We have been the greatest of friends for over 27 years and have always worked closely, starting out as Nannies before we had our own families, and became childminders.
We are always looking for new ways to inspire the little ones we care for. Who, due to our getting together each day are now all the best of friends. We pride ourselves on giving back to the community as much as possible and as childminders we are able to teach our little ones about helping others and give them the opportunities to learn about the community they live in by actively being a part of it. We have the ability to take the children out of the setting on regular trips and go on adventures, including having our own forest school! But this is also the time we use to make a difference.
Learning in the local area
Understanding diversity and multiculturalism is just one element of the activities we do. We want the children to be able to celebrate differences and show compassion, care and respect to the people they meet. We arrange visits within our local community to expose the children to as many different experiences as possible. Recently we have been to the dentist, the local vets and met some police officers.
These visits give the children real examples of what is happening where they live and the chance to ask questions of the people in our community.
A recent visit took us to a local multi-cultural supermarket. The shopkeeper let the children look around, spoke to them about how the food was used in cooking and even let us take some of the produce home to try for free. The children were fascinated and got to learn about all sorts of fruits and vegetables they had never seen before.
We contacted our local mosque to see if we could take the children for a visit. Our enquiry was answered with enthusiasm and when we arrived we were greeted by two lovely ladies, who took the time to show us their customs and allowed us to take part in activities. We were made to feel very welcome and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Not only did the children learn a lot, but we did as well.
The parents are very supportive of all we do. They love to hear about, and see photographs of our adventures through our joint Facebook page, and the children go home talking about everything that they saw and learnt, which for us, is the most rewarding part.
With our passion for getting involved with the community, we set up a visit to a local care home, so the children could meet the residents.
Many of the residents suffer with dementia and Alzheimer’s but the children don’t see that, they see new friends that they can play with and talk to which is beneficial to both resident and child. We made the visits, a full day, every week for two years, and have now started up another partnership with a different local care home. Our little ones always look forward to visiting and get so much individual attention from the residents, which they love. The benefits to both generations are clear to see.
After forming some lovely friendships with the residents we decided that we wanted to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s society. Our first step was to organise a ‘Toddle for Dementia’ to raise money and teach the children about charity. We joined up with our local childminder friends, their children and the residents, carers and family members from Home Meadow care home for a beautiful walk around the village of Toft. Parents even took the time to join us too! The children walked along with the elderly residents so nicely, understanding that they may be slower, being patient with them, chatting to them along the way. It was an amazing atmosphere and something we will always remember. Along with an additional walk we did ourselves too, we raised £520 overall for the Alzheimer’s Society.
Another example of working with the community, was raising money for the Cambridge sick children’s trust. Our local Tesco offered us the use of their free community room to hold a fun morning of music and movement. One of the lovely ladies we worked with at the care home provided the music and movement, offering her time to us for free so that all money raised went straight to the charity.
We always try to extend the children’s learning in everything we do, and doing this charity event was no different. We followed up this fund raiser by sending cards and pictures to several children who were very poorly. The children choosing to add little messages of their own.
We have also donated to the Salvation Army and involved our little ones parents in helping us with contributions. We took the children in to donate the items so they could see for themselves how volunteers sorted the donations into parcels for the needy. A fantastic learning experience for them.
As childminders we are able to get right into the heart of the community that our children are a valuable part of, and not only teach the children all about it, but also use our resources and energy to help people. The children we care for, their families, our fellow childminder friends and the co-operation of the community have enabled us to make a success of all we have set out to do. We are very grateful.
If you are thinking about getting more involved in the community, or want to make a difference but are maybe not sure where to start, we would just say get out as much as possible, talk to local people, businesses and services. Most people will be happy to help in any way they can, to support the little ones in their learning. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or costly but can be a great learning opportunity for the children, educating the next generation.