Education Quandary: I want to become a childminder, but friends say the job has become a nightmare under the Early Years Foundation Stage

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The Independent Online

Hilary's advice

All registered child carers who look after children under five now have to follow the Early Years Foundation Stage, which is the new official framework meant to ensure that children are properly cared for, and that all aspects of their learning and development are catered for.

If you want to become a childminder for tiny children you will have to register with Ofsted, and be inspected by them to make sure you are meeting the requirements of the EYFS. So, yes, the job is much, much more formalised and bureaucratic than it has been in the past, and if you are allergic to form-filling and box-ticking, then being a modern childminder will definitely not be for you.

But there are a lot of resources to help you navigate the EYFS, and many childminders have taken it in their stride. The hardest part, they say, is at the beginning, when you have to get your head round the jargon and paperwork, but afterwards it is mainly common sense and often just puts a formal framework around what you have done before.

There are even some childminders who have found it positive. They welcome the training courses, and say it makes them think about all-round child development and that the record-keeping is a useful way of tracking children's progress.

It all depends on your attitude. The EYFS could be part of your problem, or your solution, depending on how you look at it.

Readers' advice

Yes, it is a nightmare. You can tell by how many people are, like me, no longer doing it. Ask the National Association of Child Minders about what is happening to its membership figures if you don't believe me. Childminders are expected to do a lot of extra training for EYFS, but no one pays them to do it – and in six years' time they will all have to have an NVQ Level 3.

Parents choose child minders because they want their children to be in a homely place, but the new regulations just mean childminders spend all their time filling out forms.

Melanie Worsfold

Essex

Why are you so defeatist about this without even knowing anything about it? One of the good things about EYFS is that it means you can talk more to other child-minders because you are all following the same framework and know what each other is talking about. I've found it has made us feel much more supportive of one another.

Lil Easton

London N19

Childminding is a professional job not just something easy and convenient to earn money on the side. Don't do it if you think you fancy having a few children running around in your home, and if you do decide to go ahead you must accept that it is just like being a teacher, with all the inspections and rulebooks that they have to follow.

Joanna Johns

Nottingham

Next Week’s Quandary

My daughter’s school runs an art trip to Paris every year. In the past there have been several incidents of drunken and other bad behaviour. The art teacher is feeble and cannot keep control. I don’t want my daughter to go but she says I am being unreasonable.

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to h.wilce@btinternet. com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries are online at www.hilarywilce.com. They can be searched by topic.

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