Interview with Childminder Timi Tenczler by Lara Hughes
Childminder Timi has passion, creativity and flair in abundance so it’s easy to understand why the children she minds love to chant her name on the way to her house!
Timi started her career as an actress in theatres in Budapest, Hungary however her passion and love for children drove her to get a degree in pedagogy and to work in early year’s education, which she firmly believes is the most important period in a person’s development. When she arrived in Ireland, she continued working in both theatre and in preschools & creches. However, Timi wanted to go it alone using her own approach to childcare.
While house hunting three years ago, she found a little gem of a cottage in Rathfarnham in South Dublin and immediately felt it would be like a dream come true to set up her own childminding service there. Her love of nature and the environment are reflected in her home as there is a small wooded area in the back garden. She fondly calls her childminding setting ‘Imaginature’ – a place where Imagination meets Nature. She tries to spend as much time outdoors as possible, learning about life cycles, nurturing, and growing plants, creating art with nature while at the same time fostering an environmentally sound consciousness in the children.
Timi draws from her knowledge of Montessori, but she also uses many other methods like Freinet and Reggio. In addition, she uses techniques she learned from her Drama degree, like voice and breath control, role playing, yoga, brain dance. All of these are excellent activities to help with awareness, empathy, cooperation, and emotional intelligence. She believes that mindfulness is wonderful for children as it helps them to self-regulate and control their emotions which means calmer, happier children overall.
‘Keeping kids busy is the key to keeping them happy’ is a philosophy that Timi uses every day, and she is always on the lookout for new ideas. She finds Six Bricks Education is a great way for children to learn colours and to develop muscles and balance. Timi explains for example that children will build a tower with the bricks using their left hand and learn to balance yellow bricks on their hands and blue bricks on their heads.
Timi says that it is a joy to see what children create when she gives them materials she finds e.g. ribbons, curtain rings, buttons, cardboard boxes, sticks, stones, leaves, seeds everything can become a new toy that the children can make. One child who is particularly interested in science was delighted to create an erupting volcano from materials Timi supplied and which all the children loved. She also recalls how the children had endless fun recently, creating a live board game from twigs in her forest garden. They played for hours as they watched the twigs roll downhill. She also finds shells are a good material for children to paint and play with. These things reinforce that there is no need for fancy toys, as children are constantly in an imaginary state of mind and that anything can become a new world. Apart from specific Montessori toys which are all second hand, this approach fits with her reduce, reuse, and recycle philosophy. Timi also creates her own toys too and even makes Igloos, Spooky den’s, Ginger bread houses for the children from cardboard boxes and other recycled materials which delight the children no end!
For Timi childminding is a passion which comes from the heart, but she does recognise that it is a lonely job. She finds the Childminding Ireland members forum on Facebook a lovely community of childminders, who are always willing to support and help with any queries she has. This sense of community helps her to feel more connected to her peers which is important.
Best of luck to Timi and her team who have been selected as finalists at the Inspire Future Generations Awards 2023 – “Diversity in Action” category which takes place in London next week. Timi created an interactive art exhibition ‘Free the Birds’ which is for children affected by conflict around the world. Well done, Timi!
The Free Birds Workshop: