How to Choose a Childminder
Choosing a childminder for your children can be a difficult task. Finding a childminder who you and your child click with, and who can provide childcare at the times you need it, isn’t always easy.
It can also be difficult to know which questions to ask when meeting a prospective childminder. Following is a list of tips that you may find useful.
The First Visit
When you visit, take your child. Allow the childminder to interact with your child and observe how your child reacts to them. It may take your child a while to warm up to them, but the childminder should be open, friendly and non-pressuring. Talk to the childminder before the meeting to arrange a time when you will be able to stay for a decent amount of time – 1 to 2 hours – as this will give your child a chance to get acquainted and for you to get a better idea of whether they will be a good fit for each other.
What to Ask
Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you wish – a good childminder will be happy to answer any you may have and to help you feel at ease when making your choice. You may wish to ask questions such as –
- Will they provide food for your child, and if so, what kind? Do they provide cooked meals, or simple snacks and sandwiches?
- What kind of discipline methods do they use, and how they would deal with certain behaviours (such as snatching, hitting and other normal behaviours for young children)?
- How much time do they generally spend out and about with the children? Do they visit the park/play in the garden/go on outings to local places of interest?
- Do they drive?
- How many children will they generally have in their care when they will have your child?
You will also wish to enquire about costs. Childminders generally charge around £3-£4 an hour. Some will make additional charges for food and drink, whereas others will include a certain number of meals and snacks in their costs. The childminder will have a sheet or two that you will be able to take home which will have detailed information about costs, notice periods, what will happen in the event of sickness and what you will be expected to provide (spare clothing, sunblock, etc).
And, of course, you will need to find out whether or not your chosen childminder will be able to look after your children at the times you need. Good childminders are often well-booked, and have waiting lists, so it is important that you start to seek a childminder with plenty of time to spare if you are returning to work, for example, after maternity leave.
As with any professional relationship, being upfront and honest from the beginning is the best way to avoid problems later down the line. If you have any doubts about a childminder, don’t feel pressure to hire her because you gave her the impression you would when you met. A good childminder will fully understand the importance of your decision and will certainly have no hard feelings if you choose to go with somebody else – after all, your child’s well-being is the most important thing.