curiosity to do so. I ensure that these sticks are kept safe for Eryn to continue her imaginative play when she next returns as she is only with me for part of the week.
“Martin likes to build roads in the sand; Isobel will sometimes join in but both love looking for bugs under the stones and elsewhere. To expand this activity I have bought a bug catcher with magnifying class. However the bugs have been too fast to be caught so far! The kids have all recently been delighted in finding crabs instead and we have had a number of seals bobbing around recently to our amusement. This has tied in with a visit to our local library by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation society to learn more about these creatures.
“All the children love making chalk marks on the sea wall which can last there for weeks, depending on the weather.
“The older ones often instigate new outdoor activities, with the younger ones following suit. They have a range of outdoor activities including playing ball games, pretend fishing, flying kites, watching swans, collecting and decorating shells and stones, writing in the sand, growing plants in individual pots, playing with bubbles and water play.
“The children have great fun and wonderful learning opportunities with the sand, rocks and water throughout the year. It is rewarding to see them become more independent and confident in their surroundings as a result.”
The ‘Respected’ wellbeing indicator is described by Scottish Government as: “Having the opportunity, along with carers, to be heard and involved in decisions that affect them.”
Polly Wolly Doodle Childcare: Respecting the needs of children and the local community through funded Early Learning and Childcare
Paula Preston, Childminder (Scottish Borders), was inspected as Polly Wolly Doodle Childcare on 7 March 2017 with grades of ‘excellent’ for the quality of care and support, environment, staffing and management and leadership. The inspection report states: “The inspection found respectful relationships with families promoted information sharing and positive working relationships. Children were respectfully listened to with a high level of involvement in making daily decisions and planning activities. For example, the children are able to request spontaneous walks and specific art activities. This contributed to them feeling motivated, valued and included with a sense of ownership of their time spent in the service.”
Paula Preston: “I have taken part in the supported childminding scheme in the Scottish Borders for the past four years. The scheme is a partnership between Scottish Borders Council and the Scottish Childminding Association and offers funded childminding placements for children aimed at supporting family health and wellbeing.
“Typical referrals come in to support families experiencing a range ofissues including illness or bereavement, postnatal depression, anxiety, isolation, relationship difficulties, or to help with the arrival of a new baby. The scheme also seeks to support play and learning as well as socialisation, and is offered as an early, short-term intervention to prevent situations from becoming more long-lasting.
“Although it is only a small part of what I do, I have supported many families through community childminding, most often referred by health visitors. Referred families are treated the same as other families and I show respect for all my families by spending time getting to know them, asking about the children’s likes and dislikes as well as needs, and identifying the things which will make a difference to each parent and child. For example, we offer support due to stress in the home and the subsequent impact on this for the family’s wellbeing. Often this care gives families time to recuperate and reflect and subsequently improves the ability for a parent to meet their child’s needs.
“Some children who are referred can show developmental delay, have social and behavioural issues, problems with speech and have no interaction with other children, which in turn is very worrying for the parents. So my team and I do whatever we can to help the child, as well as providing a break for mum to recharge her batteries. Children are given plenty of opportunity for play and socialisation with other children. There is lots of singing, dancing, rhyming games as well as educational games. Placements last for 24 weeks and by the end of the placement both parent and child are in a far better place and ready to carry on without support.
“I looked after a child who came from a chaotic home, with very little belongings and a struggling parent. Respecting the child’s feelings of self-worth, belonging and value, we visited the charity shop opposite us and allowed him to choose some games and puzzles that interested him. The child felt valued and respected and as a result changes in him became apparent. Mum said that he enjoyed coming to see us and she really valued the time he had with us as he was in an environment where he was cared for, supported and respected. Mum found great peace knowing that her child was given the things that she couldn’t give, even if only for a few hours a week. During this time mum could relax at home and find her feet. She developed a routine for herself and felt that she became a more confident parent to her child.
“In one case, I gave a child an opportunity to choose their own personal bedding for sleep time, as sleep was an issue at home. The child looked forward to sleep time and really enjoyed having their own personal relaxing space. We have seven beds at Polly Wolly Doodle and we feel that rest and relaxation is important to a child. Because of rest and sleep, mum found that the child’s behaviour improved at home and as a result the mother/child relationship improved. Mum could find time to start enjoying her children and enjoying her life better, and because of this dramatic home improvement, mum started applying for jobs and having the confidence to attend interviews. She now works full time and the children are happy and healthy in school.
