When I was a registered child minder I heard about a drop-in for child minders, I went along and discovered that it wasn’t well attended, which I thought was a shame.
Later when I also became employed as a support child minder I took over the running of the drop-in, we were extremely lucky, in that we managed to acquire the playroom at the local children’s centre to hold this weekly event.This was fantastic as we were not charged for the use of the facility, plus the toys were already there and we had the use of a kitchen for making drinks and preparing snacks.
As a support child minder I invited along the potential child minders that I was mentoring, one particular shy lady requested that I meet her outside of the centre, so that she didn’t have to walk in alone, I gladly did this and she became a regular, as did several others.
During the drop-in we gave one another support and chatted while we played with the children.
As I was also there as a support child minder I would give everyone the details of any upcoming training that I knew of.
I also started a vacancy list in the hope of matching parents looking for child care to minders with vacancies. Half way through the morning I made tea and coffee for the adults and juice for the children who also had a snack of fruit followed by a biscuit each.
In the beginning I had to take everything needed for this each week, but later we were allocated a cupboard meaning non perishables could be left there, the children’s centre supplied the milk and fruit so I charged a nominal fee of £1 per child minder and nothing for the children. At the end of the year I used any money accumulated towards a Christmas party, we all contributed with food and I bought a few gifts for party bags for the children, I even managed to persuade a male member of staff to dress up as Santa for us. At the end of the morning we were expected to tidy everything away and leave the room as we found it.
During the school holidays many of us had extra older children who also came along, so because the toys at the children’s centre were really for younger children I took along some suitable activities, like wool to make a woolly doll.
Before having to give up child minding due to ill health we had a great variety of up to 10 child minders and their children attending this worth while group, which meant the child minders got some much needed adult conversation and the children learned to socialise with more children than they would at their child minders home.
I would suggest that all child minders attend a similar group, if there isn’t one in your area, why not start one yourself. If there is not a children’s centre playroom available, as long as suitable premises can be found perhaps the child minders could each take along a few toys, or hold it at each others homes, as we did for a while when the children’s centre was having some building work done.
I would love to hear any other child minders experiences of attending a similar group.
As always questions/comments are welcome.