Two Can Learn Better than One!

Category: Childminders and Childminding



CRB Checks Changed!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Family, Childminders and Childminding

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It has been reported that since the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks were introduced, more than 1,500 people have been wrongly given criminal records - the Government checks are designed to protect vulnerable people, but countless errors have been logged.

Questions have always been asked about whether the CRB system was really effective. Parents were being banned from car sharing with friends, and attending school plays and sports days if they weren’t checked, people were losing their jobs if they refused to be investigated and clubs were being forced to close because the cost of registering all their helpers was too much to afford.  CRB checks also did little to prevent child abuse scandals such as that which took place at the Little Ted's Nursery in Plymouth.

The CRB, a Home Office agency, was set up in March 2002 to check for criminal convictions, cautions and reprimands with regards people working with children or vulnerable adults. It processes some 3.9 million CRB certificates each year.

However, a new bill has been announced which will mean changes to this scheme and some of the nine million people who work or volunteer with children will no longer need to have a criminal records check under the new proposed Protection of Freedoms Bill.

Part of the bill also dictates that thousands of innocent people will have their DNA records removed from the national DNA database. There will also be regulations of CCTV cameras and regulations regarding Councils being able to examine people’s rubbish bins in order to investigate claims.

The changes aim to hand back some civil liberties taken away by the previous Labour government and operate a more “common sense” approach.



Finding a Nanny

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Babies, Parenting, Preschool Children, Family, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: childcare, childminder, crb check, nanny, totallychildcare

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What overall considerations should I have to find the perfect Nanny for my family?

Looking for a Nanny for your family does not have to be a struggle. Below are 6 points to hopefully help you make the process easier.

1: Think about your ideal nanny. Write a list of your expectations. What personality and experience you would like your Nanny to have? What duties you would like her to do, for example Nursery duties only or light household duties. Write your requirements down - including "required" and "Would like", use this when you are interviewing as a guideline. Work out what you can afford for a nanny so when you discuses salary with the Nanny you have an idea what you can afford.

2: Look at what avenues you are going to go down to look for a nanny. Are you going to use a Nanny Agency, advertising in a local Newspaper, ask friends and family if they know of any good Nannies or search on the internet? More and more families are using the Internet to find Childcare as they are finding it is a much cheaper alternative. All the above have advantages and disadvantages, but all have the same objective: to help you compile a list of potential Nannies.

3: Make contact with potential candidates. Once you have got your list of potential candidates, you will need to find out weather they are interested and suitability for the position. First contact might be by phone or email not face to face. Once you have made contact and asked some question and are satisfied by the answers, you will need to arrange an interview date.

4: Interview date. Don’t forget your list of "required" and "would like". You will need to make a list of questions you would like to ask a Nanny, (Totally Childcare has got a list of question to ask when interviewing a nanny). Most families prefer to do the first interview in the evening when the child/children are in bed and if they like the Nanny then call her back for a second interview, this is normally done over the weekend to meet the children and spend some time together to see how they interact with each other.

5: Checking Reference and CRB (Police Checks). It is highly recommend that you check at least two references, one from the current employment if they are working as a nanny at present and one from a past employment. If they have not got two employment references for you to contact then a character reference will do. A CRB (police check) needs to be done, this can take up to 4/6 weeks to complete. Most nannies have got this already but if this is out of date a new one will need to be done.

6: Employing your chosen Nanny! Once you have found the right Nanny and offered the position and she has accepted the finer details will need to be put down in a Contract of Employment (Totally Childcare has got a standard Employment Contract which you can download and use). This will need to be signed by both parties and each have a copy to keep. Most families have a hand over period before they go back to work; this is so the Nanny can get to know the child/children while mum or dad is still around. It also helps the nanny to see what routine the children have and if they got to school they can be shown where this is and be introduced to their teacher. Contact numbers will need to be given to the new nanny in case of an emergency. A diary for the nanny is a good idea, here she can write down what the child/children have done during the day, what they have eaten and if they have had or not had a dirty nappy etc. This can be helpful for the parents to read when the Nanny has gone home and answer any questions if the child/children is not too happy in the evening. A purse with some money in it for use during the day for the children’s activities is also a good idea, receipts should be provided so there is no confusion as to what they have spent the money on.

