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Questions to ask childminder

(12 Posts)
Focusfocus Fri 12-Jun-15 08:29:31

Hi wise MNers

DH and I are eating our first baby this autumn. We are doing shared parental leave for about 6 months and then from May next year the child would go to a childminders.

We posted all ts and more, in detail on childcare.co.uk and apologised for asking almost a year in advance and were contacted by about 6 minders, who, like us, were open to meet for a chat. Of these we chose 3 based on reviews and distance to go and meet and will be doing this over this weekend.

Can you help me figure out what questions we should be asking? Flexible drop in and pick up times is important as we both work in different counties and I specially have a long train commute depending on whether trains work ok!

Off the top of my head I can think of - timings, questions about food maybe, safety and security. Do help please,

Also if we really like someone is it okay for offer a deposit of some amount to secure a place? Otherwise we'd just be asking someone to hold a place for us with no guarantees?

Thanks for any advice!

Focusfocus Fri 12-Jun-15 08:30:50

Hmmm. DH and I do not eat babies. Just saying. We are simply having a baby. damnyouatoocorrect

hazelnutlatte Fri 12-Jun-15 08:41:41

Childminders will usually ask for a deposit to hold a place - and organising a place a year in advance is not unusual, our childminder currently has no spare places until Sept 2016!
I would ask about food - do they cook meals or will you need to send a packed lunch?
How many other children will be there? How many before and after school children? I didn't like the idea of my baby being taken on multiple school run trips every day.
Do they have space for outdoor play or do they go on trips outside to the park etc regularly?
How do they communicate with you? Our childminder does a daily diary so we know what my dd has been up to all day.
Holiday arrangements - how many weeks hol a year will they take, how far in advance will they let you know about holidays and do they charge for their holidays? Childminders will do this in different ways so when looking at the cost work out how much it will cost for the year rather than just looking at the hourly rate.
Hope that's helpful, for you. We met quite a few childminders and looked at nurseries too - we knew straight away when we had found the right person.

ChilliMum Fri 12-Jun-15 08:53:43

Hi focus, glad to hear you do not eat babies. I think you have the basics there but I would also ask questions about a typical day, what your child would be doing etc.

I assume you will be meeting them at their houses so you can ask to look at their play area, toys, if they belong to any groups or do regular trips activities, if your child will be happy to go there may not seem your priority now but when you have to peel a sobbing toddler from your leg and walk away it will become the single most important thing in the world.

My childminder belonged to a childminder group, they did regular activities together and they provided back up for each other in case of emergency sickness etc.. which was really helpful as I never needed to take time off due to a sick childminder.

To be totally honest though for us it was just a feeling. We knew as soon as we met her I can't really describe it but we felt so happy and comfortable in her presense and at her house. We had taken our child and he rarely went happily to other people (ebf mummy's boy ) but he was quite happy to crawl around and then sit and play with her while we asked questions etc.

I don't know about making a deposit though I guess you could just ask.

Focusfocus Fri 12-Jun-15 09:08:59

That's enormously helpful! Gosh, I hope I can refer to my notes while there without seeming rude!

kathryng90 Fri 12-Jun-15 10:16:45

Hi I have sent you a pm

Gusthetheatrecat Fri 12-Jun-15 10:26:57

I also asked potential CMs
- why did you become a childminder?
- what do you enjoy about it?
- what do you find most challenging?

I wanted these questions to give me a bit of insight into what she was like as a person, and it was really useful to hear the answers (def no right or wrong).
As with another poster, I went for someone who gave me a good gut feeling even though she didn't tick some of my boxes (slightly inconvenient location, no outside space). My gut was right! She has been a fabulous influence on my girls, we all love her unreservedly and she's now my youngest' godmother.

HRHQueenMe Fri 12-Jun-15 12:28:31

If you have set rules and Ideasas parents its important that you ask any potential childminder how they feel about things.for example As a CM I use TV and DVDs in moderation but some parents stipulate NO TV, so I would not be a good choice for such parents. I also prefer to supply all food so all the children eat the same meals, some parents want to supply food themselves. Some CM's need all food supplied. Worth thinking about and asking.

Jackie0 Fri 12-Jun-15 12:41:19

A couple of things
Where I live our child minding association advises not to take a deposit for a child that has not been born yet.
The visit with a prospective cm won't be like a job interview. The cm will have lots of questions and information for you as well.
It's helpful if they give you a fact sheet about hol pay , sick pay & policies about date protection , excludable illness and lots more..
Turn up, you sound lovely and I'm sure you would but I've been so shocked to hear from other cms recently about the number of no shows ,then they ring another one of us, we all know each other wink

Focusfocus Fri 12-Jun-15 13:02:49

This has all been really helpful - thanks both parents and childminders (who are possibly also parents!) - this is really so useful!!

Will print it all out!

Ternet Tue 30-Jun-15 13:42:10

A good Childminder will welcome your questionsl Ask to see the Policy Document, Training Certificates, Inspection Reports can be found online, Insurance and Public Liability. Ask about Fee structure, retainer and a positive approach.

boloriabullet Wed 01-Jul-15 12:50:44

Ask about a contract, this will include information on how fees are worked out, consent for days out/photography, policies and procedures and who to contact in an emergency for example. If they can't provide an example of one of those I'd be wary.

Ask about her holidays. A lot of childminders add up the weekly cost, multiply that by 48 (to account for 4 weeks Hol in the year) and then divide by 12 for a monthly cost. That means you will still 'pay' her when she is on holiday, but it's spread out over the year iyswim.

Ask her about the other children she's looking after. I went to see one who was registered with social services to provide emergency care. At the time I was visiting her she had an older child that had been removed from the family home for disruptive behaviour, I wasn't comfortable with that.

Go with your gut instinct!! X

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