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What Parents Really Want


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I feel a little unsure over which direction to take my provision in and thought I'd ask some advice and differing opinion from all you helpful and informed people on here xD

After gaining EYPS 2 years ago and implementing the EYFS and various projects I've been involved in etc, etc, my practice has changed and developed a lot - new policies, different planning, more focus on individual children, more involvement from parents - which I felt has been a positive thing.

My doubts have come about after a conversation with a parent. I wanted to put some strategies in place to support her child with his social skills as he often became distressed when another child played alongside him and would move away with his toys (he plays happily with my daughters who are much older 10, 12 as he leads the play and they follow, he shows interest in children in other ways and I have no concerns about his development) I wrote this up in the form of a play plan and shared it with parents.

Basically following this the parent said she felt a bit fed up about everything being so formalised/written down/evidenced and felt it wasn't benefitting her or her child but used as evidence for ofsted. One of the reasons she chose me for her childminder (she visited lots and nurseries as well) was because I handled the initial meetings so well and supported her anxiety in leaving her child by offering lots of visits to develop attachment and by suggesting that I would become like a member of her child's extended family. At the time I still had plenty of policies and forms to fill out as well as comprehensive learning diaries.

It's just made me question whether I'm offering what parents want by making play and learning so formal.

I feel under additional pressure to get everything right as Ofsted inspection is due in january.

I've recently sent out comprehensive questionnaires and evaluations for parents that are due back in september so may gain some info from them - although now I'm dreading parents requesting changes that i have to show oftsed I'm working on before my inspection.

sorry, this is turning into a really long post so I'll stop but I would be really interested to hear if others have had similar discussions with parents

just one more point - last year I helped the authority give some training to other childminders on the EYFS and there was often concerns raised that for eg. parents didn't want their children's play documented and assessed they just wanted us to be with them, play with them and have fun

and I always tried to counter that with give parents the information on why this is valuable and you will bring them on board but now I'm doubting myself

 

aaaagh - can't seem to get anything right :o

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My doubts have come about after a conversation with a parent. .....................I wrote this up in the form of a play plan and shared it with parents.

Basically following this the parent said she felt a bit fed up about everything being so formalised/written down/evidenced and felt it wasn't benefitting her or her child but used as evidence for ofsted. One of the reasons she chose me for her childminder (she visited lots and nurseries as well) was because I handled the initial meetings so well and supported her anxiety in leaving her child by offering lots of visits to develop attachment and by suggesting that I would become like a member of her child's extended family. At the time I still had plenty of policies and forms to fill out as well as comprehensive learning diaries.

It's just made me question whether I'm offering what parents want by making play and learning so formal.

 

My lovely NN is on maternity leave and has been looking for a child minder for her beautiful daughter, unsuccessfully! She doesn't want to use a day nursery because she wants the "home" type environment. She has visited a number of childminders rated outstanding by OFSTED and in all cases she has rejected them because their paperwork was just so immaculate.

Now if someone who works in early years with lots of experience and knowledge of the theory behind it all doesn't want that for her baby do other parents?

 

On the other hand another colleague's child minder has had a terrible report from OFSTED (not able to produce all the policy documents and paperwork) he is furious because she provides exactly the kind of environment he wants for his children - in his words "home from home" so he has writen to OFSTED to complain.

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This is such a hard one isn't it?

 

We want to show that we are as capable and professional as other setting yet we are also valued for our differences from those settings.

 

I have to say the I have never been very enthusiastic about recording every little step forward and hiccup in children's learning. I can understand the need in a setting where several members of staff are responsible for each child's care at different times. I also understand the need for keeping a record for the parents to look back on and see their child's progress. However as childminders we can keep a lot in our heads and it does feel like some of the recording is for Ofsted's benefit.

 

There are good reasons for keeping written records and we are under more and more pressure to write everything down. But, as a mother,I would prefer to think that my childminder's time was used for playing and interacting with the children so I understand how this parents feels. I also know that every bit of paper I have to fill in detracts from the time I have with my own children.

 

It sounds like you are doing a fantastic job, especially as you have been brave enough to send out questionnaires to parents. You only have to show Ofsted that you are prepared to make changes - you don't have to have it all done before they come out. You're commitment to change and improvement could not be better demonstrated than you have already by this and the fact that you have EYPS!

 

As for the childminder who did not have enough policies and paperwork - the EYFS does not require us to have any policies so as long as she has the minimum requirements like a contract, accident book etc she should not have been penalised!

 

As you can see, it's a bit of a soap box for me too DCN.

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parents didn't want their children's play documented and assessed they just wanted us to be with them, play with them and have fun

and I always tried to counter that with give parents the information on why this is valuable and you will bring them on board but now I'm doubting myself

Hi,

 

Parents..... they come in all shapes and sizes and are as individual in their needs as the children we care for! Finding the balance for each one of them is tricky. Since introducing home-school link books last August and seeing just how differently they are used (and abused) it has been a very interesting learning curve. From what I have seen in my setting the majority of parents are concerned with the minutiae, such as what their children ate and how much, who their friends are, a brief resume of what they did today, why they have a change of clothing and so on... oh, and where's that missing T shirt (unnamed of course)? We rarely get feedback on observations sent home, although to please Ofsted we continue to send them. I think most parents make a choice and then trust us to give their children the appropriate care - I am sure the majority would still prefer us to engage and have fun with their children than filling in loads of forms.