If you can remember all of the above steps than hopefully finding a Nanny will be an easy process.

http://www.totallychildcare.com/



Printing and Learning About Shapes

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Kids Activities, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: colours, painting, printing. toucanlearn, shapes

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So often activities that the children enjoy doing can be beneficial in different ways besides them having fun. They may think they are just having some painting time but in fact they are learning about other things too. In the activity below, they are practicing their painting and printing skills, but learn all about shapes and numbers too with a little guidance.

Prepare an area for painting.  Find some cookie cutters that are simple shapes (square, circle etc.) or some plastic shapes from a shape sorter.  You could use household recycling such as kitchen roll tubes, the ends of small boxes or plastic pots.  Put some different coloured paint into 6 different shallow dishes and place a shape into each one ready to go.

Ask your child to do some  printing with the shapes  Encourage them to do it neatly, in rows, so the shapes can be easily identified.  When they have done a few, then suggest they do an abstract piece of art and drag the shapes, mix the colours and over print the shapes to make something of their choice.  Ask them what the picture is?  Is is a sunset over hills; is it a dinosaur on the beach?  Keep a note of their explanation on the back of the picture.

When all the pictures are dry, have a chat about the shapes  and ask some questions.

  • Which is the square?
  • What is the yellow shape called?
  • How many circles are there?
  • Which is the biggest shape?
  • Which has most sides?
  • How many blue shapes are there?

Count and answer the questions together first and then see if your child can do it alone.  Display the picture and practice each time you pass by.

Learning can be so much fun and so easy!  For lots more ideas for activities, and explanations about learning for parents and childminders, go to ToucanLearn!



English As A Second Language

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Child Development, Family, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: billingual, communicating, english, language, speaking

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There are so many children and toddlers for whom English is not their first language; when it comes to observing these children in a childcare setting, whether it be a nursery or childminders, it is very easy for the carer to suggest that when it comes to communication, that the child has"no language".  In fact, they do have a language, its just they are not using it or English in the setting, so carers need to be careful in these circumstances.  Children need to be encouraged in both languages when they are little to avoid problems of alienation and isolation.

Why should parents, carers and teachers encourage bilingual children?

  • It means the child usually knows about 2 cultures, 2 sets of traditions and 2 sets of rules for speaking
  • It means they may be confused about different words or phrases which are used in different situations
  • They can be scared to take chances when it comes to speaking or answering questions
  • Making friends may be harder or even impossible if the other children can communicate more easily
  • It may make the children more inclined to listen carefully and think about things or answers to questions even if they do not actually speak or contribute; they may still know the answer

How to help:

  • Be calm and patient.  Don't expect them to speak with the same confidence as children where English is the first language
  • Allow them to listen and observe  before addressing them with a question
  • Speak to them just the same as you would other children; look into their eyes and address them with warmth and clarity; move your mouth to create the words and don't speak until you make eye contact
  • Point and gesticulate too and use sign language to help communicate
  • Sing lots of songs and rhymes together
  • Keep any setting quiet and calm so everyone can hear well and communicate without shouting

Children learning more than one language at a time do generally start speaking a little later, but in the long term, but this does not mean that they will never learn to talk.  In the medium term they will rapidly grasp both languages and they will have a beneficial skill that will put them in a strong position throughout their lives!



How to Find a Baby or Toddler Group

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Babies, Parenting, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: baby group, church hall, nct, support, toddler groups

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Joining a baby or toddler group when you have your first baby can be one of those life saving moves!  Just as you are getting over the extraordinary experience of your first birth, and you are trying to return to a normal life, but suddenly find this dependent little thing everywhere you turn, life can become a little overwhelming.  Find a local group and start meeting and mixing with other mum's and baby's, and you will find a supportive community and quickly make a host of new friends.

There are bound to be toddler and baby groups in your area - you may never have even considered there existence, but they really are all around you!  Here are some ways to find a group near you:-

  • Contact the NCT, they run groups all over the country and you may not have to be a member to attend
  • See whether there are any groups in local church halls and community halls, you'll spot notices in the halls and they should have contact details with them
  • Search on the internet to see if you can find a group near you
  • Look for a local childminding group and then ask the organiser or members for information, they will most likely know what goes on locally to you
  • Contact your local council for a list of local groups
  • Make enquiries at hospital before you leave or ask your midwife - maternity wards usually have a noticeboard with information about local support groups and other services on offer to new mum's

If you really can't find a group near you, or you can't find one that suits you for whatever reason, you could even start your own!