“In addition to this, we had another child who did not like sleeping in the dark, so we created a ‘light room’ and moved around our whole setting to provide a space where they felt safe and could sleep with ease. Again, this child was able to choose bedsheets to make the space their own. One child’s home life was a little over-stimulating. Respecting the child’s needs and wishes, we redecorated all areas of our setting using light, calm colours, with a very natural feel. We added a lot softer seating to invite relaxation time. Not only did this benefit that one child but all our children, as it’s important to encourage rest and relaxation.
“My team and I are always available for a chat at the beginning and the end of a session, to find out how things are going for the family and to pass on information. We also use daily diaries to give updates for younger children.
“Referrers are grateful to have something to offer families who they believe are at risk of becoming more serious cases. At the end of placements, referrers are asked to fill in feedback forms. One said recently: ‘It is clear to those who work with him and his own family that the boy has thrived during his time in Paula’s care. His skills of socialisation and speech have vastly improved and it has allowed him to develop his confidence. In regard to the benefits for mum, supported childminding has allowed her the time and space to gain control back of her life after a period of significant stress and upset.
“In another case, siblings who lived in a remote area had very little engagement with other children and very rarely got to play outside. Mum felt she wasn’t in a place to help her children socialise and very rarely went outside herself. We ensured these children had regular access to community resources and take part in trips to local parks, libraries, the lake and woodland walks. We also took these children on visits to farms to enable them to see farm life as one of the girls was a huge fan of farm animals.
“We have recently purchased a six-seater push-along bus. This enables us to take the children further afield, as they love getting outdoors with their friends. It has become very popular in the community, Shopkeepers come out to wave at us as we go by, and it engages a lot of conversation with the elderly too.
“This sort of local engagement encourages respect for the community and develops a sense of belonging among the children, something I cultivate through a number of other community activities.
“Every Friday a member of staff takes a group of children to the park for Football Friday. They play games with the children and incorporate fun exercises. The local football team have gotten to know our children well, and are always very friendly towards us. The children in our care love their connection to football. We have pitch-side advertising – the children have a huge sense of excitement when they see it and it makes them feel a part of something.
“The minded children are often taken out into the community – we have trips to local businesses which encourage children to interact with the community and to also enjoy it. Our latest trip to the local bank ended with each child receiving a piggy bank. We recently attended the local Volunteer Hall for a community lunch. This lunch takes place on the first Wednesday of every month. The children enjoyed soup and a sandwich and everyone who attended loved seeing the children and their big red bus. The community lunch helps to ensure the hall remains open, as it is a community asset, and the older people there really enjoy interacting with the young children.
“The children get involved in the annual Christmas Gift Box appeal and Cash for Kids. The children and parents like to get involved and it’s a good way to teach them to give to the less fortunate.
“We host regular coffee mornings, inviting families along to join in. This has been popular and is getting so big now that the last time we had one we had to put tables and chairs in the garden. We bake our own scones and decorate our playroom like a café. We charge £2 entry and all the funds go towards local charities and new toys. The children get a lot out of fundraising and it’s even better when they can see the fruits of their labour.
“The children also take part in gaining ECO School awards, gaining Bronze and Silver. They enjoy learning about their environment and how to take care of it.
“I can offer 600 hours early learning and childcare to eligible two-year-olds and this has meant that in some cases families have been able to extend their time with me by up to a year, helping them to prepare their child for attending nursery at age three. Taking the children to the nursery setting to pick up and drop off other childminded children helps to familiarise younger children with the setting, and being away from their own families in a home-based environment helps them to prepare for the transition to nursery.”
The ‘Responsible’ wellbeing indicator is described by Scottish Government as: "Having opportunities and encouragement to play active and responsible roles at home, in school and in the community, and where necessary, having appropriate guidance and supervision, and being involved in decisions that affect them."
Lizzie Bizzie: Providing funded hours in partnership for three- and four-year-olds
Elizabeth Taylor, Childminder (Scottish Borders), was inspected as Lizzie Bizzie on 30 September 2016 with grades of ‘excellent’ for the quality of care and support, environment, and management and leadership. Inspectors considered it clear that children had excellent opportunities to be included, respected and feel comfortable in her care. They praised her use of ‘worry bags’ for children who were apprehensive about transition to nursery or school and noted that she spoke with compassion and sensitivity about making this a positive and exciting experience for them. Children had excellent opportunities to be included and active as the childminder listened to their ideas, shared them on a ‘good ideas board’ and put them into practice. Inspectors noted that children had been included in planning the outdoor garden area which offered a great variety of resources to stimulate their imagination and experience a wide range of natural materials in play. Children were involved in risk assessment in their play, both in the home and on outings.
