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Good Childminder or not?

(19 Posts)
stk31 Mon 26-Oct-09 16:25:13

The nursery we took our 2 and a half year old ds to for 2 days every week was closing down soon, he had been going since about 4 months old, and due to the lack of nursery places around, we chose to take him to a childminder. We looked at several and chose a cm with a lovely 5 bed house, 2 boys of her own, one aged 2 and half, who we thought would be great for him to grow up with, the other 6 and at school.

Whilst at nursery he?s always been a very happy boy and got on well with everyone. Since being at the cm he is terribly unhappy when we drop him off,and continually so during the day. He has also made it the first thing he says to us every morning ?where are we going today??, if we say the cm he is very tearful and downright miserable, nothing we say or do distracts him from it. We?ve tried to talk to the cm about it but she never has any time, always got so much to do and cant stop and chat, even when we drop him off she takes him at the doorstep, when we pick him up he has his shoes and coat on already to go, its almost like we?re not allowed to see whats going on inside.

Every day for 5 days last week we asked her to find time to talk to us to work out what was wrong with him, she refused to speak to us until today. At the weekend we made up our minds it wasn?t working and that we would not be sending him to her any longer and we gave her the 4 weeks notice as per contract. Finally spoke to her today at which point she said our ds refused to interact with the other kids and was obviously too attached to his mother ! and would be more suitable to having a nanny at home where he?d be more comfortable in his own surroundings. She also made a point of mentioning she only ever has her quota of children ( without me bringing up the subject).

We think we did the right thing in removing him from this cm, do you agree?

She also wants us to pay her the 4 weeks notice, even though both parties are in agreement it?s too distressing for him to return during this period, is this what most people would expect as fair ? contractually so, but morally?.

We just feel its all about money and not about care in the slightest, how do other cm?s feel about this, is this normal behaviour?

said Mon 26-Oct-09 16:28:26

Oh, doesn't sound good at all. Think you're right to move him. I've used a lot of cms )all have been good) and I've always been made to feel welcome and that I could talk about anything whenever I needed to. Very opne house policy on collecting and dropping off - a lack of this is not good.

nannynick Mon 26-Oct-09 17:30:49

Sound like the right decision. Worth giving other CM's a go (if you can find any with places available) as your DS is used to other children having previously been at nursery.

Contract wise you said you gave her 4 weeks notice... so you need to pay that. Morally you may not feel it's right but it isn't a moral contract... it's a business contract - that's the way business works.

FABIsInTraining Mon 26-Oct-09 17:34:39

I think she doesn't have the time to settle him in because she has too many kids.

Never lets you in? hmm

Claireodon Mon 26-Oct-09 17:41:48

Sounds like you did the right thing as he was so unhappy. How did cm communicate to you what your ds did every day, what his mood was like, how he was settling in, etc given that she couldn't spare the time to speak to you? Did she have some type of daily diary? How long has your ds been with cm - has he gone over his contractual settling in period? I would say that if the cm did not bring to your attention that your ds was unhappy there or discuss how she was helping him to integrate prior to the end of the contractual settling in period (assuming she was not too busy to notice hmm) then it could be seen as morally wrong of her to charge 4 weeks notice.

stk31 Mon 26-Oct-09 17:42:20

Business contract sounds so harsh when you're talking about a very young unhappy child. It just makes it sound all the more like its about money and not about care.

We're not saying we're refusing to pay, was just wondering whether every other cm would charge the full amount in the same circumstances.

Wanderingsheep Mon 26-Oct-09 17:47:26

Sounds like you are right to move him. She isn't meeting his needs by helping him to settle in and interact with the other children.

It is a Childminder's duty to have a partnership with the parents and you should have been able to feel that you could talk to her about your son's development and how he was settling in etc.

stk31 Mon 26-Oct-09 17:49:49

Funnily enough in the 8 weeks he had been there we only really know on a few days what he did(4 week settling in period). Mainly when I collected him there were a couple of other parents collecting at the same time and although we often exchanged pleasentries amongst ourselves we were never introduced to each other, but with so much going on we were given virtually nothing in the way of feedback as to how he was. We did on most days get a text message after dropping him off letting us know how long he'd been crying for but that was all. On Wednesday last week I had to leave work at midday because ds was so upset she could do nothing with him to calm him down, that was until she mentioned I was coming to get him and then was much calmer and sat waiting in his coat and shoess bless him for half hour.

When we first went there we were told there would only be 2 other kids being minded during the day. Sounds like she forgot to mention the 5 or 6 after school though.

argento Mon 26-Oct-09 17:53:05

It is a business contract though - the CM is running a business!

nannynick Mon 26-Oct-09 18:36:54

Did you ask about if the CM cared for children before/after school? 2 other children during the main part of the day (say 9am-3pm) is to be expected. For a childminding business to be viable these days, the childcare places need to be filled for as much time as possible... so filling after-school places as well is to be expected. Yes the CM should have told you but only if you asked. You will know what to ask the next childcare provider (be they a CM or any other form of group childcare).

Sounds like this CM didn't communicate with you well, didn't cope that well with settling in your DS. Thus it is best that you move on to someone else, or to a different form of childcare.

