Choosing a childminder

Childminder looking after children

You’ve done your research, come up with a list of possible candidates and checked their Ofsted reports. Now comes the difficult bit…

When you visit potential childminders, it’s good to go along with a list of prepared questions. So before visiting, you should have a fair idea of what you’re looking for and the sort of childminder that you ideally would like. This will make the selection process a lot easier.

The things that are important to you should also be important to the carer that you choose – if diet, flexibility and education are key factors for you, for example, be sure to ask a lot of questions in those areas.

What should I ask when I visit a potential childminder?

We’ve compiled a list of questions Mumsnetters recommend you should ask prospective childminders:

  • How long have you been working with children?
  • What training have you had?
  • Do you have up-to-date first aid training?
  • Have you got a food hygiene certificate?
  • Why do you enjoy being with children?
  • Can I look around the house and see the rooms and outside play space?
  • If there’s no outside play space, how will you ensure my child gets to go outside?
  • Where can my child rest or have a nap?
  • What kind of food and drink will you provide?
  • How do you encourage good behaviour?
  • Will my child be with a regular group of children? How old are they? What’s their timetable like?
  • How will you communicate with me about how my child is getting on?
  • What hours do you offer?
  • How much do you charge?
  • What happens if my child is sick?
  • What do you do in an emergency?
  • When was your last Ofsted inspection? May I see the report?
  • Can I see your contracts and record forms?

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) also has the following suggestions for things to ask:

  • How long have you been a childminder?
  • Why did you become one?
  • Are you a member of PACEY?
  • In what ways do you meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage?
  • Can you describe a typical childminding day and week?
  • What are your policies on behaviour management?
  • Who do you have your public liability insurance with?

Other things to observe when visiting the childminder:

  • Do the children seem calm, safe and happy together?
  • Is the childminder listening to them and answering carefully?
  • Are the premises clean, well-kept and safe?

This list could go on for ever and you won’t be able to cover everything, but the questions above should give you food for thought and a starter for 10.

Above all, trust your instincts about childcare – you know your child best, and what will suit one child won’t necessarily suit another, so look for a fit that feels good to you.