At the recent Nursery World Awards 2018 held in London, Joanne Marvell became Childminder of the Year 2018. We spoke to Joanne about her win and what her plans are for the future.
How do you feel about being Nursery Worlds ‘Childminder of the Year 2018’?
“I am still feeling very overwhelmed by the whole thing” says Joanne, as she tells us how she was entered. “The lovely families of the children I look after put me up for the award in secret and I wasn’t told anything until I had apparently reached the final!”
Joanne owes it all to her parents, “I can’t thank them enough for all their hard work and kind words in entering me, it was all a big shock and such a lovely surprise!” she said.
What made you want to become a childminder?
It was inspiration from another childminder that made Joanne change her career completely. “I used to live next door to an outstanding childminder called Belinda Costello. Belinda was great with the children, offering them fun and varied activities” says Joanne, “she inspired me to change careers and become a childminder myself.”
How long have you been a childminder?
Joanne has had a long and amazing career so far, with “nearly 20 years” of experience. “Over this time I have had the pleasure of looking after around 50 families, most of which have stayed with me for many years, whilst caring for one sibling or another as well”.
Getting to know all these families, means they become almost part of Joanne’s family, “one family stayed with me for 11 years” and she even gets visits from children she originally cared for, who are now in their twenties, “they still come and see me to update me on their lives”.
What is the best thing about being a childminder?
The answer is simple for Joanne, “the children are by far the best thing”. They have become part of the family, “I love to watch them grow in ability, personality and confidence. They make me laugh on a daily basis” she adds.
Her career in early years and education has even helped Joanne with her own family. “My children have struggled educationally so I have a passion for supporting children with special education needs and try hard to be as inclusive as possible.” This is core to Joanne’s role in the early years and as a childminder, “I believe every child should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.” One of the children Joanne cared for was little Rory, where she used "sensory trays for him to engage with". With developmental delay and physical disabilities, Joanne was committed to making sure he was always included.
…and the most challenging?
The biggest challenge Joanne finds is the paperwork. While “most of us work around a ten hour day and have our own families after finishing work, finding time to fit it in can be difficult.” Joanne adds that not all the paperwork she does is a requirement of my registration but having been a “network childminder for many years on their quality assurance scheme, I know it’s good practice”. It’s important to get a balance and “I know what works well for me to be able to see what the children have accomplished in my care and what activities I need to plan to help them move on to their next steps.”
What advice would you give to a childcare professional who is just starting on their childcare journey?
“I would suggest a variety of training, make sure you attend conferences and go to workshops”, says Joanne. These have been huge inspirations for her as a childminder giving her “ideas, activities and ways to improve my own childminding practice”.
Doing this not only extends your personal knowledge, but gives you a great way to interact with other childminders and is a “great way to meet other likeminded people who have since become a great source of support and friendship for me”.
For Joanne, the key thing she has learnt is “the more we put into children’s learning and the activities we provide the more we get back.”
What do you wish other people outside the childcare sector understood about the profession?
“We are professionals”, Joanne says. “Most of us have at least a level 3 qualification and attend regular training. We are graded by Ofsted and have worked hard to raise the standard of our childminding over the years.” It’s important to recognise these achievements and to show others how valuable childminders are.
Childminders are in a unique position adds Joanne, “to offer this care in a home from home environment where children feel safe and secure, but also have the opportunity to go on regular outings accessing local zoos, farms, shops, parks and more.” The learning is endless.
What are your favourite activities to do with the children?
Joanne loves creating different play tray themes “that reflect the children’s own interests or themes we are working on at the time”.
The same goes for the role play area where Joanne can turn this into a hairdressers, greengrocers, fire station or even a vets. She adds, “the children play here at all ages, learning great sharing skills by taking turns, covering all seven areas of learning.”
What are your never fails, the-children-always-love-it activity?
It would have to be singing, story sacs and messy play. For Joanne, the children “love playing with the musical instruments, creating shapes with play dough or getting messy with a craft.”
How long have you been a PACEY member? What do you consider to be the best aspects of the membership?
Joanne has been a member since registering in 1999. Her favourite benefit is the magazine, “it has really useful updates and interesting articles to read” she adds. Business Smart and MyPACEY are other elements that she loves, “PACEY has lots of information to support me running a business online, with forms, fact-sheets, blogs, written policies and procedures, training, permission forms and more, the list is endless”.
- Find out more about PACEY membership
- Catch up with Childminding Business of the year, Pebbles Childcare
- Access Business Smart, created for childminders, by childminders