Childminders: Myths and Stereotypes

Society has always had, and sadly still appears to have a negative view of Childminding as a profession. It appears that childminders are considered to be a less ‘professional’ childcare option than nurseries, nannies and other early years settings. Despite qualifications, regulations and OFSTED Inspections and gradings being obtained in the same way as other early years settings. Childminders are legally bound to follow and observe the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum just as nurseries and pre-schools.

PACEY (Professional Association for Children and Early Years) released the following article on myths about childminders in the UK: https://www.pacey.org.uk/news-and-views/pacey-blog/may-2017/get-the-facts-on-childminder-myths/#.WRKv0DeaERw.facebook

The fact that society as a whole, still frequently believes these myths is not only troubling for childminders, but these myths are also impacting the way in which prospective parents view childminders too, and with the introduction of the 30 Hours Free Childcare, early years settings are fit to burst, whilst some childminders are struggling to survive on the new Government initiative.

As practitioners who both started their careers in the private nursery sector, we see first-hand the stark contrast between nurseries/preschools and childminding settings, and the benefits of choosing a childminder. The spontaneous (as well as planned)  learning that we are able to provide, the outings and events we experience with the children simply can’t be recreated to the same level in a nursery setting. We feel so lucky every day to be in the current position and profession we are in, and using our combined years of experience, knowledge and qualifications to adapt our practice within a home-based childcare setting in order to meet the individual needs of our children as well as creating a personal, yet professional bond with our parents/families.

As the ‘Childminder VS Nursery’ debate shows no sign of slowing down, we spoke to a parent, Hannah Mayes, who has first-hand experience of both a nursery and a childminder as a childcare option for her children, and how these two provisions differ. Here’s what she had to say:

“When I was looking for childcare for my son 6 years ago, I was 18 and thought a nursery 17796429_594439140765145_3733851905755913680_nwas my only option – I had no idea what a childminder even was! I think the ease of finding a nursery (there are so many!) and the assumption that it’s just what you do makes them the first option of childcare. But I think if people were more aware of the other childcare options available, a childminder would be an easy choice for so many parents. 

I think there is an assumption that childminders are more expensive and you have to provide them with more, unlike a nursery who has and provides it all. Similarly, I also assumed that childminders were only used for school pick-ups and after school care.

I also felt there was a lack of a ‘personal’ touch and a sense of community within a nursery, but ultimately I know that my son’s keyperson put his needs first above anything else and he was generally well looked after throughout his time there. My son attended a nursery from 18 months old until he left for school, however, I opted to choose a childminder for my second child.

Initially, I too had a negative opinion of childminders, as I became more aware of childminders as a childcare option, I (unfairly) assumed that they were just mothers who looked after their own children, and assumed that there would be no learning involved; the TV would be on whilst the childminder went on with her daily life/housework etc. I also wrongly assumed that childminders had no qualifications and that childminding was just a ‘job’. However, I know now with my current childminders that most home-based childcare providers are more than qualified to do what they do, they just wanted to have the freedom to use their experience and qualifications in a smaller, more personal environment. 

I chose a childminder for my daughter mainly because I wanted her to have more 1:1 care and to not feel like she was one of a crowd. I wanted her to have a method of care that replicates what she would have at home; discipline, spontaneity, set backs and to experience learning in a more casual yet effective way.  I wanted O to feel like she has a voice and to have it listened to. I also wanted her to have experiences of ‘real life’, not just the set up role play life of a nursery. Something that was important for me was for O to have “Aunty Clo” and “Aunty B” and to feel like she was part of a family as an extension of our own, not like a school or busy nursery environment.

Ultimately, I know that O now has all of those things I wished for within a home-based childcare setting, and I hope soon that childminding as a profession gets the recognition it deserves as I have seen first hand that it is a genuine and viable childcare option that my daughter is thriving from being a part of.” 

Here at Pebbles Childcare, we hope that by raising the profile of childminding through our practice, publicity and sharing our knowledge and experiences with other professionals, practitioners and parents, soon childminding will become not only an attractive childcare option, but also a career path too.

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