 

You are obviously very dedicated, dcn, and have given much thought to your practice. Don't doubt yourself, because at the end of the day we are the people trained - and still training - to care for young children. We are there for the children first, then the parents and finally Ofsted!

 

In spite of my own doubts, we recently received outstanding for our partnership with parents, although I still felt we had miles to go. Good luck with yours!

 

Lesley

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Thanks for all those replies

I absolutely agree with that order - children first (always), parents, ofsted (the issue I commented on I did feel that I had the child's needs at the centre, and knew parent would feel a little anxious about the concern I'd raised but felt that I wouldn't be doing my job properly if I did not support the development of her child's social skills)

the range of parents needs is also an issue - i've just had another parent tell me that she had always assumed that once her little girl reached 2 she would move her from me to a nursery to get the stimulation/education/social play that she needed but after discussion with me decided she will stay because actually she does get all of that with me.

I do feel in competition with other types of provider, I do want to raise childminders profiles by becoming equally professional but perhaps I have forgotten to value the differences that home based care brings too - which at the end of the day is why parents choose us

the parent in question here is the only one out of her peers who has chosen a childminder and among them many held the view that their children wouldn't be stimulated enough with someone who "minds" children and their children may get too attached.

I felt that through all the things I do - learning diaries linked to a curriculum, home learning ideas, information sheets for parents etc etc that I was demonstrating to my families the stimulating education and loving care I was providing for their children

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Anything I say, dcn will be couched very much in terms of my experience as a daycare provider. However I recognise so much of your post because I think we all face these challenges in our practice.

 

Parents do have individual needs, just as children do and half the battle is to find out what their motivations are and what they expect from you. So the parent you mention in your post might have been happier for you to have had exactly the same conversation with her about how plan to support her child's developing social skills, but without having it all documented. Yet another parent wouldn't be able to take all that verbal information in, and would want to see it all written down so she could keep track of progress.

 

Ultimately your practice would remain the same - as you said it is your role to ensure the child's learning and development is supported and this would happen whether you had written the play plan or not, or indeed whether you had shared with the parent or not. It is the bedrock of what you do: for you the child comes first and always will.

 

I was especially interested in your comment about the parent who felt her daughter should move on at two, and the perceived distinction between daycare and people who 'mind' children. That got me thinking about the title "Childminder" and I wondered if this in itself is the root of some of the problems you encounter when you 'compete' with pre-schools, nurseries etc? It is ironic really, given the higher number of childminders than daycare settings who are able to get Outstanding ofsted reports that the profile of childminders isn't higher than it is.

 

I'm sure when your questionnaires come back you will be overwhelmed by positive comments about you and your practice. There may be things to consider (in my experience when the practice is outstanding, the feedback from parents and other agencies can seem very pedantic indeed!), but all you really need to demonstrate to Ofsted is that you reflect on your practice and look for ways to improve.

 

I'd say you do that in spades!

 

Maz

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thanks maz - you are so supportive

 

quote: Ultimately your practice would remain the same

this is what i said to the parent after she had got cross - that regardless of what was written down (a plan that i could tear up if she wanted me too) her child's experiences and the support I offered would remain the same

 

quote: was especially interested in your comment about the parent who felt her daughter should move on at two, and the perceived distinction between daycare and people who 'mind' children. That got me thinking about the title "Childminder" and I wondered if this in itself is the root of some of the problems you encounter when you 'compete' with pre-schools, nurseries etc?

 

I was really surprised when she raised it because - for one, her child is so happy and settled, 2 - parents are always full of praise and 3 - I never think that when a child arrives they will only be with me for a short time, I always assume its until preschool/reception.

In the latest edition of "who minds" there is a letter posted about a change of title for child minders with a list of suggestions - some reasonable, some ridiculous but I do think it's a really valid point and pehaps a title change could help to dispel some of the myths around what a child minder offres to children and their families

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In the latest edition of "who minds" there is a letter posted about a change of title for child minders with a list of suggestions - some reasonable, some ridiculous but I do think it's a really valid point and pehaps a title change could help to dispel some of the myths around what a child minder offres to children and their families

That would be an interesting debate to have on here, dcn. Do you think it merits its own thread on here so as to keep it separate from the issue of parents' expectations, or do you view the two things as interconnected with the parent's issue you described in your original post?

 

Maz

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That would be an interesting debate to have on here, dcn. Do you think it merits its own thread on here so as to keep it separate from the issue of parents' expectations, or do you view the two things as interconnected with the parent's issue you described in your original post?

 

Maz

 

was thinking of starting a new thread actually so will do that now :o

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