In the early years sector, we find ourselves in a time of uncertainty for so many childcare professionals. With the introduction of the Governments 30 hours funding causing for nursery/preschool owners and home-based child-carer providers alike to have financial issues society is now seeing long-term childminders leaving the profession as they just cannot afford to stay open.
At times of negativity and confusion, it can be detrimental to the enthusiasm of childminders, not only as professionals but as people too. Home-based childcare can be lonely and isolating and it’s essential that as childminders we support and inspire each other in order to continue to provide the incredible, personal care that so many parents choose us for.
Whilst we understand the frustration childminders face, with society’s negative view of the profession, this affects morale and ultimately could put off potential parents. We want inspire other childminders that you don’t need to have an endless pot of money or a large house dedicated to your play space in order to be successful and provide high quality learning opportunities.
Our setting, Pebbles Childcare, was set up by Bridgit Brown in August 2015; transforming one of her downstairs rooms into a playroom and sourcing furniture, equipment and resources from other childminders, family members and friends. After creating a suitable play space and learning environment for the children within her home, Bridgit utilised and incorporated her local environment into her daily routines with regular beach visits, woodland walks, visits to local children centres and ‘Stay and Play’ sessions at her local childminding group.
Pebbles Childcare’s over-arching ethos has been about providing opportunities for the children that they can be actively involved in and empowering them through exploration and investigation. As a result, within weeks of registering as a childminder, Bridgit was at capacity and had a bursting waiting list with enquiries flooding in almost daily. With this in mind, Bridgit made the difficult decision to employ another member of staff (me!) to meet the growing demand and develop the business further, offering the high quality of childcare she’d developed to larger numbers of children.
I joined Pebbles Childcare in February 2016 and became a registered childminder to ‘co-mind’ alongside Bridgit. Our continued success means we now have no availability until September 2018. The popularity we have experienced as a setting is beyond anything either of us had ever imagined. We made the transition into home-based childcare from busy day nursery environments in order to apply our combined experience (over 30 years collectively) on a more personal level and to expose the children to ‘real-life’ that they wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to within a nursery environment. We embrace the freedom that being home-based childcare providers allows for both us, our children and our practice as well as the learning experiences we provide.
Our practice is ultimately led by the children and our activities, outings and resources reflect this. Many of our resources and activities are hand-made, borrowed from others or passed on through families. We very rarely spend huge amounts of money on buying brand new resources, instead sourcing new things at car boot sales or incorporating loose parts and natural resources into our play. Children learn so much more from thinking critically, manipulating and creating their own play opportunities through loose parts and raw materials than from plastic, pre-designed toys.
Similarly, outdoor play and learning is something we pride ourselves on, but more so our wider community as we are limited on outdoor space with our garden area. Outings to the beach, woodlands, local market, pet shops, supermarkets, libraries and parks are all free and hold so many varying learning experiences for the children. Providing children with the opportunities to be actively involved and hands-on in their learning and experience is simple and so beneficial for their learning, allowing them to become confident and independent young people with a positive approach to learning.
This is what home-based childcare is about, offering engaging and inspiring learning experiences and opportunities that just can’t be replicated within a larger setting.
We believe as childminders, we are in such a wonderful position to instil and inspire young children through our practice and provision. This isn’t about money, space or resources, this is about loving what you do and nurturing and supporting the learning and development of the children in your care through your passion. Home-based childcare isn’t about what you have, but more about who you are and what you can offer the children in terms of experiences, love, support and nurturing. The things money can’t buy.
Pebbles Childcare is a home-based childcare provision in Worthing, West Sussex. Since opening in 2015, Bridgit and Chloe have been published in a variety of childcare publications and blogs, been shortlisted for ‘Early Years Setting of The Year’ at the prestigious TES School Awards in June 2017, in addition to Bridgit’s success at the Sussex Woman in Business Awards in October 2016 where she won the ‘New Business Start Up’ award. Most recently, following their first Ofsted inspection. This year, Pebbles Childcare was graded ‘Outstanding in All Areas’, not only an incredible achievement, but exceptionally rare for a first inspection.