Elizabeth Taylor: “I like to put responsible citizenship at the heart of my childminding business and I work hard to raise the profile of childminding and the role that childminders can play in the community, as well as creating opportunities for even the youngest children to be part of the communities in which they live.
“I have been childminding for 12 years and I make the outdoors, including the local woods, a key focus of my setting. Children delight in showing new people around ‘their’ woods. They give visitors instructions such as ‘look up to check if branches are going to fall’, and ‘we can go as far as that tree over there and these bushes here so Lizzie can see us’.
“Our small numbers allow for spontaneity – recently I had planned to celebrate Chinese New Year but the children said they wanted to go to the woods. Being a childminder, that wasn’t a problem – off we went with our camping stove and cooked the noodles in the fresh air, had our stories and did our celebrating outside instead. The beauty is that they could all participate at their own level, from the one-year-old to the four-year-old.
“I tailor my service to the children I work with – for example responding to one child’s anxiety by devising a ‘worry bag’ available to all children, who could put their worries into it, and helping all the children to discuss the worries together. Some of the older children would write a worry themselves, while the younger ones might come with a worry they had told a parent or an older sibling who had then written it down for them. Worries became something that weren’t hidden – the children realised we all have worries sometimes and saw that talking about them could help. I hope this is something they will take through life.
“I also use a ‘good ideas board’ for planning. I’ve tried all sorts of ways of involving children in planning, but sometimes the simplest things work the best and this is certainly true of the ‘good ideas board’. It gives the children control and helps me provide activities for them that they want to engage in and enjoy – win, win!
“In the past three years I have taken part in a pilot project, delivering government-funded early learning and childcare to three- and four-year-olds. I have hugely enjoyed participating in the project. Childminders offer a flexible service and can respond to the needs of individual families and children. We offer a ‘home from home’ approach – nurturing the children in a warm and welcoming environment with the same individual caring for the child each day, and with our smaller numbers we are well able to integrate into the local community and all it has to offer. We can easily adapt plans – for example if a child arrives at the setting feeling tired and we have planned a walk to the woods then we can react to their needs and complete the walk another day. If a child arrives and announces it is a family member’s birthday and they would like to make them a surprise cake we can all walk to the local shop, purchase ingredients and make the cake. There’s such a lot of real learning available in a childminding setting and we should embrace this.
“The early learning and childcare pilot has very clearly demonstrated that childminders like myself are very well placed and able to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence framework as is currently offered in larger and more formal nursery settings. Parents deserve choice and above all children deserve to have the opportunity to access childcare that best meets their needs.”
The ‘Included’ wellbeing indicator is described by Scottish Government as: “Having help to overcome social, educational, physical and economic inequalities, and being accepted as part of the community in which they live and learn.”
Wendy Holt: Inclusive out-of-school care in a home environment
Wendy Holt, Childminder (Clackmannanshire), was inspected on 2 November 2016 with grades of ‘excellent’ for the quality of care and support, environment, and management and leadership. Inspectors praised her excellent relationships with children and parents and noted that these help her involve them in a meaningful way in what she provides as they can easily have their say. Inspectors said: “She sees what is good in people and in situations and she helps children to see this too. It helps them over worries and things they are unsure about which makes them more confident and happy.” Inspectors noted that she had firmly established the round-table discussion at snack time as a thoroughly inclusive and entirely safe way for each child to talk openly about the highlights of their day and to off load any unhappy or concerning experiences. “The group jointly offered solutions showing the strong sense of responsibility toward each other which the childminder had promoted the children to develop,” they noted.
“I live in a semi-rural village in central Scotland and look after Noah, a 10-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with autism. Noah has had few changes in his out-of-school care until last year when his parents had to rethink their choice of service. Originally Noah attended my service for only one day a week but having experienced the type of care I provide Noah he now attends full-time.
“Noah is a fully integrated member of my community of cared for children, there are 11 other children aged from four to 12 years attending throughout the week and Noah has a positive relationship with each of them.
“Feeling included, comfortable and relaxed in my home is paramount and I create this by greeting each child individually whenever I meet them – at the front door or at the school playground. Noah will wish me goodbye and says: ‘I’ll be thinking of you’ when he goes into class in the morning. In the evening, Noah says ‘goodbye my treasure’. There is a routine the children are familiar with when we arrive at the house after school and Noah can remind younger members: ‘shoes and coats away and hand wash before snack time’.
