Handprints of Hope Handprints of Hope


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Welcome to my blog


I thought it was about time I started a blog to give parents and potential parents a flavour of what our daily life entails.


By samanthagowland, Feb 17 2016 08:10PM

I can't say I watched GMTV this morning so I seem to have missed the controversy about the role of a childminder. I haven't time to watch TV on a morning on account of setting up for the day ahead. I've young minds to stretch, fires to ignite, ...oh wait... apparently I've got it wrong, I'm not an educator according to some nobody on TV this morning. What a waste of my degree and qualified teacher status it seems.

On a serious note whilst I'm sure all my parents/grandparents/carers know and understand the role of a childminder as an educator of young minds the general population do not.

It is more than overdue that society was educated on the role of a childminder as more than a mere 'babysitter' and it needs to start with the media who often interchange, often within the same paragraph, the words 'childminder' and 'babysitter' without understanding the difference.

A childminder needs to be registered and is inspected by Ofsted, they follow the Early Years Foundation Stage just like other early years providers. They are required to be insured, to have an up to date paediatric first aid certificate (12 hour course every 3 years), to have a food hygiene certificate and to be inspected by environmental health. They are required to attend safeguarding training, have policies and procedures and although they’re not now required to write them down, risk assessments.

Childminders observe learning, plan for next steps, put interventions in place for delays and review the whole process reflecting on what did or didn't work. They make learning fun, creative and engaging. Every child is recognised as an individual and planning incorporates both the child’s interests and their developmental needs.

They attend training that they pay for themselves, often on weekends and evenings as they work during the day and unlike other early years providers they don't generally have cover to allow them to attend training 9-5 Monday -Friday.

Babysitters generally look after your child (in your home), there are no legal requirements for them to do that job. Ofsted don’t visit them; they don’t need to have any first aid training nor do they need to think about or plan for your child’s development.

By samanthagowland, May 2 2014 01:31PM

Mud kitchens seem to be the latest craze, they're everywhere on the childminding forums.

I've read lots of ideas about why a permanant structure is beneficial. I'm still not convinced. My garden is my garden and really how many regular households have a wooden (it can be made of other materials) construction in their gardens?? Ok I concede some people do have 'state of the art' bbq's out there but is it really the same thing?

A little personal trip down memory lane reminds me of the joy of making 'mud pies' with old tins and soil and water. I can recall many a summer's day playing in the dirt with whatever was to hand- weeds, grass, soil, baby milk powder we'd found in the bin(I'm not advocating that). We were engrossed in the activity we'd chose for many an hour. This was when TV was restricted to 3 channels and not very much to watch, computers were just emerging and the internet was not even imagined by regular people.

Hence I've decided to embrace the principles of a mud kitchen without an actual mud kitchen. For the unimaginative this simply means providing the space and resources(old cooking pans and utensils not to mention an array of natural materials).

In my garden the children will find plenty of herbs and plants of different textures, collections of pebbles and an assortment of chopped willow branches/sticks alongside sand and soil/compost. I have provided a collection of pans, sieves, pudding trays, spoons etc. Water is freely available from the water butt, they know how to fill watering cans as they water the plants we grow.

A typical 'permanant' mud kitchen.
A typical 'permanant' mud kitchen.
My own children working together and creating their own oven.
My own children working together and creating their own oven.
My own children again using their imagination and what's to hand.
My own children again using their imagination and what's to hand.

By samanthagowland, Jan 15 2014 10:31AM

I recently read this article:


It was refreshing to see that I'm not alone in my belief that children need to play and be children. They need to experience boredom to develop creativity. Children need to be allowed to problem solve for themselves and not have everything done for them.

As a parent and practitioner I see my role as one of an observer and enabler. As an observer I am enlightened to what interests an individual, the type of learner an individual is, what the individual needs to make progress. As an enabler my role is to use all my observations (and educational knowledge) to ensure the individual (especially the very young) is given opportunities to extend their knowledge. Now this might be simply to provide new experiences through additional resources, visits to different environments or through questioning understanding and/or explaining concepts when needed.

My role is "not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." (William Butler Yeats)

By samanthagowland, Jun 28 2013 07:20PM

What a great opportunity this morning's walk to school was. We normally travel in the car on account of dropping off to two schools. This morning it was only one school and I was without the car for other reasons so walk we did.

As mentioned previously it wasn't the best weather this morning. Good old British drizzle. There were numerous puddles on the way to the school and (obviously) back home again. To make it even worse(for me) I slipped and fell, think I managed it with dignity, as we hurried around the rather traffic congested school corner. My learning opportunity - take that corner more carefully, it's not like it's the first time it's got me either.

However this blog isn't supposed to be about my learning curve but that of the children's.

Mathematics - easily covered. Plenty of puddles to count, different sizes and shapes to boot. I'd be pushing it to suggest colours but fifty shades isn't just a book, it's a whole lot of muddy puddles. Perhaps we should have put out some containers and we could have squeezed in capacity ;o)

Understanding the World - weather, even if it is just one kind 'rain'. Oh and the laws of gravity - now I knew that fall was an intentional act ;o) The sacrifices I make in the name of education.

Communication and Language - all those new words to describe the excitement of finding yet 'another' 'puddl'e, a 'bigger one' and the big 'splash' and 'splashes' that occured when they 'jump' and 'jumped' in and the water went 'higher'. Are you feeling it yet? Admit it you so want to be 2 year old again? seriously, watching someone so excited to be able to jump in the biggest, muckiest puddle they can find is quite rewarding. Not so rewarding when they then need to be coaxed back inside on arriving home.

Physical development - Obviously running to the next and the next puddle and then jumping and jumping and jumping. Did I mention running and jumping??

Personal, Social, Emotional Development - Self confidence knows no bounds when faced with a puddle or three. Relationships areb definately made when having to take turns and we've a shared interest in big puddles as toddlers have. I have yet to find a toddler not interested in splashing in puddles, you have all met their role model 'Peppa Pig' haven't you? The biggest learning experience has got to be how to manage feelings and behaviour on having to say good bye to the puddles though!

By samanthagowland, Jun 28 2013 06:25PM

Well out of the five original caterpillars we now have four butterflies. I'm not sure who has been more excited, myself or the children.

I'll be setting them free very soon, I would have done so this morning but it was raining. I've never seen butterflies around in the rain so I wasn't sure if it would be a good idea to let them go then but it's much clearer right now so I'm assuming it's more appropriate. I would have waited until the children I mind were here but we're heading in to the weekend and I have doubts about their survival if they'reentirely dependent on me.

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