Kayley was already an experienced and well qualified early years practitioner prior to becoming a childminder. After leaving school, Kayley did a degree in Early Childhood Studies at the University of the West of England and subsequently achieved Early Years Professional Status, whilst working in a nursery, managing the Under 2’s section there. Kayley chose a career in childminding a couple of years ago, so that she could combine working and caring for her young son, “I’m enjoying it. It’s nice to work from home and I like the freedom of being a childminder”.
Kayley works alone and her setting is a home environment with a dedicated playroom and large garden. The environment is relaxed and whilst there is a playroom the children make use of the whole of the ground floor of the house, having opportunities to access a range of stimulating and creative resources and activities to engage and challenge them. There is a large emphasis on providing quality outdoor experiences for the children in her care. Kayley explains “I base most of our ethos on being outdoors”. The children attend regular forest school sessions and the large garden is well equipped and includes chickens that they had raised from eggs!
Kayley has recently finished the first full submission of the Bristol Standard, using the e-submission format, finding the template easy to use. Kayley found the process of reflecting on her practice valuable, “being self-reflective was good for me, to look at my practice and what I was doing and what I could be doing”.
The target that has had the biggest impact has been to change the way Kayley plans. The setting’s planning is now less rigid and follows the children’s lead. Kayley found that making changes to the way she planned became a target for many of her submission’s dimensions. The more relaxed attitude to planning enables Kayley to become a facilitator; at the mention of ice, the children wanted to play with ice, Kayley was able to implement this without having planned or prepared for it. Kayley believes that it is important for children to be able to voice their ideas and she can plan from those. For example; a child had asked to make gingerbread, Kayley had not foreseen this, “I wouldn’t have put this down in my planning as it’s not Christmas”, but in response to the child’s wishes, would now plan to get the ingredients so that they could make it the following week. She describes how, in the past she would have planned from what she believed might have been the children’s interests, but has discovered that sometimes it transpires that the children are not necessarily interested in what she thought they would be. Kayley explains that really listening to the children’s voices and views is beneficial and a positive way forward. “I think it’s nice that their voices are being heard a bit more”.
When asked what her top tip would be to others considering embarking on the Bristol Standard journey, Kayley explained that attending the monthly Bristol Standard support group for childminders had been the most beneficial part of her Bristol Standard experience, “Definitely go to the monthly sessions, I think that was the best bit about the Bristol Standard”. The support, sharing of ideas and getting inspiration from childminding colleagues has proved invaluable, enabling Kayley to identify potential targets for improvement and progression. “It was nice to hear what other people do, to get ideas and talk through things. I found that most beneficial.”.
For Kayley, embarking on the Bristol Standard journey, has been a positive experience, finding it a useful tool for reflection, inspiring her to develop and grow her setting, ensuring positive outcomes for the children in her care. “You can always improve”.