“We all take turns at sharing our news at snack time, the best bits and worst bits, and the children peer mentor one another. This tends to be the time when Noah will share any concerns he has about the day without the intensity of a one-to-one with an adult ‘fishing’ for information. I can pass this on to his parents verbally but backed up with the daily diary. Having appropriate and acceptable behaviour and language expectations builds cohesion in our community which some children have thrived in for seven years.
“Noah is usually relaxed and not agitated while he is with me but if he is anxious I do my best to relieve his anxieties. For instance, one morning he had left a school book at home and was convinced his teachers would be cross and would shout at him. With Noah’s permission, I wrote a letter to his teacher explaining his fears and then texted his parents to let them know what I had done and kept a copy for them and one for his file.
“On another occasion, Noah’s low tolerance threshold for noise meant that after a music lesson he came out of school complaining of a headache. We have a short walk from school to the house and it helped to calm Noah and then he took his time to relax away from other children until he felt better. Noah responds very well when time is taken to listen to him, understand his anxieties and to help to provide a solution.
“Noah is very creative and enjoys drawing and arts and crafts. We have a homemade height chart on the kitchen door where we record all the children’s growth throughout the year. Noah spent hours decorating the tree on the chart with sun and clouds, rainbows and butterflies, rabbits and flowers including painstakingly gluing magical glittery stars all over the rainbow. On other occasions, Noah has made robots from the junk modelling box and a wonderful top hat from paper and a beard from old net curtains.
“I am fortunate to have enough space inside and outside so that the children have the freedom to choose activities as a group or as an individual and all the children are comfortable in making requests from what snacks they would like to toys or activities they want to access. The level of inclusion I practise makes my service a genuine home away from home.”
Expansion of early learning and childcare
For some young children, provision of early learning and childcare through a childminder may be the best option to meet their particular needs, regardless of where they live. The Care Inspectorate recognises the unique benefits of home-based care, particularly in providing continuity and promoting attachment for young children.
Only a small number of childminding services are currently in partnership to provide funded places. There could be an increased use of childminders to better deliver funded early learning and childcare, not least in remote and rural areas where other demand is insufficient or the pattern of local needs make group settings unfeasible.
There are some models where childminders not only provide early learning and childcare as a sole provider but also offer blended provision with an establishment-based setting. It is important that local authorities understand the potential of childminders in developing local commissioning approaches, recognising that childminders are registered, regulated and inspected in order to ensure the quality of their setting is high and the childminder's commitment to continuous improvement.
You can find out more about the expansion of early learning and childcare in National Policy and Legislation.
- Care Inspectorate Review of Scotland's Early Learning and Childcare Expansion
- A Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland - 2017-18 Action Plan
- A Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland: Quality Action Plan
- Building the Ambition: National Practice Guidance on Early Learning and Childcare
An essential library of resources for new and current childminders is available in the Childminding Library section below.
Whether you are considering childminding as a career or you are an established childminder with years of experience, the resources listed below will be essential reading as part of your learning and development.
Care Inspectorate resources
This online resource to support development and learning is designed to help both prospective and practising childminders identify the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to provide the best outcomes for children. This highly practical resource contains a series of statements which reflect quality childcare provision. The quality statements and supporting information enable childminders to reflect on their service, what they do well and how they could improve. It is not an inspection tool and there is no expectation from the Care Inspectorate that childminders provide evidence against each quality statement.
My Childminding Experience is a resource exploring and sharing good practice examples from across Scotland of how childminding can benefit children and their families. My Childminding Experience has been co-produced by the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA).
Caring for other people’s children is a big responsibility and there are various requirements that your childminding service must meet before you can begin. This booklet tells you what these requirements are, so you can make sure you meet them before we register your service and for the whole time you are running your service.
We have produced this guide to help those who want to register and operate a care service in Scotland. It is an offence under the Act to provide a care service that is not registered with us. We give information and advice to people who provide care services, or who are considering becoming care service providers.
A short guide to Care Inspectorate inspections, including information on what we inspect and how we grade. The document also includes a section on 'mythbusting'.
This publication explains which records must be held by childminders, on the people who use the service, staff records, environment and safety, complaints, medication, finance and staffing levels. Information on notification reporting responsibilities is also included.
Further information on the inspection process and how inspection reports are structured and prepared. Things we talk about in our reports, including recommendations, requirements, enforcement, complaints, participation and personal plans, are all explained.
