Choosing a Childminder
With more and more mums and dads finding that they need to get back to work sooner rather then later to help keep the bills paid on time, the issue of child care is becoming ever more important. With so many nursery places filling up, people are returning to the idea of a childminder to look after their children when they can’t be with them.
Using a childminder has certain advantages to it, often they are looking after fewer children then would be attending a nursery or playgroup, allowing them to have more “one-on-one” time with your child, it also means that children of more then one age group can be cared for, allowing siblings to be cared for together.
Childminders are also able to deal with the specific needs of disabled children better, again because they have smaller groups of children to care for at any given time. As the often work from their own homes, their hours are often more flexible then other forms of childcare, giving parents cover over weekends if needed and throughout the school holidays.
If you are looking to choose a childminder, then the best place to start is asking around the parents that you know, see who they use and can recommend – don’t be swayed into using your bosses aunt, even if she is a qualified childminder, it is your child, and therefore has to be your choice who cares for them in your stead.
If you find yourself drawing a blank, you can contact your local family information centre and ask for a list of registered childminders who have places available, they may also be able to give you extra information like if the minder has pets, a garden or children of their own.
If your child is of school age, you may be able to find out about childminders in your area from the headmaster or mistress, or other member of staff.
It is important when you meet your potential childminder to keep some questions in the back of your mind, the answers of which will help you determine if they are the right childminder to be caring for your child.
These might include:
- How long they have been a childminder?
- Are they a member of the NCMA?
- Why they decided to become a childminder?
- What qualifications and training they have completed?
- How many children are in their care, what ages are they and how long they have been clients?
- Do they have any pets or children of their own?
- What are the policies regarding meals and snacks?
- What do they regard as unacceptable behaviour in the children they look after and how do they deal with it?
- How do they ensure that the child’s individual needs are met?
- Do they have the appropriate childminder insurance?
- Do they take the children out anywhere?
Also don’t be afraid to ask to see certification for qualifications and insurance, you have to be sure you are leaving your child in good hands. Choosing a childminder is probably one of the most important decisions you will have to make in your child’s early years, with the information above, you will be better equipped to make the right choice for you and your child.