My name is Christine Connally and I have been an Au Pair in America Community Counselor since 2003. My service area includes: Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Prince George's County and Southern Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
Posted by Christine Connally on Jul 14, 2011No Comments
Are you familiar with the Air Quality Index? Do you know what it means when you hear on the weather forecast or news that it will be a code orange or code red day? It’s a good idea to learn what these codes mean. Discuss the codes with your host parents, so you know when it’s a good day to take the kids outdoors and when it would be best to find indoor activities, due to poor air quality.
Here is a website where you can check on air quality in your area.
Posted by Christine Connally on Apr 16, 20112 Comments
The Au Pair in America 25th Anniversary Cultural Fair was held at the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park on April 9, 2011. At the cultural fair, I recorded clips of au pairs sharing greetings in their native languages. Here is that video.
My apologies to the ladies from Colombia, whom somehow I missed recording. Colombia was there and represented very well by Carolina & Alexandra from our cluster as well as several other au pairs.
Posted by Christine Connally on Feb 10, 2010No Comments
It’s difficult when the weather is too snowy, wet or cold for kids to play outside and get all of that great kid energy out.
Here are some indoor physical activity ideas:
Create an indoor obstacle course in the largest, kid safe room in the house (playroom, basement, family room, etc.) Use large cushions and toys to create places for kids to climb over and under.
Turn on some music (kid music or other music that is appropriate) and dance.
Play freeze dance. Tell the kids to dance when you turn the music on and to stop dancing when the music stops. Let the kids take turns being the leader, controlling the music.
Do the limbo dance. Play music and challenge the kids to go under the limbo pole as it gets lower and lower.
Make paper airplanes and see how far they can fly. Remind the kids not to throw them at other other people.
Mark small squares on the floor and challenge the kids to see who can stay on their spot the longest. Make it tougher for older kids by having them stand on one foot.
Play ball toss games with soft items like rolled up socks. The younger the children the larger the container they are tossing into should be. For very young kids, use a laundry basket. For older kids, use something smaller like a box, basket or large plastic mixing bowl.
Build a fort using blanket and furniture like chairs and tables. Or if the kids have a small play tent put that up.
Play sports charades. Charades is a game where you act out something while people try to guess. You can do this with sports actions, using no equipment, just making the actions. For example – hitting a golf ball, pitching a baseball, serving a tennis ball, bowling, etc.)
Play with a hula hoop.
Try juggling, top spinning, or yo-yo contests.
Play hide and go seek.
Play “keep the balloon up”. Use one balloon per child or one balloon per small group. The group may add additional balloons as they gain control and awareness. *
* Safety Note – Balloons are a choking hazard, supervise children when playing with balloons and make sure to find and throw away any pieces of popped balloons.
Posted by Christine Connally on Feb 10, 2010No Comments
There are some toys that kids usually play with on their own while you watch on the sidelines. However, you can make those toys feel like something new and fun, by suggesting different ways to play with them. Another thing that will make it more fun is if you become actively involved rather than just watching.
Teach your host children how to say the names of some of the food and dishes.
Using English and/or your language play games where you are ordering food like in a restaurant. Take turns with who will be the waiter and who is the customer.
Come up with silly food combinations. For example: Who wants pickles on their slice of cake?
Play a guessing game where the kids have to figure out what food you are talking about. For example: I grow under the ground in the dirt. People eat me fried, mashed and baked. What am I? (a potato)
Play a game with setting the table using your language to ask for the different items (plate, spoon, etc.)
Ask the children to divide the foods up into the different food groups (vegetables, meat, dairy, etc)
Block, Lego Blocks and Other Building Toys
Divide all of the blocks up between the people playing by taking turns for each person to select block by block.
Suggest specific things to build (robots, house, mountain) and build together.
Challenge everyone to use all of their blocks.
Sort the blocks by color or shape and make patterns with them (red, blue, red blue or square, triangle, rectangle.) You can create a pattern and ask the child to fill in what comes next to continue the pattern.
Make the tallest block tower you can and let them knock it down (over and over again, if like most kids they like destroying things.)
Mr. Potato Head
Teach your host children the names of the different parts in your language.
Play a game asking them to put on the body parts by naming them in your language.
Play the same game above, but using Simon Says. Simon Says is a game where the leader gives commands by saying “Simon Says” first. For example, “Simon Says, put on the nose.” The players are only to follow the commands when the leader says Simon Says. If the leader doesn’t say Simon Says first and just says, “put on the nose,” and the player follows the command they are out of the game. Repeat the game multiple times, so all kids get a turn to be the leader at least once.
Posted by Christine Connally on Sep 23, 2009No Comments
Many au pairs and host families are looking for places to get flu shots this time of year. Au Pair insurance does not cover immunizations, but there are lots of places to get flu shots for $30 or less. If the host family is insisting that an au pair get a seasonal flu shot and she agrees to get it, the host family would be responsible for the expense.
Remember – The seasonal flu shot will not protect you from the H1N1 (swine flu.) If you are planning to get the seasonal flu vaccine, it is recommended that you get it as early as possible.
Posted by Christine Connally on Sep 14, 2009No Comments
We had a great cluster meeting last night at the Ikea cafe. The newest arrivals to the cluster got to meet some other au pairs. Everyone selected a duck in my first ever Duck of Choice Meeting.
We also discussed the seasonal flu, H1N1 and tips on how to stay healthy over the winter months. That may not sound like fun, but neither is getting sick. So, it’s better to discuss it now and learn ways to stay healthy than to get sick.
We had our quarterly Cluster Super Stars prize drawing. The big prize, a Washington, DC theme gift basket was won by Ayanda. It was her first cluster meeting and a lucky day for her. Wearing her Au Pair in America T-shirt must have brought her good luck!
Here is a picture of her with her prize.
Here’s how the Cluster Super Stars Program works…
Every time you participate in cluster events, you will earn tickets that will go into a drawing for a prize once a quarter (every 3 months.) Drawings will be held at the coffee meetings in March, June, September and December. You must be present at the meeting where I do the drawing to win.
Here is how you earn tickets:
Attend a Cluster Meeting – 1 ticket
Call or Email a New Au Pair – 1 ticket
Wear your APIA T-shirt to a Cluster Meeting or Event – 1 ticket
Participate in a Cluster Volunteer Event – 3 tickets
Do a Global Awareness Presentation – 3 tickets
At Cluster Meetings, there will sometimes be chances to earn extra tickets.
The more tickets you earn, the more chances you have to win the prize. All of the Cluster Super Stars Prizes will have a value of $20-$60.
Posted by Christine Connally on May 23, 2009No Comments
I participated in the City of Bowie Memorial Day Parade again this year. Here is a picture:
Tip for going to parades: Sit somewhere early or mid-way along the parade route. By the end, everyone runs out of candy. Each year, I buy more and I still run out before we get to the huge crowds at the end of the parade.
“As job opportunities shrink in Europe, the minimum $132.64 per week, plus room, board and tuition reimbursement that the au pair program guarantees looks increasingly appealing. A desire for adventure and what some call the “Obama factor” also is a lure for young Europeans, says Ms. Ferry. In March, nearly half of all of Au Pair in America’s applications came from Western Europe, compared with about a third in the same period last year.”
The British au pair and her host family featured in the article are in a nearby cluster in Northern VA.
Apply by Sunday, May 31st, 2009 and we will waive the $350 application fee. Plus, when you match with an au pair, you will receive a $100 Marriott TravelCard for use on all Marriott services. You may choose to decline the $100 Marriott TravelCard and apply the $100 value towards your program fee.
To qualify, you must be a new Au Pair in America family and your au pair must arrive by December 31st, 2009. Learn more about this special offer for new host families by contacting Alex Ramirez at (800) 928-7247 ext. 5161 or at email@example.com.
Posted by Christine Connally on Apr 11, 2009No Comments
If you are interested in a EduCare Companion for a summer arrival, now is a good time to apply.
EduCare in America – 30 hours of child care for approximately $264 per family, per week. This cost-effective program is the choice for families with full-time school-age children who require care primarily during the early morning and after school hours, with some weekend and evening hours.
There are a variety of colleges located in and around our cluster area. Scroll your mouse across the names of the colleges listed below, to find which ones to consider for where you live.
Note: Au pairs should take only one weekend course for their education requirement.
“Au pair” means “on par” or equal. Au pairs and 18-26 year olds from over 60 different countries who travel to the United States on a J-1 Visa to acquire a better understanding and appreciation of American life while living with an American family and caring for their young children.