A business contract existed when your DS went to nursery... what's harsh about calling it what it is? If the childminder fills the childcare place before the end of the 4-weeks notice period, they may give you a refund... but if the childcare place is still assigned to your DS, then it's paid for. Would have been the same at the nursery, wouldn't it?

Danthe4th Mon 26-Oct-09 18:45:22

Sounds like it just wasn't the environment suited to him, perhaps it was a bit too organised and structured, not having time to talk, coat and shoes on ready. He will have been used to a bit of routine but mainly child led play, which is what most cm's do. He may not have been comfortable with the after schoolers if he's not used to older children, but given time he probably would have settled but you've done the right thing if this childminder wasn't willing to speak to you.
Another cm should be willing to work with you, shame he can't go to a playgroup or shared care with a cm, that may suit him.
With regards to the contract I agree I think she is being unfair, but there is not much you can do about it, if it was me I would have gone out of my way to help your son settle and if it didn't work out I wouldn't have expected the 4 weeks, but we all work differently, so give someone else ago.

Summerfruit Mon 26-Oct-09 19:02:15

How come you ds doesnt have a diary ? That should be the minimum of communication between you and the cm. Also you should have had meeting with her to talk about the issues. I agree with everything which has been said previously. It should be a teamwork. I always say that to the parents when they first come and meet me, we are a team of 3 with all the same interest.. I had difficult children to settle and me and the parents WE worked very hard at fixing any potential issues and it worked !

Reg the notice, I think its normal you have to pay the 4 weeks unless she finds someone to replace your ds but still she has no obligation to do so. Now, if it was me and if I was in position to reach an arrangement (I mean if financially I could), I'll ask only for half the money.

stk31 Mon 26-Oct-09 21:33:40

We have never seen any diary, as previously mentioned, looking back now we hardly have a clue what he did every day, any chats we did manage to get with her seemed to have been more centred on how he was settling in as it had only been 8 weeks(16 days.

We feel quite embarrassed we did not push for more information,but every night our ds was asked in front of the cm what did he do today, and invariably got no response from her when he gave no real information.

It all seems too convenient that everyone turned up to collect at the same time making it hard for her to have any time to discuss anything with us, we tried numerous times to have chats outside of her work hours when she would have more time but she has a hectic social life also and we've not spoke formally once in 8 weeks about how he was doing. Which bear in mind he was becoming withdrawn and very unhappy should have made it even more important.

DeathbySummerfruit Tue 27-Oct-09 07:48:10

Well she doesnt seem very professionnal, the parents I'm working with wouldnt be happy if I was not providing some sort of daily communication. Do you know how she has been rated by Ofsted ? Anyway, you better off with another cm !

HSMM Tue 27-Oct-09 08:35:47

Not the way I childmind. Many parents drop off and pick up on the doorstep, but they all know they can come in whenever they like (even half way through the day if they want to). Sometimes they come in and play with their child for a while if I am still working. They all have a daily note of activities, food, sleep, etc - but not all childminders do this.

Re the 4 weeks notice - Yes, I think you should pay it - sorry.

stk31 Tue 27-Oct-09 09:30:28

We will pay the notice without question, we were sort of hoping she was going to mutually terminate the contract as she knew he wasn't happy and she admitted she could do nothing to help him, in my experience with our ds and many other children distraction is the key, take their mind off it with something else. We dont believe she could be bothered to help him settle.

We had not seen her Ofsted report until last night when we were informed where to find it by a friend - worryingly at the bottom it says this...

There has been one complaint since the last inspection. Concerns were raised on 8 October 2007 regarding the childminder’s partnership with parents. In order to investigate these concerns Ofsted carried out an unannounced visit. As a result of this visit an action was set to ensure that parents and carers are fully informed about the childminder's routines and childcare practices and they have opportunities to exchange information on a daily basis.

Should I make a complaint to Ofsted as it would appear someone else has had similar issues or should I just walk away. In making a complaint I believe she will know it was us and that would cause problems in a small town where everyone knows each other. Anyone know how complaints are dealt with and what information gets given to the cm?.

DeathbySummerfruit Tue 27-Oct-09 10:04:20

Sounds like she didnt change her way since 2007, which is bad. Should you complain ? I dont know, did you find another cm ?

vInTaGeVioLeT Tue 27-Oct-09 11:11:43

i'm sorry that you have had a bad experience with your childminder BUT you signed a business contract therefore you must honour it.
she doesn't sound like a good c/m TBH - check your contract because in mine i have a clause saying that both parties must find a mutually satisfactory time to discuss any problems/concerns i use a NCMA contract.

please don't be put off c/m's because of this though - most c/m's are friendly and caring to their mindee's BUT please never forget c/minding is our job and it is our business we do it for the money.

thebody Tue 27-Oct-09 13:31:28

just a quicki as my mindees asleep.. she sounds like she is in it for the money and cant be arsed imo. I do daily diaries and always have chats with parents at the end of the day,

I do put shoes on and we sit and read a story but this is to calm the children down and make them aware that mum or dad will be here soon, but I always welcome all parents into the playroom.

The children want to show parents what they have been playing with during the day and any art work that they have done.

tbh I must admit that at the end of the day the last thing I want is a parent staying too long as I am tired but I would never show it.

you have made the right decision, but am afraid I think any contract signed by anyone should always be honoured.

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