Childminding Blog: Mission Accomplished

Blog by Childminder Leigh Ann Gilmore

Hello Everyone!  My name is Leigh Ann and I have been a childminder since 2008.  Sometimes it feels like I just started a “few” years ago and, at others, I can’t remember ever having done anything else (I worked in admin for over a decade before my big career change).  To list everything I love about being a childminder would fill a short novel, so I will sum it up thusly:  Even on the toughest days, I still wake up every day loving what I do.  I mean, my job is basically playing in playgrounds, building snowmen (thank you, Big Snow of 2010, 2012, though we will not mention the Beast from the East), reading stories, building Lego, and basically being a big child.  The only difference is that I have to keep smallies safe and happy at the same time!  Oh, and remember to feed them too!

Speaking of feeding….. one of the biggest issues that comes up in discussions with other parents and childminders is around food.  They won’t stop eating, they won’t eat at all, they’re hungry, but they won’t sit still long enough to eat more than a few bites, to name just a few issues.  I don’t have a magic solution I’m afraid, but a little idea that I believe helps children enjoy the process of mealtimes (most of the time!), might be of use in your homes too.

Mealtime in my house equals story time.  I honestly can’t remember exactly when I started this.  I know it was only a couple of years after I started my childminding business, but I have noticed that the reactions are the same from all of the children I have minded over the years.  I lay out three or four books at meal times – a good variety (my house rivals the local library’s kids section!), the children sit up at the table and I read.  And yes, there were days I wish I’d been an octopus when I was still spoon-feeding one or two, but I somehow managed!

Here’s what I noticed when I read while the children are eating:

  • The children love listening to the stories and focus on that rather than wanting to jump down and play with toys
  • They still are attentive to eating, so they stop when they’re full (or still refuse to eat if they don’t like it!).  What is important here is they are not eating mindlessly, rather just being entertained while they happen to be eating
  • As they get comfortable in this routine of stories, they begin to request their own, talk about the book, fill in the words etc.
  • They develop a love of books and have their own favourite stories, but they also learn that they need to take turns listening to the choice of others too.
  • All of this, in my opinion, helps them to see mealtimes as a happy, relaxed, interactive occasion, much like adults when we eat together.

I have been told by parents, and by the children themselves when I’ve met them years later, that one of the things they remember most is the stories and books at my house.  As an avid reader myself, I can’t help but feel like “Mission Accomplished”.

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