A Sense of Touch

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, senses, textures, toucanlearn, touch

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Here are a few ways to introduce the sense of touch to children with appropriate EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) areas of learning and development  included.

  • Go On Safari... round the house to find things that feel different.  The Cool window, the smooth door, the furry teddy the soft blanket.  Have a chat about how things feel.
  • EYFS: This promotes exploration and investigation, using language for communication.
  • Create a textured painting... add various ingredients to poster paints and get the children to have go at painting with different textures.  Try adding flour, lentils, sand, broken spaghetti and you'll get some great results.
  • EYFS: This promotes being creative and exploring media and materials.
  • Touchy-Feely box... take a few items that feel different such as pine cone, washing up brush, length of ribbon, necklace, spoon etc and ask your child to feel it, describe it etc.
  • EYFS: This promotes exploration and investigation and language for thinking.
  • Texture Book... get some different paper, fabric or things you can stick together to form a book.  Newspaper, tissue paper, soft fabric, cotton wool, silver foil could all be stuck securely to pages and bound with string or wool to create a great book.
  • EYFS: This promotes being creative and exploring media and materials.
  • Messy Activity... the ultimate way to feel and touch is to get really messy!  Try doing some hand and feet painting and get the children to describe how the wet, cold, sticky paint feels!  They will love it!
  • EYFS: This promotes being creative and exploring media and materials.

There are so many more activities like this at http://www.ToucanLearn.com, where learning is fun for you and your little one!

 



Stay Informed with ToucanLearn

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Parenting, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: childminder, daily diary, early years foundation stage, eyfs, feedback, progress, record, toucanlearn

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We've progressed a long way from the Victorian days when children were best kept our of sight and out of mind, but the sad truth is that modern living often means that your children spend more time with a childminder than they do with you. Are you kept informed of how your children are doing, and do you have a good idea of their progress?

The government's Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requires for child minders, carers and nursery teachers actively to keep records of every child's progress. Make sure that you are getting the level of information you want about your children and how they are developing.  If you aren't hearing enough, then ask for more - if you feel your childminder is being too diligent, then they will be delighted to be asked to reign back a bit and tell you just what you want to hear!

At ToucanLearn, every child receives their own Daily Diary designed especially for childminders to share information with parents.  By sharing the Daily Diary you can stay informed about what your children are doing every day.  This service can be used for free, but premium members can also upload photos to keep a photographic record of everything they do too.

We know from feedback that we receive about our service that many parents are able to view what their children are doing throughout the day - they can see pictures of new artwork once it has been uploaded, and they can read what their little ones are making, doing and eating during the day.  Here at ToucanLearn we're dedicated to helping working parents share as much information about their children as they can.  If you don't feel you are getting the information you want from your childminder, why not ask them to start posting a Daily Diary in ToucanLearn?  Our FREE service means they don't even have to spend a penny to do so!



Communication Problems

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Learning Play, Preschool Children, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, communication, i can, interaction, listening, talking

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Research suggests that of all the children in reception classes in UK schools, nearly half of them have poor language skills. This is an astounding figure and Early Years Practitioners are doing so much to attempt to help those children with their language and communication.  The difficulty is not helped by the fact that children coming from nursery into schools are all at different levels of speech and communication so each child may need slightly different emphasis when it comes to helping their individual needs.

Communication is vital in various areas of development within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).  Communication is a two way process and we must listen as well as talk.  Communication between children themselves is also important because if one child cannot be understood, it can lead to further problems and frustrations.

ICAN (the charity that supports speech and communication) claims that over 2.7 million children have difficulties communicating. There are various ways that teaching practitioners can assist with general group activities as well as individual attention.

How to improve communication with general group activities:

  • Make sure there is lots of interaction between childcare providers and children
  • Practice listening skills between both children and teaching staff
  • Introduce rhymes and songs and tell stories
  • Use props such as pictures and puppets and musical instruments, talk about them and describe them
  • Teach signing actions in groups
  • Introduce discussion topics and games


Equal Weighting in EYFS areas may change!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: areas of learning, changes, eyfs, talking, weighting

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It has been suggested by Jean Gross, Communications expert and adviser to the EYFS Review, that the equal weighting given to the areas of the EYFS may do better if it were changed.

Currently the six areas of learning and development are given equal weighting throughout the age range it covers.