Creative play helps children flourish as confident, resilient and happy individuals and it is vital for child development. Creativity is a key ingredient for children to learn how to follow their curiosity, solve problems and make sense of the world. Our Creative Journey is aimed at promoting good practice in all types of early learning and childcare (ELC) settings, to help all services aspire to be the best they can be and have the greatest impact on children's lives.
This is a good practice resource which shares inspiring stories from services showing how much children are benefiting from outdoor play. Mainstream as well as outdoor-based services are featured and it aims to encourage all early learning and childcare services to make the most of the natural environment. This resource is as much for urban as rural services and is for all age ranges of children and different service types.
This resource is good practice guidance intended to help employers, especially those in social care, early education and childcare and social work to meet existing legislative and regulatory requirements in relation to the safer recruitment and selection of people who work with individuals who receive support and care from social services in Scotland.
This guidance signposts to good practice principles of medicines management. It provides information on what needs to be in policies and procedures for storage and administration of medication, consent to treatment, record keeping, management of fever, minor ailments and staff training.
The Care Inspectorate was formed under the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, and it is within this Act that their functions and powers and duties are defined. Please also note The Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (Requirements for Care Services) Regulations 2011.
Scottish Government resources
Scottish Government in partnership with the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Futures Trust guidance designed to maximise positive experiences for children and improve the quality of care and learning by helping to make early learning and childcare and out of school care services the best they can be in terms of design.
GIRFEC is the national approach in Scotland to improving outcomes and supporting the wellbeing of children and young people by offering the right help at the right time from the right people. It supports them and their parent(s) to work in partnership with the services that can help them.
Building the Ambition "sets the context for high quality Early Learning and Childcare as set out in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014" and aims to support practitioners by looking at the "key areas which make a difference to a child's early learning and childcare experiences and the important role that practitioners play".
The new Health and Social Care Standards set out what we should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland. They seek to provide better outcomes for everyone; to ensure that individuals are treated with respect and dignity, and that the basic human rights we are all entitled to are upheld.
National guidance by Learning and Teaching Scotland, replacing 'Birth to Three: Supporting our Youngest Children'. Aimed at promoting continuing professional development, the guidance identifies the four 'key principles for best starts and positive outcomes' and features to put the principles into practice.
A self-evaluation framework by Education Scotland offering specific illustrations of practice in early learning and childcare for children aged 0-5 years.
Benchmarks have been developed to provide clarity on the national standards expected within each curriculum area at each level. Their purpose is to make clear what learners need to know and be able to do to progress through the levels, and to support consistency in teachers’ and other practitioners’ professional judgements.
The SSSC Codes of Practice set out the standards of practice and behaviour expected of everyone who works in social services and the standards expected of employers of social service workers.
The guidance has been produced in response to questions raised over whether childminders should register as food business operators. This guidance is aimed solely at registered childminders in domestic premises and is not intended for nannies and home child carers or care operating from non-domestic premises such as nurseries, care homes and schools.
The Early Years Information Pathway is designed to guide professionals through the national information resources that are available to facilitate discussion and effective communication with parents and carers.
The Continuous Learning Framework sets out what people in the social service workforce need to be able to do their job well now and in the future and describes what employers need to do to support them. This document is for individuals working in the social service sector and for the organisations which employ them.
This revised guidance has been developed with the Scottish Childminding Association and the Care Inspectorate to help early years childcare providers to meet the Scottish Government National Care Standards: Early Education and Childcare up to the age of 16 (2009).
This Toolkit and supporting documents are aimed at Local Authorities to help improve the design and provision of places and spaces for all children, so that they can feel safe and confident playing outside in their neighbourhoods.
Guidance on infection prevention and control for staff working within nurseries, day-care centres, playgroups, crèches, children’s centres, childminders, after-school clubs and holiday clubs. This guidance should also be used by staff involved in all outdoor activities for children.
Childsmile has developed a national supervised toothbrushing programme where each child brushes once a day in nursery or targeted school settings. Childminders can offer supervised toothbrushing to children in their care on days when they do not attend another establishment which carries out the toothbrushing programme. Further information is available on the Childsmile website.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, or UNCRC, is the most complete statement of children’s rights ever produced and is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history.
Latest children and young people bulletin
A weekly bulletin produced by our policy team providing an update on the key developments concerning children and young people.
Children & Young People Bulletin: 16 -22 February 2024Children & Young People Bulletin: 16 -22 February 2024
A resource celebrating the many ways in which early learning and childcare settings are supporting children to have positive eating experiences and enjoy well-balanced, nutritious foodView Page
My world outdoors
A practice resource highlighting the benefits of outdoor play for children attending early learning and childcareView Page