Before I start, I want to say that I’m sure there are some lovely childminders out there and that lots of other parents have good experiences and lots of trust for the childminders they have carefully chosen to look after their kids. I’m not trying to tar all childminders with the same brush, but simply put out there my reasons for not using childminders myself, and for defending my decision when people start to judge nurseries.
I have spent time not working and looking after my children myself, whether that be because I’ve been single and living on benefits briefly (yes, I’ve been there, try not to judge), or whilst on maternity leave. This has given me an interesting insight into how childminders work, and it’s left me a little shocked.
Every morning, and every afternoon for the school run, I come across two large vehicles which carry several children. These vehicles belong to childminders. How do I know? Because when we first moved to the road, these women engaged in conversation with me and offered their services should I decide to return to work. Let’s just say that if I do decide to go back, I won’t be taking them up on their offer.
Every day, twice a day, even in the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing lately, these two women will stand and chat to each other in the middle of the road (it’s a quiet cul-de-sac so they generally will just literally stand in the middle of the road, their cars either side, chatting away).
Whilst they are doing this, they have the younger children in their care sat in the cars waiting for them. There have been occasions where I’ve returned from the school run with my younger children, got in my car, driven my daughter to nursery and returned again to find the same two women stood having their catch up in the road… This is not, in my opinion, behaviour I would want the people looking after my children to be displaying.
Ok, so maybe it’s just an isolated incident, and these two women are just not good at their job? Fair enough. But during my time off work I have also witnessed childminders, always in pairs, turning up to places like the play park, or a soft play and then letting the kids in their care run riot. Often there are around 5 or 6 children per adult.
As a mum of three, I struggle sometimes to keep an eye on all of mine, there is no way these children are being properly cared for. It seems that these childminders are more interested in having a good chat with a friend than actually paying attention to those children in their care.
Now I’m not claiming to be a saint, sometimes I will sit and check my phone or just relax a little in these places, but then I’m not the one being paid to ensure somebody else’s child doesn’t get hurt. I mean this morning I saw one of these children sit and start trying to eat a stick on the ground in the park and the childminder was nowhere to be seen…
There’s often bad press about nurseries, claiming that children cannot possibly be cared for with the ratio of adults to kids, but I disagree. These ratios are similar to school and children will learn to play independently or as part of a small group in this situation.
I strongly believe a nursery setting is helping children prepare for school in a way that childminders simply can’t. Even if a childminder has other children in their care of a similar age, the relationships a child will form with these other children will more strongly resemble that of siblings, than a class group.
Nurseries provide stability and routine, which is not always the case with a childminder. Both of my older children have been in nursery since a young age and I believe this has helped to prepare them for school. They’ve gained confidence, independence and new skills from being at nursery, they’ve made friends and they’ve formed attachments with the nursery workers, which reassures me that I made the right decision.
Ultimately, as long as you do your research and are confident that the caregiver you go for is going to look after your child then it doesn’t matter which option you go for, but based on my observations and experiences I would always opt for a nursery over a childminder.
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