Name of Setting: Sue Bell – Childminder, Sunderland
Sue Bell became a childminder 18 years ago in order to be able to look after her own two sons herself –rather than return to her career in retail. Sue offers a home-based childcare service to local families in Sunderland. She has twice been recognised as an outstanding practitioner by Ofsted (2009 & 2010) and she is also a lead practitioner in an active network that offers advice, support and mentoring to other local home based carers. Sue currently cares for seven children; she offers before and after school care to three boys (George Jack and Liam), and looks after three girls under five (Poppy, Imogen, Holly) during the school day, one of whom goes to Nursery. In the school holidays she also provides care to Imogen’s brother Jake. Sue’s day is carefully managed to combine school and nursery collections/drop offs with a rich range of indoor and outdoor play experiences for the two girls who spend all day with her. Sue has an enclosed garden which can be accessed through the kitchen or the playroom, and she also makes good use of spaces and places within her locality.
I visited Sue on a Friday morning in March just after she returned from the school run. Sue, Imogen (3 years) and Holly (11 months) were already in the garden. Sue involves the children in deciding what to put out in the garden and when I arrived there were two pop up tents out, as well as wheeled toys and a box of small world people. Sue provides playful companionship to the two girls in whatever they decide to do. Over the morning Imogen’s play evolved into a car washing session and Sue supported this by providing warm soapy water and sponges, and extended it by offering Imogen the chance to blow bubbles. Imogen spent much of the morning pottering in and out, moving between the playroom, kitchen and garden. Sue kept a careful eye on her and on Holly, but also gave her the freedom to play and move towards whatever took her interest. Sue is highly attuned to each child’s needs and is quick to respond; for example Holly was ready for her bottle earlier than usual so Sue brought it out into the garden, after a few minutes on Sue’s knee with her bottle Holly was ready to play again.Sue also makes effective use of places in the locality and she told me about some of her regular trips out and about as a child-minder.
‘I live within a ten minute walk of two great parks, which are very different Thompson Park has the usual swings climb frames fields trees plants etc… Roker Park also has those facilities but also has large sand play areas, ponds, band stands etc… I also have a Metro train station at the end of my street which in itself is a great source of fun and education but also enables us to go exploring much further afield on the train, for example to farms etc. But best of all, I live about 15 minutes’ walk from the sea front where there are lots of beaches and coves to explore. Of course, I do have the usual time restrictions because of school runs but we usually turn those into mini adventures too!When we arrive at school car park the girls have grassed areas to explore, then in the play yards where we wait to pick up the boys, they have painted games on the ground -snakes and ladders hop scotch etc….there are also climbing frames balance beams etc. which we make good use of. I as a Child-minder am positively spoilt for choice of wonderful outdoor areas to take the children on amazing adventures which is why I love my job!
Sue recognises that it is vital to promote the value and importance of outdoor play to her families. She works in close partnership with parents and they in turn support her to make effective use of outdoors by providing spare clothing.
Positive Benefit and Impact
Sue has a warm caring approach and provides a ‘home-from-home’ experience to the children in her care. She supports free-flow between indoors and her garden and she uses it all year round. Imogen demonstrated confidence and independence, managing her own welly boots and collecting a tissue from the kitchen when she needed it. Holly also enjoys being outside and the fresh air certainly helped her to sleep well at the end of a busy morning. In recognition of the importance of physical development as a prime area of learning, Sue places a good emphasis on energetic outdoor play. She also understands the importance of nurturing the characteristics of effective learning, and her playful interactions support children’s explorations in the garden and the locality. Sue has to manage her time extremely carefully (see ‘A day in the life….’ below), however the effective use of outdoors is embedded into her daily practice and by using the wide range of local facilities she ensures that the children in her care have rich and enabling outdoor experiences that support learning across the whole EYFS curriculum.
|A day in the life of a Childminder: Sue Bell|
|7.30am||George(10yrs) Jack(9yrs) and his brother Liam(10yrs) arrive for breakfast|
|8.20am||Leave for school run with the boys and pick up Imogen (3 years), Holly (11months) and sister Poppy (3yr 8months) from their homes.|
|8.45am||Drop Poppy at nursery|
|8.50am||Drop the George, Jack and Liam at school|
|9am||A two and a half hour session, I take Imogen and Holly back to my house/garden/park/play group….|
|11.45||Pick up Poppy from nursery|
|12.10pm||Lunch at my house/garden –or a picnic in the park…….the time after lunch is ‘play time’………. Influenced by weather, how tired the girls are etc……..|
|2.45pm||Leave for school run to pick up the boys.|
|3.30pm||Leave the school yard|
|4pm||Start returning children to their homes……… first drop offs are at 4pm we then come back to my home, or occasionally stop off at the park for half an hour, have a healthy snack and drink|
|5 – 5.30pm||Last drop offs –children returned to their homes –the end of my working day!|