Tinklebugs Childcare Case study.
The lovely Kate, at Kate Moxley Early Years consultancy, asked us to contribute to Well-being week 2019 by providing a case study.
We are a large childminding setting and care for children 0-12 years. We participated in Well-being week in 2018. At the beginning of the week, I was concerned that it wasn’t something we did well within our setting. I was worried that I couldn’t think of ‘themed’ activities to support our children’s well being, let alone their families and our practitioners. At the end of well-being week 2018, we reflected on the week and came to the conclusion that we support the children and their families wellbeing well. What we did learn, is that we often forget our own wellbeing. On reflection, we don’t always think about ourselves; this job takes dedication and can sometimes be draining. We put many hours into our job, not just with the children, but also hours outside our opening times, completing paperwork, sourcing new resources and answering to parents needs.
We decided that looking after ourselves, is just as important as looking after the children in our care and their families; something I have never been great at.
A year on…
Where are we now? So much has happened over this last year. As practitioners, we have become confident that we are meeting everyone’s wellbeing.
Friday afternoons as practitioners, we sit down and reflect on the week, what went well, what the children really enjoyed and how we can enhance their learning. We use the Leuven scale to assess the level of well being. We know our children well and work very closely with their families. Parents are kept up to date with their child/children’s learning and well being; parents share information from home using our Private Facebook group. We have continued to support our families, regularly chatting to them on drop off/pick up. We plan family get togethers, parents night’s off meals and have an open door policy.
Within the setting, the children are learning to be independent, resilient with a ‘can do’ attitude. Each child is supported to their own level of understanding; children regularly make decisions based on their wishes. They help with menu planning, snack choices, resources, what they want to learn about and daily ‘what shall we do today?’ Every child is given a voice, practitioners listen carefully to the children, even those that aren’t talking yet. By knowing what the children’s interests are, we are able to support their learning.
Over this last year we have ensured that children are getting fresh air and the facilities to run, run fast in large open spaces, make noice when they need to let of some steam. Who doesn’t like standing in the middle of the field and screaming when they are stressed? Allowing the children to run and shout gives a release, we are outside everyday. This time of year, outside is a magical place, with leaves on many colours falling from the trees above us. We love to embrace the feelings it gives us, laying on the grass, watching the clouds move fast, changing their shapes. The rustling trees creating a sense of magic, children’s story telling come alive as we sit together. Using the time to slow down is just as important as the running and shouting. We practiced some simple yoga moves; some have really engaged in this where others prefer to just chill with quiet activities, such as, colouring or looking through books. We recently celebrated interaction fairy tea party in the woods under the autumn sun. Earlier in the term, the children paid a visit to the Fire Station, learning from, and be part of their local community.
Over the last year, the children have been planning their own camping trip, guided by those who have been camping, allowing the children who haven’t, giving them a little insight on some of the fun that could be had. This interest was very strong and went on for many months. We came to the conclusion; give everyone the opportunity to experience (day) camping with our very first camp festival. The children spent all day outside, participating in camp activities for the very first time, allowing them to play in large open spaces, climb trees, chase bubbles and make new friends. Everyone had a high level of well being, all day. Parents wanted to stay to join in, so at pick up every day we invited parents to join in around the camp fire to cook snacks, sign songs and chat about what the children had been up to. Children were excited to tell ‘their’ story, parents who were able to give their full attention, magical memories have been made.
Being a small team, we often talk about things, getting them off our chest or sharing our enthusiasm over something. We support each other in work and our personal lives. I ensure practitioners, should they wish to, take their birthday off work they can, allow them to complete all paperwork during working hours and never take their work home. All practitioners are invited on parents night out events. We have found by looking after practitioners wellbeing, in turn supports our children. If the practitioners are not at their best, then the care for children may not be at its best. Special little treats in house, such as a takeaway lunch or a box of chocolates or a bottle of coke available boosts how they feel appreciated.
Using our positive mindset within the setting, the children are happy, engaged and their wellbeing is truly supported in everything we do. Every child has a voice, they are listened to and made to feel valued. Practitioners are encouraged to take time out when needed, to ask for support when needed and enjoy their job.
We are supporting families to use our ‘I can’ attitude with their children. We like that we have a strong relationship with parents, who in turn, support us in caring for their children.
For me personally, this job takes a lot of my time away from my own children and over the last year I have made time for me and my family. Paperwork is completed on set days and no longer interfere with my children. I make myself take time out after a particularly busy or stressful day.
We are excited to join in with Well-being week 2019. Thank you Kate, for sharing your wealth of knowledge, setting up great resources and sharing platform for everyone to participate.
Carla Blackburn Tinkle bugs Childcare https://www.facebook.com/tinklebugs/