“I am not ‘just a childminder’…. I am a CHILDMINDER and proud!”
My name is Sally Wright. I am a qualified Early Years Teacher, Play Group co-owner and manager, Early Years Network co-ordinator, published author, early year’s trainer and most importantly an Ofsted registered childminder.
When Katey asked if I would like to contribute to her fantastic Early Years Mental Health Awareness Week in my childminding capacity I was delighted at the opportunity. Firstly because it is such a valuable and worthwhile event and secondly I wanted a platform to shout from the rooftops about the absolute amazing role of the childminder. A role I feel often gets undervalued in our sector and by society as a whole.
We hear too often terms such as ‘just a childminder’ or ‘glorified babysitters’, statements which completely undermine this fabulous and complex profession. Over the years I have come across many people, even some within the sector, who don’t actually know or understand that childminders do in fact deliver the exact same Early Years Foundation Stage framework as every other registered provision. Childminding is a ‘professional career’ choice which involves hard work, training and commitment and not just a path taken by a “stay at home parent who wants a little extra income!”
Childminders have to wear many hats to meet the needs of our families, our children and the governing body Ofsted. Our roles can encompass so many different aspects from being a friend, a councillor, a mediator, a nurse, a chef, a manager, a cleaner, a teacher, a safeguarding lead, SEN co-ordinator, risk assessor, policy maker, administrator, marketing coordinator, an interviewee, and interviewer and an employer to name just a few! The list is endless and the responsibility of implementing these roles all rests on one person’s shoulders. The Childminder.
The sheer amount of work involved in our role alongside the hours invested in regular training and professional development is quite frankly exhausting! The accountability is terrifying. We are at the end of the day taking care, keeping safe, teaching and making happy the most precious little things in the entire world.
We open our homes up for judgement from potential families who come to inspect if we are the provision for them and when Ofsted visit we again invite them into our homes where we are assessed and graded during a very intense one to one process. We also have to include our family in their scrutiny and even though this is a necessary intrusion, it can add a whole lot of pressure on those around us. We don’t have a ‘team’ to absorb this pressure or support us through any difficulties. It can be a very isolated and lonely role for many childminders. This paired with the apparent lack of understanding and recognition from our early years colleagues can almost certainly impact on the well-being of the childminder.
We are often left feeling like the ‘underdogs’ which in a sector that already feels like it is undervalued and misunderstood by our educational colleagues is a hard thing to accept. Even now during the Covid-19 panademic we are being misrepresented and misunderstood about what our roles actually involves.
There is only one way in which we can change this and that is to educate others. To be able to do this we must first believe in ourselves, we must unite and stand up because together we are strong.
So, here I am to tell every childminder who reads this, and all our lovely colleagues across the sector and beyond….Childminders are actually AMAZING! They are doing such an important job.
A childminder can provide a continuity of care for families which often goes beyond early childhood. They are the backbone of the sector with their flexible working hours and adaptability. There are currently 39,000 of us registered in the UK (Gov.uk: March 2019). Which equates to potentially 117,000 early year’s children being cared for by us ‘just childminders’! We are really are making such a huge difference to children, families and the future!
Let’s not allow our profession to be belittled or looked down upon, let’s not look for new fancy names to call ourselves and instead let’s educate others and celebrate our roles. Be proud of your chosen career, take a moment to absorb just how brilliant and important you are, then shout it from the roof tops! “WE ARE CHILDMINDERS AND PROUD!”