Blog by Becky Lynch
Parental Input and Documentation.
Parents give us the first insight into their child’s life so we can better understand how to care for that child. It is fundamental to have clear and open channels of communication with parents. When children start with any service including childminders, we depend on parents to provide us with vital information about their child’s personality and what their likes and dislikes are and things like age and if they have any allergies. If we have premade contracts which require the information, it will be easier to document. Sometimes parents forget to tell the childminder about certain things and sometimes the parents might choose not to share certain information. It is important to have a registration type form to capture essential information, this is also useful in case the childminder misses something that was discussed.
Further discussion with parents helps us to better assist the child with all aspects of their development. Its crucial parents share information like when the child learned to talk and walk, stand up and sit unassisted. This helps with language development and gross and fine motor skill development. Understanding how children deal with emotional and social situations will help the childminder enable the child to grow both emotionally and socially.
From very early on, anyone who worked with children and families understood how important it is to be able to work together. Principles and guidelines were designed by the NCCA National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. These were designed to assist professionals with all areas of childcare. They called the programs Siolta and Aistear, they have vast amounts of information to help with working in partnership with parents.
“Parents are the primary educators of the child and have a preeminent role in promoting his/her well-being learning and development” (2006, p6)
Everyday things need to be spoken about. If the child had a hard night because of teething or lack of sleep for one reason or another, the childminder should be told so they can plan accordingly for that day, allowing extra time for rest that might be needed because of the night before. If parents decide not to share certain information for fear that the minder will refuse to take the child, the only one that misses out is the child. The childminder will not understand how and why these behaviors are happening. If the child has a habit of biting or slapping or takes a while to settle to sleep or does not eat very well it is really beneficial to share this information.
At the same time, it is equally important for the childminder to inform the parents of their child’s day at home time. Parents love to hear about their child’s day. I find it is a nice touch to tell parents what we did for the day like going for a walk, colourng pictures, making jigsaws. Things like if they ate all their dinner and how much they drank. A brief report on nappies (if needed). Their sleep routine for that day will help parents set a bedtime at home.
Illnesses and notice
Illnesses can be a big issue for childminders. Upon registration of a new child, parents are informed what illnesses require the child to remain at home. Things like Chicken Pox and Vomiting Bugs, hand foot and mouth and conjunctivitis are illnesses that are highly contagious. Since the world grappled with Covid 19 this has never been more relevant. Most parents will have the best of intentions and if they know their child is not 100% fit and well, they will opt to keep them at home. However, it can be that people could be put under immense pressure from their workplace to continue working irrespective of their home situation and this puts everyone at risk. The childminder has a responsibility to inform parents of any changes to their child during the day. If a child develops a feverish temperature parents will be informed, and possible collection arranged for the child.
Make sure parents can feel comfortable expressing their concerns to you and that you are approachable and contactable at all reasonable times. You are not expected however to be contactable late at night or early in the morning. As a self-employed person, you must set a shut off time where it is not professional to contact or be contacted. I think from 9-10 pm until 7am should be non-contactable time unless in extenuating circumstances.
This would be most important for any arrangement to remain professional and fair, when registering with a childminder. In the contract the childminder should have their estimated holiday days and what each family might be entitled to use annually. Upon filing out paperwork both the parent and childminder will agree the number of days per week that the child will attend the service. It is positive for the child to have a consistent routine of days that they visit. It is also vital for the childminder to have set days with each child, to have a better working day and accommodate other families. Reasonable and agreed notice should be given by both parties in lieu of any changes. Good practice guidelines would suggest a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice but preferably 1 month should be the base where possible. It is not professional or fair to change arrangements with little to no notice. It can damage the working relationship and lead to resentment.
The contract should include fee charges for the service and any other information for transparency. For childminders this is their business and the main source of income for most, they depend on their salary. We understand how difficult it is for parents to pay their childcare fees and they can be crippling for many so families. Childminders often charge 5 euros or less per hour or use a daily rate.
It all comes back to value and respect. If people respect the childminder and value, the service they provide for their children it works so much better. Childminders choose this career because they love children and enjoy watching them grow and flourish. The financial aspect is usually not the main reason, as some start childminding to be able to care for their own families. It shouldn’t mean that it is viewed not as important as other career choices. When you think about it childminders care for the most precious things in the world. The future generation.