Childminder Aideen Shares her Childminding Journey with us here...
My name is Aideen McCormack. Like you, I am a member of Childminding Ireland and have been childminding in my home for the past 18 years; what a journey it has been! When I began childminding back in 2002, I didn’t have a lot of experience and had no training. I was “a natural with children” owing to the fact that I became an older sister to twins when I was fourteen years old; however, I was not “a natural with parents” or at running a business.
I decided early on in my childminding career, to better equip myself to deal with any challenges that I may encounter, when working for/with children and their parents/guardians.
In 2004 I commenced a Fetac Level 5 Childcare course. I thoroughly enjoyed getting out once a week to meet like-minded people. We spent two years together learning, laughing and sometimes crying about the challenges that we encountered in our day to day lives as Childminder’s. We became great friends and provided the kind of support for one another that no-one else could; only we knew what it was like to spend each day working alone, loving and caring for other people’s children as though they were our own.
The experiences of gaining so much knowledge and such a good support system spurred me on to continue my learning Journey.
In 2006 I began studying in Mary Immaculate College Limerick and completed a level 7 in Early Childhood Care and Education over a three year period - part time. I then took a break from training for a number of years and focused on raising our family and work.
My children (Hannah and Martin) are seventeen and going on twenty now. My son Martin did his leaving cert in 2019 and Hannah was heading into Transition Year that September; a quiet year lay ahead or so I thought. Little did I know what we and the rest of the world were about to experience.
Anyhow, with a view to a quiet year ahead I decided to update my training in Early Childhood. I took part in the LINC (Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years) programme in 2019/2020 and I am currently finishing my BA - Early Childhood Teaching and Learning in Maynooth University.
So what have I learned? I have learned that we as Childminder’s, truly ARE unique! I know that we as a group have been saying this for years in our fight for recognition and respect at local and national level, and maybe I’m just catching up on those of you who already knew this with every fiber of your being, but for me, having studied policy and practice in early years settings across the world, I can honestly say that I value our profession more now than I ever have before.
We all know that children learn best when they are happy and secure and I know as I am writing this, that I am not telling any of you anything that you don’t already know. Where else, other than the family unit, would children and their families get the opportunity to build life long, secure and meaningful attachments in the way that they do in our childminding settings?
I am not for one minute down playing all of the great work being done in early year’s services throughout the country and across the world; I am simply saying that our services are unique. Home from home! Birth to fifteen years, and then some! Our children growing up together! Lifelong friendships, childminder/child, child/child, childminder/parent, parent/parent! Support, support, support! How lucky are the families that attend our services!
As part of my degree in early childhood teaching and learning, I have been tasked with completing a dissertation on a topic of my choosing in the early years. With my childminding experience, I hope to focus on using a family centered approach in practice to help all children to reach their full potential. In my opinion, there is no better setting than a childminding practice to demonstrate the value of working in partnership with parents and the wider community for the benefit of all children. Wish me luck and stay safe everyone!