Gin Funder, Anna, is mum to two children. She describes the huge impact that her childminders have had on their whole family.
This post is sponsored by Pacey, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years.
Why did you choose a childminder for your son?
When I began the process of returning to work after my son was born it felt like an overwhelming decision. Despite approaching multiple nurseries in our area, their lack of flexible hours or availability meant we were at a bit of a loss. I then bumped into a mum about to return to work whose childminder happened to have a place. She worked for the police, so I figured if she trusted them then I probably could too. It was the best decision we ever made.
My son grew and thrived in the care of Nicky and her husband Gary. They tailored their activities based on the 8 children in their care, which was invaluable as my son was a really late walker (22 months!).
We’ve now moved but we still stay in touch as they were such a huge part of his childhood – we genuinely love them! When I had my second, choosing a childminder over a nursery just felt obvious. It really works for us and we would absolutely recommend it to new parents looking at options.
What are the fantastic qualities about your childminder that you’re thankful for?
We have had two over the years and both were – and are – so committed to seeing our children grow and develop. In terms of qualities, the ones that stand out are their gentleness, patience and wisdom. Especially the wisdom!
How have your children benefited from having a childminder?
Both of our children have benefited hugely from being in a home environment, in a smaller group setting, and in a consistent routine. Because of the smaller set up, they go out and about on at least 3 of the 4 days they are being cared for, and each activity is tailored for their abilities. When we moved house, we were keen to stay with home-based childcare. Both of our childminders have had a dog. I realise it’s not for everyone, but we’re not currently in a position to have a pet and so it’s been brilliant that they have been able to get used to, and look after, a family pet in their care environment.
What has it meant to you personally to have the reassurance of a great childminder to look after your children?
It has meant the world! It can be a really difficult experience returning to work. There are so many emotions wrapped up in finding someone else to care for your children while you go back to an environment that suddenly feels alien and unfamiliar. When we found our childminder, I knew that the process would be easier. My son transitioned smoothly and became an extension of their family. He felt safe, cared for and my husband and I knew that we were leaving him with someone we felt we knew personally.
What have you learnt about the EYFS while your child has been with the childminder and how has the childminder encouraged you to support their learning at home?
Our first childminder, Nicky, updated us daily through an online system of photos and details of their day and each ‘term’ would produce a folder which tracked our son’s EYFS learning. It was really helpful and set us up nicely for starting at school. Every day, our current childminder chats through how our youngest is developing, interacting with others and engaging with new activities. We also know that we can get in touch with her easily if we have any concerns. Both our childminders have worked closely with us in respect to our children’s learning.
Have you changed anything about how you parent as a result of having your childminder?
Absolutely. Nicky, having supported many children, as well as having four of her own, was so reassuring and super helpful when we talked through behaviour, tantrums and sleepless nights. There’s so much information out there and it has been invaluable speaking to someone who sees your child in a different environment and observes how they respond to certain things. We decided together how best to handle challenging behaviour, so that we could be consistent at home and in childcare, as well as providing additional activities as our eldest was a very late walker.
What’s inspiring about your childminder?
Nicky gave up a high powered role because she felt called to care for children. She’s compassionate, driven to provide the best care (alongside her husband who works with her) and loves the children in her care.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of using a childminder for their children – what are the main benefits they will experience?
It’s important that you explore all your options. That includes contacting several different childminders and also asking for recommendations. It can be a relatively small network and it can help to ask around. Visit potential childminders and get to know them (as much as is possible) because, like anything, it may be that one ‘fits’ better for you than another. But essentially, it worked brilliantly for us because there’s considerably more flexibility, smaller group settings and a personal relationship with the person who will be looking after your child. They are able to take your child out and about more often and bring your child into an environment that feels like home. You pay by the hour and not by the session so are also less likely to lose out financially if you’re trying to do school runs or unusual hours.
What would you like to say to your childminder:
You were part of shaping our son into the young, confident boy he has grown into. I am eternally grateful for the love and care you showed him and our family. You made what was a tough decision so much easier and have become a friend in the process. Thank you for genuinely loving our child.
Why was choosing a childminder who is a member of PACEY important?
Nicky was a member PACEY and our experience was so positive, we then looked for the same when searching for our current childminder. It makes a significant difference knowing that there is a professional body to represent and support high quality childcare. It is also reassuring that, as a member, they also have a professional network and access to ongoing development which will always be an asset.
This post is part of our Childminder Day, a whole day dedicated to everything childminder: if you want to find out more about finding a childminder or becoming one, head over to our Facebook Group and search for ‘Childminder Day’. We also have more brilliant blogs on this very website: