In the context of a rising interest in the “defence of children” and an emphasis on early learning, the educational skills of childminders are disregarded from the outset, despite policies designed to reinforce a professional approach. How then can they establish their professional legitimacy in the educational field amongst parents who often prefer crèches for their children of walking age, which they believe are a better preparation for kindergarten? This article is based on two corpus of in-depth interviews with childminders (36 interviews in Loire-Atlantique and Haute-Vienne carried out between 2010 and 2014) and parents of young children (32 couples interviewed as part of a qualitative post-survey follow-up to the Modes de garde et d’accueil des jeunes enfants [modes of childcare and child reception facilities for young children] survey 2015). It highlights several strategies to increase professional recognition (material evidence of work such as a games room, activities, and notebooks, in response to the suspicion of inactivity attached to the image of a housewife).The article shows that strategies to increase professional recognition are implemented by most of the childminders encountered, not only by those who regard themselves as the most “professional,” or are designated as such by more qualified employees supervising their work.Finally, the article stresses that efforts aimed at professional legitimacy are all the more effective since proof of educational skills, far from having a unilateral meaning, are open to varied interpretations, both on the part of parents with differentiated social characteristics as well as bychildminders themselves.
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