  1. Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  2. Communication, Language and Literacy
  3. Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy
  4. Knowledge and Understanding of the World
  5. Physical Development
  6. Creative Development

However, there is talk of changing the weighting especially in the younger age ranges.  Perhaps there should be an increased emphasis in the personal, social and emotional development and the communication and language areas.

Ms Gross has in he past spoken about the importance of bonding and attachment between babies and their parents and the value of talking to your baby!  ToucanLearn agrees and as our activities with babies demonstrate, there is so much you can do to start the "conversation" and bonding with your babies by simply chatting to them.  They can't speak back to you, or contribute to a conversation, but they look, watch and listen and learn as you talk to them and involve them in your life!  This can only be a good thing!

More research will follow and decisions will be made as to how, if at all, EYFS will change.



EYFS - Is It Here To Stay?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Preschool Children, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: areas of learning and development, eyfs, government, institute of education, toucanlearn

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The Institute of Education says that there is huge support for the Early Years Foundation Stage among early years practitioners following a study carried out by the Government to assess the popularity of EYFS among the groups of people working within the framework. It seems the majority of people who work with children are very happy with the framework and the guidance that the EYFS provides. Great changes are not required.

The Areas of Learning and Development were seen as largely appropriate although teachers did note that the focus seemed to be on numeracy, literary and communication rather than social, personal and emotional goals.

Assessing children, especially the younger ones, was also seen as difficult and following development of each child was not always deemed appropriate.

We hope that for all childminders, services such as ToucanLearn help!  If you aren't already signed up to our EYFS activity programme, sign up FREE now!



Get the Children Moving!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Kids Activities, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, beans game, physical games, pre-schoolers, toddlers

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It may be getting colder outside, and play parks are wet and grass waterlogged, but there are some fun activities you can do inside even if you have limited space.  Try this easy game on your own, with friends or at your toddler or childminding group and see how much fun you all have!

Beany Fun!

This is a great game for toddlers and pre-schoolers.  You simply start them all walking around the room and you call out different type of beans.  The children have to assume the appropriate pose as quickly as they can!  You can choose from:

Runner Bean - the children have to run on the spot.

Broad Bean - they have to stand with their hands and legs as wide apart as they can.

Chilli Bean - they must shiver and pretend to be cold.

French Bean - they have to stand with one hand on their hip and say, "Oh, la, la!"

Baked Bean - they have to curl up like a tiny baked bean.

String bean - they have to all join hands.

Thin Bean - they must stand straight with their arms up high above their head.

Jumping Bean - they must jump around.

Frozen Bean - they freeze and stand perfectly still.

You could do it when walking in the woods or on the way to school or anywhere you need to distract them on a journey.  If you're in the car, try it with just your fingers!

Have fun!



Spending Time Away from Parents Can Be A Good Thing!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Child Development, Preschool Children, Family, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: childcare, childminder, effects, nursery, relationships, research, separation

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Sending your child to a childminder or nursery may actually help them in later life, according to a recent study.  Many working parents hesitate before sending their children to a carer, wondering how the separation will effect the child in later life.  However, according to one academic it does them good to be away from home for a few hours!  So, parents working long hours need not worry.  Mothers returning to work, need not feel guilty!

The Professor in charge of the study claims that those children who were in a cared for environment aged 2 and under, do actually go on to form better relationships later on when at school.  She said that nursery does the vast majority no harm at all.  Previous studies had concluded that children who were not at home most of the time when under 2 turned out to be more agressive when attending school, were more difficult to disipline and more inclined to be naughty and lead others astray.  But this new research disputes that, stating that this doesn't appear be the case.

The study followed 3,000 children over a 14 year period from 1996.  Parents have welcomed the findings, many of whom had believed earlier studies which suggested that there was a link between attendance at a nursery and aggression in later life, plus impaired social skills.

Of course, there are various ways of ensuring your child is in the best possible setting. Speak to other parents - get their opinion and recommendations.  Check thoroughly the standards of care whether it be a nursery or childminder.  Drop in, unannounced, and see what is going on!



Can You Tell If Your Child Is Really Happy?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health, Child Development, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: children, happiness, happy, moods, personality, sad, toddler

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A happy child plays, exhibits curiosity, shows an interest in things and other children; an unhappy child tends to need constant attention, they are withdrawn, quiet, and don't eat much.  They tend not to get involved with other children and don't ask questions or speak very much.  However, if you have a shy child who doesn't interact a great deal, that does not mean they are unhappy.  Being shy is not being sad.

