1. How long have you been a childminder for?
I have been a registered childminder for nearly eight years now.
2. Why/How did you become a childminder?
Previously I worked as a Teaching Assistant at Midfield Primary School. Although I enjoyed the work, the children and the wonderful staff, I wanted something different. I enjoyed working with the younger children and I wanted a more hands-on feel. I loved planning activities and thinking of new ideas and games to help with learning. My son Ian suggested that I become a childminder. So, after looking into it I decided that that’s what I would do.
3. What do you love most about childminding?
What I love most about childminding is planning fun and exciting activities. I thrive on the feeling of giving children new experiences. My heart fills to bursting when I make up a new game to support the children’s learning that they love to play and helps them develop. Marvellous marbles and shark in the park are two games I made up to support maths. The children don’t see these games as learning but they support ordering of number, counting, recognising numbers, using number language and being able to count objects to 5, 10 or 20.
I love it when I see the children have learnt something during their time with me.
4. What challenges have you faced while being a childminder?
My main challenges are when to stop. It might seem silly, but if I see a toy at a boot sale or on special offer and I know one of my minded children would love it, or a resource that will support the children’s learning, I just have to buy it.
Secondly, I spend a lot of my own time making resources for the children; displays, printing, laminating and ordering resources for messy play. I have learnt that all children learn in different ways and my personal challenge to find a way to teach them and help each child develop and move forward.
5. What inspired you to become an author and write children's books?
When my son was about 3 (he is 25 now) he had a terrible fear of spiders. I wanted to help him overcome this, so I wrote a book (A4 paper and blue biro pen). I helped him to think of how the spider might feel with the way Ian reacted and that the spider might feel a bit sad in the way Ian reacted, after all the spider was probably only looking for a friend.
The book lay unpublished for over 20 years. Then in 2012, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After my treatment, I felt differently about life. I wanted to do something big, fulfil my own dreams, do something positive and being a published Author was a dream of mine.
It took another couple of years but in 2014, 'The Fairies of Tumbledown cottage' was published and in 2016 'Spike the Friendly Spider' was published. This book addresses problems making friends and being different. I wanted to publish more books to support and help children with learning disabilities or conditions, so Hetty the Brave Hedgehog came next, addressing anxiety in children. In June, 'Stan the Busy Squirrel' will be published, addressing ADHD in children and I am currently writing 'Fergus the fidgety Frog', which takes a subtle look at ASD in children.
I love children, I love working with them and being able to help and support them meaning my own children and the children I care for are my inspiration.
6. How did you choose the topic of friendship for the book?
Choosing the topic of friendship was easy. How would I feel if every time I tried to make friends with someone, they ran away screaming just at the sight of me. Just because I look different doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings, need to be with others and want to share my life experiences.
7. How does your book target the areas of the EYFS?
My book 'Spike and the friendly Spider' targets:
PS&ED - teaching children to think of others feelings, think about what they say may hurt or affect others. Making relationships, self-confidence and awareness, managing feelings and behaviour.
C&L - understanding, listening, attention and speaking. My books are thought provoking, there are plenty of opportunity for the reader to stop and ask questions. Ask the children how they feel, have they ever had an experience like this? What do they think will happen next?
PD - turning the pages, handling the book carefully and with respect.
L - reading, early stages of reading, asking them to sequence the story, draw a picture after the story and label their picture.
UW - use the story book at the beginning of a bug hunt when learning about mini beasts.
EA&D - looking at the colourful illustrations, vibrant colours, asking the children to create their own colourful character.
8. How did you use your experience as a childminder and with children to write the book?
Every experience I have had with either my own children or the children I have or am currently caring for have played a part in the stories I have written.
9. What would you say to a childminder who is thinking of becoming an author?
If I was asked by another childminder who had thought about publishing their book, I would say, “follow your dreams, don’t put it on hold for another day. There is no time like the present and life is too short, go for it, it’s not as difficult as you imagine. Do it and be happy".
A bit about Teresa
I was born in Dulwich, raised in Northamptonshire and moved to London when I was 13. I am the oldest daughter of five children and have spent many years working in various schools as a midday supervisor, breakfast club leader, classroom assistant and teaching assistant.
With inspiration from my pets such as my African Pygmy Hedgehog, I have now written three books including 'Hetty the Brave Hedgehog' and the 'Fairies of Tumbledown Cottage' and 'Stan the Busy Squirral', addressing ADHD in children. My next book I am writing will be 'Fergus the fidgety Frog', taking a subtle look at ASD in children.