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Discuss everything related to paid childcare here, including childminders, nannies, nurseries and au pairs.


What do I look for when choosing a childminder?

19 replies

QE2 · 06/02/2006 19:05

I have a list of minders to phone as I am starting a training course in a few weeks. dd had a minder once but that was 14 years ago now....

What sorts of things should I look for and ask when I visit?


OP posts:

Kidstrack2 · 06/02/2006 19:11

You are looking for child freindly, smiley person that is welcoming to children, asking what sort of activities they do and what outings they go on. Maybe ask what policies they have in place etc


QE2 · 06/02/2006 19:36

policies? for what? do you mean for disciplline?

OP posts:

katymac · 06/02/2006 19:39

Food, behavior management, sickness, safety, emergancies etc

Alibubbles has a great list of Q's to ask

I'll find it & post it


katymac · 06/02/2006 19:40

Here they are - it might be worth printing them out to take with you

copyright Alibubbles

How long have you been working with children?

What training have you had? Any qualifications? Are you part of a network, achieved a quality assurance qualification, look at registration certificate, insurance details, business use for car. First aid must be no more than 3 years old, food hygiene certificate, Certificate in Childminding practice or NVQ 3, Contracts and record forms

Do you enjoy being with children and why?

Can I look around, see the rooms and outside play space? If there is no outside play space - how will you make sure my child gets the chance to play outside?

Where will my child rest?

What kind of food and drink will you give? Can I see a menu?

What will my child do all day?

How do you encourage good behaviour?

Will my child be with a regular group of children? How old are they? How will their timetable fit in with my child?

How will you make sure I know how my child is getting on?

What hours is she open?

How much does she charge?

What about when my child is sick, holidays, days off

What do you do in an emergency?

When was her last Ofsted, can you see the report?

Top 10 Quality Pointers

When you visit possible childcare options, look for these Quality Pointers:

Are the children calm, safe, happy and busy?

Do children play and talk together?

Is the childminder listening to the children and answering them carefully?

Is the childminder friendly and proud of her work?

Is she joining in joining in with what the children are doing?

Are there lots of fun activities planned to help children learn and play? Can children plan some of these activities themselves?

Are there plenty of clean toys and equipment for children to use?

Is the premises clean, well kept and safe for children with a fun outside play area (or will the child go to parks and other places regularly)?

Do parents have plenty of chances to say what they want for their children?

If there are other things you want to know, don't be afraid to ask. Good childminders expect you to ask questions and will be happy to answer them.

Always take up references. You could ask for names of other parents to talk to about the service

Listen to your child and find out more if he/she is unhappy
Always trust your own feelings about your childcare - you know your child best


QE2 · 06/02/2006 19:59

oh wow thank you - that looks really useful, thanks for doing it katymac, you're a star!

OP posts:

threelittlebabies · 06/02/2006 21:02

Slight hijack, this list is excellent! Am in same boat QE2 (pardon the pun), hope you find someone you like. I had someone recommended, but she is full and has recommended someone else, which I am slightly nervous about


uwila · 06/02/2006 21:28

Do you have cover if you are sick or otherwise unavailable to take my child?

How much holiday do you take each year? Will you arrange for another registered childminder to look after my child whilst you are away fo the same hours and pay tha tI normally give to you? How much notice will you give me for holiday?

Do I need to provide food?

Where will my child ride in your car (front seat is off limits for me)?

How sick is too sick for my child to come to your house? Fever? Throwing up? How long after throwing up does she/he need to stay home?

Can I have three references from other parents?


Isyhan · 07/02/2006 08:14

Im not registered yet but I would be a little concerned if parents expected me to have found other childcare for the mindee in order to go on holiday. i will let parents know very far in advance when Im going to take 4 weeks at no cost to them leave but Im certainly not going to say I will make their arrangements because what if they keep saying 'no that person wont do' do I then cancel my family holiday.


agalch · 07/02/2006 08:22

I have two friends who are registered who will if their numbers allow provide holiday cover.I give parents the phone numbers and if they want to use them fine,if not it's their problem to sort something out.I would not expect to cancel a holiday for them!!


uwila · 07/02/2006 09:06

Isyhan, I think if you just recommend someone, and provide the registration details and then give the parent a contact, that's fair enough. If the parent then says no not good enough. Then I think the parent needs to pick up the ball and find somewhere.

When I used a childminder, she had several friends who were childminders and she would give me the registration and offer that I could call them to meet them, and I would just pay them instead of her. It was a great service she offered.

If you are just starting out it might take a while for you to establish this network but it is a big plus to parents.


ayla99 · 07/02/2006 09:22

Isyhan, when I take holiday I find out which other cms near me have space so I can give parents another option. I do say that this is not a recommendation - being self employed cms have different policies, attitudes, routines etc. Its up to the parent to decide if my suggestion is appropriate for them, if not they must find their own alternative carer or take time off work.

I give several months notice of holidays so I wouldn't cancel my holiday if parents couldn't find someone suitable.


Isyhan · 07/02/2006 09:35

Oh yes id be happy to do that but I wouldnt want the full responsibility for arranging it. Most people would play fair but some may take advantage if your holidays inconvenient. I may just be cinical!!


ThePrisoner · 07/02/2006 20:03

I would only give out details of substitute childminders that I was perfectly OK with anyway, although it is obviously still up to the parents to choose.


KateF · 07/02/2006 20:15

My childminder meets up with a couple of others weekly for play sessions so my dd is familiar with the other childminders and they cover for each other which I really appreciate.
I think you will get an instinctive feeling about whether a childminder is right for your child when you see them together. I am very lucky-my childminder is one in a million. She genuinely loves being with dd and dd is very fond of her. One thing I would stress is that it's important to discuss discipline as you need to back each other up on behaviour and rules.


QE2 · 07/02/2006 20:51

I have just phoned a lovely lady and am meeting with her on Monday. Spent half an hour chatting on the phone, she seems really nice.

Should I see another one or two and then decide do you think?

OP posts:

KateF · 07/02/2006 21:01

I saw one before meeting my current childminder but just didn't feel she was right so followed up another recommendation which turned out to be the right one for us. I just knew she was right so didn't see anyone else. I would see how it goes on Monday-if you're not sure see a few others.


rummum · 07/02/2006 21:06

when my daughter went to a childminder, I liked the first one I met straight away, but family said I should still meet 2 more childminders to compare... I did and I still went with my first one... maybe see another couple to compare.. but you will know when you meet the right one..
still see her out and about now, and we always stop and chat...

ps... pmsl at QE2.. in the same boat.. sorry can't remember who said it....


katymac · 07/02/2006 22:10

If someone comes to visit me I always suggest that they visit at least 2 other minders - it's a very important decision and must be right for you and your children


threelittlebabies · 07/02/2006 23:27

QE2- must be the day for it, I rang the recommended lady and am meeting her on Thursday. She has a ds same age as mine and a dd a few months younger, and our sons have the same name and will hopefully be startin in the same nursery in Sept! And she's doing the same course as me, at the college where I work, small world hey! Hope she is nice. Must remember all my questions...

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