P. Hollinger notes there are nine inborn signals that babies use to communicate feelings.  The following signals can also be spotted in toddlers and are good pointers to how happy the toddler is.

  • Interest - a positive feeling
  • Enjoyment - a positive feeling
  • Distress - a negative feeling
  • Anger - a negative feeling
  • Fear - a negative feeling

Dealing with  Children and making them happy

Play - Toys, expensive clothes, lashings of ice cream: do these make children happy?  Perhaps in the short term, for an hour or two, but what really makes them happy is having fun with parents, grandparents or their childminders.  When they have fun and play games and laugh with you, that play creates joy.  It also helps with their imagination, creativity and relaxation.

Talents - Help children develop their own talents. If they are good at something, they will feel happy about that.  If they like modeling, keep some cartons and lids and let them create a robot out of boxes.  If they like drawing, then let them make a picture and hang it on the wall.  Help them master a skill and see how happy they will be.

Let them do what they want - Within reason, this is an important lesson for parents to understand.  No matter how much you want them to learn piano, if they don't want to then they won't enjoy it.  Try not to push them to do things they aren't interested in.  Listen to their own ideas.  If they are talking about going to football, rather than ballet, then give it a try.  And, try not to stick to gender prejudices.  Girls can play football, boys can do ballet!

Healthy bodies - To enable the children to play and run and enjoy life to the full, give them a healthy diet.  With good food, and lots of sleep they will have the ability to really tackle tasks and situations with energy. Give them lots of time to run around.

Sad time - Being a bit sad is okay so don't try and shake them out of a mood if they are feeling a bit down.  They need to be independent people and able to gauge their own moods.  You can encourage them to explain how they feel and try and explain or get out of the mood together.

Be a Good Role Model - Children pick up on moods and are sensitive to other's feelings so try to be positive in your own mood and outlook.  They will pick up on this and it will influence their own behaviour.



Diary of a Baby

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Family, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: audio, daily diary, diary, log, record, recording, siblings, video

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At ToucanLearn we encourage you to keep a daily diary for your little ones, but if you have children of a school age who can read or write, why not have them record a diary of their baby and toddler siblings?  A diary kept by a young child of their younger sibling would make for a fascinating account, you would get a glimpse of their understanding of the world and interpretation of events.  If your children are too young to be able to write, then how about trying to keep a recorded diary, making an audio or video recording each day?  It's really easy to make audio and video recordings these days, using mobile phones, smartphones or laptops or computers with webcams.

Keeping a diary of a young baby from a siblings perspective would make for an interesting project for you, but would become an invaluable record for your children in years to come!



Argh! It's a Spider!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Days out, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: explore, insects, natural history, nature, outdoors, science, teaching, woods

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It has been reported that teachers and carers who are afraid of spiders and creepy crawlies are stopping our children learning about the natural world!  Children are not getting involved with nature because teachers and carers are afraid of getting mucky from soil in the great outdoors and are too scared of insects to teach about them.

Experts have said that natural history and nature in general is not being taught in schools.  Not so for the childminders and parents who enjoy ToucanLearn! There are some great outdoors activities that introduce insects and teach children about their natural environment.  We don't agree with the 'don't get mucky'! philosophy of learning and teaching!  The whole idea is to get children involved.  Get them interested and inspired!  The muddier the better!

The Chairman of the Association for Science Education said teachers need more support to carry out experiments and take children outside.  Perhaps these teachers should join ToucanLearn!

He also said that Parents should take their children outside to enjoy the natural world, to learn where their food comes from, what grows in the woods and what goes on in nature.

So, let's take his lead, pull on some wellies, grab a magnifying glass and get out there in the undergrowth!  Have fun, explorers!

 

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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

Sign up FREE to ToucanLearn to follow our activity based learning programme for babies, toddlers and children. We offer hundreds of fun learning craft, games and activities - every activity is aimed at the capabilities of your specific children. Download custom activity sheets, and log their progress in each child's unique Daily Diary!

You'll also find sticker and reward charts, certificates, number and letter practice. Every activity links into the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning and development.

Fill in our Daily Diary to log progress against the EYFS and add photo entries instantly simply by sending them straight from your phone. You can share diaries back with parents or childminders so that everyone can enjoy watching your children develop.

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