How to become a childminder
If you love kids and don’t mind paperwork, becoming a childminder could be a flexible, low-cost start-up option. Startups explores what it takes...
- What is a childminder and who is it suited to
- Childcare courses and regulations
- Becoming a childminder: Finding work, paperwork and insurance
- How much does it cost to become a childminder?
- How much can you earn as a childminder?
- Childminder tips and useful contacts?
What is a childminder and who is it 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 childminder can represent a much less onerous option.
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, childminding is typically a more flexible and short-term option than the heavily regulated alternatives – most childminders operate by themselves from their own home and charge hourly, rather than termly, rates of payment.
For these reasons, becoming a registered childminder is a popular option for those looking to supplement their income between jobs or if their partner is the main breadwinner. It 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. “It 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 any childcare business, you will be most successful if you enjoy the company of children and helping them learn, grow and develop. Childminding also benefits from having very low start-up costs compared to similar alternatives – the most expensive part will normally be the initial certification and registration process.
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It goes without saying 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.
You will also 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 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.
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 Faye 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.”
You should also be aware that childminding is not babysitting. Despite 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 Stacey Baker. “You need to be a fairly organised person as there’s a lot of day-to-day administration you have to do.”
Becoming a childminder is also not the best option if money is your primary motivator – as you will see from our guide to earnings, 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.”
Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.