Lorraine Horner from Bracknell, qualified as a nursery nurse 45 years ago and has been working with children ever since. She is currently a registered childminder and takes care of three 2-year-olds alongside other children. One of the 2-year-olds is government funded. Here, she describes the benefits of childcare for 2-year-olds and how to create trust between a childminder and parent.
What’s special about 2-year-olds?
I love looking after 2-year-olds! They are discovering everything for the first time. Everything feels new to them. We often take trips out to parks, woods and farms and they don’t always remember that we’ve been before. Their eyes light up at the excitement of seeing a cow or a sheep and I enjoy knowing I’ve given them that experience.
Two-year-olds are also developing language and starting to use words they hear around them. I chuckled to myself the other day when a 2-year-olds helped me tidy up. I said, “thank you very much for helping” and she replied, “you’re welcome”. It was such a lovely moment to have her correctly use words she’s heard me say.
At 2, children have got lots of energy. It’s so important to give them a chance to run and move and when we’re not out and about, I have a garden they can play in. The challenge at this age is that they don’t play together much. They will often play next to each other but with completely different things. For example, one will want to play with cars and while the other is cutting and sticking. As they grow, they will gradually start to play with each other.
A day in the life of a childminder
Every day is different in the life of a childminder. In the warmer months, we may take a day trip out, but we will also often go to toddler groups, the park, woods or soft play. Then, when we get home, I’ll invite the children to join in with activities that follow their interests, the seasons or something related to the outing we’ve had. For example, if we’ve been to a farm, we’ll do construction or collage with farm animals.
I have a well set out and equipped play room. So we’ll spend the rest of the day there or in the garden. We might have a story, music or songs and we’re always practicing language and numbers. The younger children will sleep after lunch, while the older ones do quiet activities such as puzzles and games.
Supporting a child’s development
In my area, the childminders can do the 2-year-old progress check, which parents then take to health visitors. We are trained, qualified childcare professionals who get to know the children really well, so we can be parents’ first port of call if they are worried about anything
Sometimes, health visitors recommend childminders for particular reasons, for example, they might think that a small group would benefit a child.
Visiting a childminder for the first time might not easy for parents. They might want to visit without their child first, then follow up with a second visit with their child.
Once a parent has had a second visit with me, including the child, I will usually do a home visit. Not everyone does this, but I feel the child opens up more to me in their own home, and we start to build a bond. If a child is unsure about being with a childminder, it might be a good idea to try a home visit.
Following the home visit, if we have agreed to give it a go, then the child will come to me for a few visits to settle them in. The first visit could be for 10 minutes on their own, gradually increasing to a couple of hours. I will sometimes also suggest meeting at a toddler group, particularly one they are used to visiting.
My final words of advice to parents would be - give it a chance, you’ll never know until you try. And trust yourself!