Since winning Childminder of the Year 2016, what has changed?
Since being awarded childminder of the year 2016 it has inspired me to work even harder to promote the Early Years and particularly collaboration between Early Years colleagues and other agencies. I am looking forward to an additional role within my childminding career as a Quality Hub Co-ordinator within Somerset with the vision to support self improving communities, which is outlined in the Somerset vision - Excellence for all. Our local cluster meetings and moderation meetings are going well and are well represented by local Early Years professionals across the Early Years Foundation Stage. Within Somerset Childminding Association we had a very successful childminding conference which supported the unique needs of childminders in our Local Authority. We have had a very fun year childminding with the children we are currently focusing on Jack and the Bean Stalk! The children are really excited to see how high they can grow their bean stalks. The Nursery World Awards has challenged me to work even harder to provide an exciting, safe and fun home learning environment for the children and their families. We have been overwhelmed by the support from our children, families, friends, LA & childminding community. A huge Thank you!
What have you learnt in the last year?
This last year we have focused a lot on personal social and emotional development and supporting children to be emotionally ready for school. I was lucky enough to be part of a group training by Somerset Emotion Coaching Project, which was incredible. We have been learning a lot about tuning into emotions, self regulation and implementing tools such as mindfulness into the setting. It is particularly important at this time as the world increasingly is becoming busier and technology means both adults and children are always connected and this can lead to things such as stress, decreased mental health and poor concentration. The benefits to the children and families in our setting have been amazing! We have also picked up some amazing training hosted by our local authority around the gender gap which was really useful.
What’s the best thing about being a childminder?
The absolute best thing about being a childminder is having the autonomy to create and self improve your own home based setting. By being able to take the children to all the amazing places Somerset has to offer and really being able to share some really amazing play experiences. Being a micro business you are able to really tune into the needs and aspirations families have for their children and you are really able to learn from them and also support them in their journey. It is great being a childminder because you usually get to follow a families journey from when their children are just babies until school and sometimes beyond.
....and the most challenging?
The most challenging part of childminding can sometimes be the many roles a childminder needs to support their childminding business, including ensuring they fit training and CPD in on their evenings or weekends and still support the needs of their family and make sure the glitter and sand has been hoovered up before your partner gets home!
Which three words best sum up your childcare setting?
Quality Early Experience
How did you get started in the childcare sector?
It all started with wanting to stay at home with my son George and eager to learn more about how children grow, learn and develop through play. It has been incredibly interesting and the most amazing career choice ever!
If you could go back to when you started as a childcare professional and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be confident! Sometimes as a childminder I found it difficult to be listened to especially when I thought it was important. Be a confident professional childminder, be confident to attend training, walk into a group you have never been to before and be confident to make sure you are heard when you feel it is important.
What do you wish other people outside of the childcare sector understood about the profession?
I wish I could show others a video of a childminders typical week which would highlight just how brilliant they are and how it is such an exciting career choice! I would like to highlight the training and CPD Childminders take part in to continually improve. I would like to show the love, care and dedication a childminder shows to the families and children that attend. It is important for people who may not know outside of the childcare sector the knowledge, time, teaching, passion and fun childminders and other Early Years Professionals bring to their roles to support children and their development. Early Years professionals ensure they continually develop to ensure every child has the best possible start.
If you were in charge of national childcare policy for a day what would you change?
This is a tricky question as there are lots of things to be proud of in the Early Years and a lot of things I would not change. I would extend play based learning for longer, with a higher focus on personal social and emotional development and ensure when making decisions quality and care are at the centre of everything. I would ensure there would be a budget to ensure professionals were recognised for their hard work and qualifications they continue to train for through continual professional development. I think the childcare sector would love to see clear progression routes in the Early Years so more professionals feel like they are fairly rewarded for their dedication and hard work. I just think that a childcare policy should be funded fairly to support sustainability for our hard working Early Years/childcare sector. I would wish to make it easier for children and families with SEN & or D to access funding and quality resources for their children to support their Early Childcare experiences in the settings of their choice.
What do you consider to be the best aspect of PACEY membership?
The overwhelming amount of support available to me and others. I also find it very useful to hear about all the latest news in the childcare sector, the fact sheets are very useful.
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Which is your favourite - messy play, storytime or outdoor fun?
I love them all! Especially when you are going on a bear hunt using messy play on a story walk in the outdoors!
What’s your never-fails, the-children-always-love-it activity?
Never fails always love it activity is saving the dinosaurs stuck in ice and using many methods to try and save them! Including ones that make a fizz, pop or a bang!
Rebecca Lihou was Nursery World’s Childminder of the Year 2016 after being recognised for her outstanding setting and commitment to ‘nurturing the whole family to promote children’s happiness in response to an increasingly busy and stressful world’.
Rebecca is based in Yeovil, Somerset and her setting currently looks after 17 children between the ages of 8 months to 9 years. She started her business on her own and recruited an assistant for more support after her son was diagnosed with brittle bones. She now works alongside one co-minder and employs two assistants.
One of the Nursery World judges described Rebecca as an ambassador for the profession and was impressed at the excellent evidence of her positive impact on the lives of others.
Meet all our childminders