Becoming a childminding assistant
Becoming a childminding assistant is an ideal first step towards working with children for a living. You can work with a small group of children in the childminder’s home and learn essential childcare skills and, if you have childdren, they can join in the fun!
Maybe you enjoy being at home with your little ones, but realise it’s time to earn some money, learn new skills or take some steps towards getting a job. It’s not always easy to find work to fit around the children and often, you can’t go back to what you were doing before you had them. So now’s your chance to get creative when deciding what you want to do.
There are lots of things to think about when deciding what to do next but lots of parents use this time to choose to do something they’ve always wanted to do. If you have ever thought about working with children, right now is a good time to try. You will meet people working in childcare, such as childminders or nannies, at parent and baby or toddler groups or children’s centres. Ask them what their work is like.
It’s more than fun and games
If playing with children, cutting and sticking, telling stories, taking outings to farms and soft play sounds like fun to you, then exploring the idea of working with children might be a good place to start. But it’s more than fun and games; childminders are also well qualified childcare professionals running their own businesses who work with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) in England are trained in first aid and safeguarding.
If a childminder takes on an assistant, it means they can look after more children. They’ll have someone to help out and bounce ideas off, as well as someone who is a good back up in an emergency, which is always reassuring for parents.
And becoming a childminding assistant is an ideal introduction to working with children as you get the childminder’s one-to-one support, a comfortable home setting and a small group of children. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to take your funded two-year-old to work with you, as long as they are not related to the childminder.
The busy childminders in your area might be the best ones to approach about becoming an assistant, as they are the ones likely to need help. If you become an assistant, you will need to take first aid training, have a DBS check and learn about child development, safeguarding and the EYFS. The childminder will be able to support you and point you in the right direction for what you need to do.
Iron out the details
Before you accept a job as a childminding assistant, make sure the childminder has thought through all the details and you are clear about what you will do, who is responsible for what and how much you will be paid and when. Ask for a job description and contract or at least something written down and agreed on the hours, your duties and pay.
Being a childminding assistant can be a rewarding and fun first step in working with children, but it’s not for everyone. Have a go at our quiz to see if it’s right for you!
1. Do you enjoy spending time with, playing with and looking after children?
Yes or No
2. Are you ready to learn new things about how best to take care of children?
Yes or No
3. Do you want to work with a small group of children in a home setting?
Yes or No
4. Are you good at thinking on your feet?
Yes or No
5. Are you happy to work closely with one other person?
Yes or No
6. Do you like the idea of every day being different?
Yes or No
If you answered mostly ‘yes’ to these questions, then you may be ready to try a job as a childminding assistant.
Kara and Lisa's story
Becoming a childminding assistant is a brilliant way to get started in working with children. Childminders can support you on your way to a job in childcare as they have lots of experience, training and they work with small groups of children. We spoke to Kara Jewell who employs Lisa Jarmola as her childminding assistant. Lisa had run a parent and toddler group and she had an idea she'd enjoy working with children but wasn't sure where to start until she spoke to Kara, who encouraged her.
Kara started her childcare career as a childminding assistant and she says, "I know what it's like. I really appreciated the support then and I'm really happy to be able to support someone else on their journey as well as to get more help with the children I look after".
If childminders employ an assistant they can look after more children and expand their business. Kara says, "it's great to have the extra pair of hands. It means the children have more choice too. They can stay at my house with Lisa and play while I pick up the older children from school, for example".
It's great for parents too; it means there is more than one childminder available at drop offs and pick ups to find out about the day and share information. Lisa loves the way that childminders build up a bond with each family, something that might not happen in quite the same way at a nursery. "Being invited to family parties and special events is great as it shows how well the families relate to you," says Lisa.
But it's not all parties! Importantly, childminders are trained professionals and Kara supported Lisa with her knowledge of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Lisa says, "Kara explained the EYFS and how it all worked. Once I was more confident and knew my role, Kara encouraged me to undertake a qualification, which I enjoyed. I am now having a short break and then I will work on the next level".
If you have a 2 year-old who is eligible for government funding, the good news is you can still be a childminding assistant, take your child to work with you and get the funding, as long as your child isn't related to the childminder.
If you are interested in becoming a childminder assistant, find out who the busy local childminders are and either contact them directly and ask if they've thought of employing an assistant. Or see if you can meet them at local drop ins, toddler groups, library sessions, children's centres, or the local park and have a general chat about their work. Mention you're interested in working with children and see what they say.
Lisa gives good advice, "just ask. The worst case is that they say 'no'. But you will have met some childminders along the way, which is definitely a good thing!