Pebbles Childcare was the first winner of the brand new category ‘Childminding Business of The Year’ at the Nursery World Awards 2018. Bridgit Brown has built up this childminding business, based in Worthing, West Sussex, over the last 3 years, drawing on her 20 years of childcare experience in a huge range of settings.
I was therefore delighted when Chloe Webster, who works at Pebbles Childcare, offered to write a guest blog, detailing some of the many benefits of home-based childcare. You can see how this good practice supports children’s holistic wellbeing and development.
Home-based childcare has countless benefits, despite a sad lack of understanding and recognition from society, other childcare professionals and parents alike, who still struggle to see home-based childcare as a viable career and childcare option.
Home-based childcare provides children and their families with a home-from-home childcare environment, which for the parents enables them to build up a friendly rapport with their child’s caregiver, and the process of walking into someone’s home, instantly puts you at ease, making the parent as well as the child feel comfortable.
For the children, home-based childcare provides an individual and holistic approach to childcare and with reduced ratios, provides them with a sense of ‘family’ amongst the flexible, real-life learning experiences that home-based childcare has the freedom to provide.
In addition to this, home-based childcare providers are able to offer a more flexible service for parents and families as well as being more spontaneous and ‘in the moment’ in terms of planning learning opportunities and experiences.
Within a home-based childcare setting, children are able to form relationships with others of varying ages and these provide incredible learning opportunities in themselves. Whilst meeting the needs of children of varying ages can be quite challenging at times for us as practitioners, the benefits for the children completely outweigh these challenges.
They learn from each other, learn compassion and understanding, develop relationships incredibly early on and as previously mentioned, the sense of family and solidarity that the children develop not only with their caregivers within a home-based childcare setting, but with each other provides the children with secure, long-lasting attachments on a much deeper level than they may experience within a larger setting and within their own age group.
Similarly, children develop language faster when interacting and exposed to this consistently from their early days, whilst the older children quickly develop a sense of responsibility and independence as they understand, support and help to meet the needs of the younger children in the setting; this in itself is an invaluable learning experience and has incredible benefits on their self-esteem and their understanding of not only the world, but their ability to form relationships and attachments.
Another benefit of home-based childcare is the freedom to plan ‘in the moment’ and be responsive and flexible in our approach to the activities and learning experiences we provide. Within a home-based childcare setting we are in a much better position to provide hands-on and ‘real-life’ experiences as it is so much easier for us to plan and facilitate outings around the children’s interests.
Outdoor play and learning play a huge part in our pedagogy and the children in our care benefit greatly from daily outings and adventures within our local and wider community.
In Early Years, we are all aware of the incredible benefits outdoor play has on our children’s learning and development and from a home-based childcare perspective we are incredibly lucky to take these experiences one step further and bring our children’s interests and learning to life on a daily basis, without having to worry about calling in extra staff, parental permissions and planning outings weeks in advance.
The outings and adventures we embark upon with our children on a daily basis, whether it be a nature walk to collect natural items reflective of the current season to learn about and explore the season and the physical changes and impact the season has on the natural world, or a simple outing to the supermarket for the children to choose ingredients for their baking activity, a train journey to learn about signals and lights, or simply taking our pet beagle for a walk and stumbling across wild ponies within our local area; the possibilities and the benefits of these outings truly are endless and the children gain so much more confidence, knowledge and experience by experiencing and exploring these environments first hand.
Not only this, but by being responsive and responding to the children’s interests instantly and incorporating these into our daily outings, we are enabling the children to take charge of their own learning and through the hands-on, ‘real-life’ experiences that being outdoors provides; sparks their curiosity and critical thinking significantly more than if they were just shown the experience in a book.
As a setting, we are so keen to provide our children with the most relevant, real-life experiences and promote overall life-skills as well as meeting learning and development needs, that we developed our own weekly beach school sessions for our children in January 2018 and as a result of this, our children have increased in confidence when facing the elements, adverse weather and have an incredible curiosity and knowledge of the natural world and this has had significant benefits on their confidence, learning, curiosity and their risk-taking within their outdoor exploration.
Similarly, risk and challenge are much easier to facilitate within a home-based childcare environment than in larger settings and this is something we believe the children benefit from. Children are encouraged to explore, test their limits and challenge themselves both physically and cognitively within a flexible, trusting environment supported by confident and knowledgeable adults as we believe the benefits the children receive through exploring and managing their own risks in their play, completely outweigh the potential risk factors and consequences that may occur.
Through exploring and taking and managing risks as part of everyday practice and routines, children become not only confident and critical thinkers, but this also promotes their self-esteem, trust in each other and the practitioners who support them, as well as providing them with essential life skills as they explore and partake in activities involving the elements (fire, water etc) as well as taking physical risks through tree climbing, swimming in open water as well as using real tools and wood as part of their construction and imaginative play.
Home-based childcare has endless benefits on not only the learning and development of the children who attend, but also for the families of these children who feel confident in leaving their children within a familiar, flexible, individual home-from-home environment.
You can find the Pebbles Childcare website and blog here: http://www.pebbleschildcare.co.uk/