How to become a childminder

It''s not just babysitting; what does it cost to start a childminding business and how much can a childminder earn? investigates

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What is a childminder and who is becoming a childminder suited to?

If you don’t want to commit to opening a day nursery, in which a team of trained carers look after a large group of children on adapted premises, becoming a registered childminder can represent a much less onerous option.

A childminder is defined by industry body PACEY as someone who looks after one or more children under the age of eight for more than a total of two hours a day in exchange for payment.

Becoming a childminder is typically a more flexible and short-term option than the heavily regulated alternatives – you can become a childminder in your own home and charge hourly, rather than termly, childminder fees.

For these reasons, becoming a registered childminder is a popular option for those looking to supplement their income between jobs with a part-time business or if you’re looking for a low-cost business opportunity. Becoming a childminder is especially popular for people who have an enforced lay-off or are taking a break from their regular job, most commonly for pregnancy and childbirth.

Faye Burton set up her own childminding business, Tiddly Winks Kids, after taking some take time off from her job in the police force when she fell pregnant. Burton says that becoming a childminder “has been convenient, as I’ve been able to raise my own daughter alongside the children I look after and earn a bit of extra money,” she explains. “Going from having very serious conversations about police work to spending my working day with young children did take a bit of adjusting, though!”

As with starting any childcare business, you will be most successful as a childminder if you enjoy the company of children and will relish helping children to learn, grow and develop.

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Childminding also benefits from having very low start-up costs compared to similar alternatives, you can become a childminder for less than £10,000. The most expensive part of becoming a childminder will normally be the initial certification and registration process.

Action point:
See if you can get a Start Up Loan to help you finance starting a childminding business
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How to become a childminder: What you’ll need

  • Patience and effective communication skills
  • Premises or a home to host children, ideally in a good locale
  • A background in childcare is ideal (but not a necessity)
  • Good organisation and administration skills
  • You need to be motivated by more than money
  • You need to be registered with Ofsted; The Early Years Register and/or The Childcare Register

Patience and effective communication skills

“It goes without saying that to become a childminder you will need a good manner with children, and the ability to stay patient and upbeat. Not every child you look after will be well-behaved. “It sounds obvious, but the most important thing is you really need to like kids,” says Stacey Baker, a childminder working in Droylsden, Manchester.

Premises to host children

You will a need a house or flat with enough space to host and look after multiple children – a good garden is normally a selling point for many childminders. It also helps to be near local primary schools, too, as you are likely to drop off and pick up any older children from school as part of your role as a childminder.

Experienced in childcare

Part of your role will be teaching children under five basic literacy, numeracy and other skills – essentially fulfilling the role of a parent – so you should have previous experience of looking after children. “Experience is important,” explains Tiddly Winks founder Burton:

“Although I was raising my first child when I started and learnt on the job, there was a 12-year age gap between me and my little brother growing up so I did kind of know what made babies and children tick. I would imagine childminders who don’t have their own kids would have some sort of nursery or daycare background.”

Good organisation and administration skills

You should also be aware that childminding is not babysitting. Despite becoming a childminder having less requirements than opening a nursery, you will have to undergo a rigorous and long-winded registration process and the teaching element requires you to keep ongoing assessment records for children under five.

“A lot of people who start out as childminders don’t realise just how much paperwork is involved,” explains Baker. “You need to be a fairly organised person to become a childminder as there’s a lot of day-to-day administration you have to do.”

Don’t have money on the mind, do it for the love

Becoming a childminder is also not the best option if money is your primary motivator – as you will see from our guide to how much a childminder can earn, the money you earn can fluctuate wildly with parents’ childminding needs constantly changing. “There’s no doubt that the money is the most stressful thing about becoming a childminder,” admits Rachel. “But seeing the children grow and develop under your care is a really rewarding experience.

“Often, you spend more time with them than their own parents do – every day is different, with a different set of challenges, but I’ve enjoyed it immensely.”

Ofsted registers

To become a registered childminder, you will need to register on one or both of the following Ofsted registers:

  • The Early Years Register – it is compulsory to register on this if you will be caring for young children up to reception-school age.
  • The Childcare Register – this is compulsory if you are caring for children aged five to seven years.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.

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