Author Archives: Andrea McMains
Camp Au Pair In America
Keeping kids busy and active is the key to success for those long summer days!
When kids are out of school for the summer, it doesn’t take long for them to become bored. Boredom leads to sibling squabbles and mischief! Children don’t realize how much they miss the routine and predictability in their daily schedule. One solution is to make fun plans to keep them busy! Make Camp Au Pair!
Have a ready list of easy, fun activities that you can do with your host children. Get prepared for the upcoming week by getting a list of what is needed and asking the host parents for help in purchasing your supplies.
Use your Au Pair In America resources to find activities and ideas. Check your Au Pair portal for “150 Things to Do with Children”. This is jammed with super ideas.
My favorite outside activity is making super planet size bubbles, using a homemade bubble recipe. Ask your host dad to bend wire coat hangers into large circles with a handle. Outside on the driveway, pour the bubble mix into a shallow dish large enough for the circular coat hanger. A clean trash can lid works great. See how large you get can your bubbles to float!
Create your own bubble solution by gently combining 1 cup dish soap, 1 tbsp glycerine and 4 cups water in a large bucket.
Check out Au Pair in America’s Pinterest pages; Summer Fun & Summer Holidays pin boards for even more ideas.
10 fun ideas:
1.Dance-Put on classical music and move like trees or animals!
2.Cook-Freeze juice and make yummy popsicles!
3.Craft-Make a craft out of leftover Popsicle sticks or shells from the beach trip.
4.Make a tent-Use the Kitchen table and a sheet to make a cool place to get out of the sun on a hot day!
5.Dress up-Be Super man or a princess! Have fun pretending.
6. Chalk on the driveway-Endless fun with drawing pictures and hopscotch!
7.Balls-Make up a new game outside with the ball or just toss or kick
8.Read out loud and use funny voices to make all the characters come alive!
9.Bird watch-See how many kinds of birds you can find in your back yard. Look them up on Google to identify what kind of bird it is. Have a bird watch every day to keep track of them 10. Plant a sunflower– Plant seeds in a super, sunny place and water it every day!
Tips For Communicating About Problems With Your Host Family.
Tips For Communicating About Problems With Your Host Family.
How you approach an issue of concern with your host family will often determine the outcome. A thoughtful, respectful approach will prompt success, but an aggressive, demanding conversation is likely to harm your relationship. American culture is supportive of positive solution-focused communication. Talking about concerns is hard, but well worth the effort.
- Talk in person/ face to face: texts and chats can be misunderstood. Our body language helps us to succeed in communication. Respect the family’s privacy. AVOID talking/texting negatively about the family with a neighbor, family friend, or other family relatives.
- Choose a good time to talk: Ask for a time to talk when the other person can hear you and you will have enough time to get to the resolution. AVOID catching the host parents on their way out of the door or after a long day at work. Wait until you are calm.
- Are you doing your best? Before bringing a concern into a conversation with your host parents, think through your role in their family. It may pay off to build your relationship first. Ask yourself: have I demonstrated my value to the family dynamic? Being able to demonstrate through your behavior that you are… trustworthy, safe, use good judgment, prioritize your Au pair schedule, dependable…. will serve to help you in the discussion about your concern.
- Plan: Think about what you want to say ahead of time. State clearly about one problem and how it affects you. Do some research with your CC. Ask for information about program rules and norms. Be realistic.
- Listen: Give the other person a chance to tell their side of the concern completely. AVOID interrupting to defend yourself. Really try to hear from their perspective. Let the other person know you want to understand from their side, and you would be happy if they could see your perspective too.
- Role model that YOU are listening: You may not agree with the other perspective. Tell the other person you see that your behavior affected them or the importance of what you are now asking for. For example: “I see that when I was 30 minutes late, it made my host child feel scared and it lead you to think that I did not prioritize my au pair role.” State that you are glad that this information is being discussed together and that you are happy that it will make your relationship with the family better. You really want to find a solution and appreciate the feedback.
- Give Information but stay on track: AVOID letting the conversation move to a general discussion of your unhappiness. Be specific. If you are saying” when you were late last week …and when you said I cannot take the car… and when the children yelled at me…. and I had to take the dog out too… and then you didn’t ask me to go with you all to get ice cream.” it will be hard to single out a solution!
- Talk about your perspective: Avoid telling the other person how they are or are not, making them angry is not an effective way to find a solution together. It is ok to talk about how the behavior made you feel. Talk about the most difficult things. If you are not able to get them out in the open during this conversation, no solution can be made. For example: “When you don’t involve me in your plans outside my work schedule, it makes me feel like an employee not really an important part of your family.”
- What is the solution? Americans have a saying: “don’t be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution.” How do you see a solution for the concern? Be specific:” I would feel better about my relationship with the family if you did ask me sometimes to go with you. I understand you are not able to ask me every time. I would appreciate occasionally being asked to join in the family fun times”.
- Follow-through: The hardest work is over! You have successfully talked through a concern and made it to the end with a solution in place. Agree to set up regular talks that both parties can express a concern and move through the steps you have taken today to make your relationship the best that it can be!
Understanding your Au Pair Insurance 2020 and 2021 arrivals
- Before it becomes an emergency, google where is the closest CVS minute clinic to me! If you do not have a medical condition that is life-threatening, CVS minute clinics and Walgreens stores are great choices for medical care. These clinics do not require an appointment and are open early and late.
- Little symptoms can become big emergencies. Don’t risk your Au Pair experience by waiting until you are extremely ill before seeking medical advice.
- If you have more than a small medical issue, call your insurance company to discuss your benefits and options before incurring a large medical bill that you will have to pay. (800) 303-8120, prompt 5 or 203-399-5130 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hospital Emergency rooms are for life-threatening conditions only. An additional 500.00 deductible will be charged to you if you do not have a life-threatening emergency. When in doubt go to a CVS minute clinic. You will not have to pay the additional ER deductible if you are directed by a medical professional to go to an ER.
- Download your insurance card. Keep your insurance card with you at all times Or, have the mobile app on your phone with myCISI phone app for iphone or android.
- You can go into your Au Pair Insurance portal to print out a new card with your host family’s address on it. Make an account and save your password. Or, you can use the mobile app on your phone to do this.
- The basic plan of insurance will have a 50.00 deductible for each sickness or injury. There will be a co-pay amount you will pay for your care and a percentage of the cost of the service. The insurance will determine what is the usual and customary charge for the service you received.
- Be prepared by saving up two weeks’ stipend to cover any medical cost.
- If you pay for medical care or prescription medicine, you can fill out a claim form and mail it in to get CISI to pay you their portion (once you have met your deductible). A claim form can be found on the mycisi portal.
- Use Well RX to lower your prescription cost. https://www.wellrx.com/prescription-discount-card/
- Au Pairs do not have dental insurance (with exception of the upgraded medical policy which does have a 500.00 pain relief benefit). Avoid crunching on hard food or candy!!
- Read about sports insurance upgrade to determine if this will help you. If you are injured during a sporty activity- the insurance may not cover it. This can be found on your MyCISI portal.
- Routine wellness checks and vaccinations are not covered under CISI. Before getting a vaccine, ask if there is a charge to administer the shot and what your cost will be.
- Birth Control pills and routine GYN visits are not covered by CISi. Consider your local health department or Planned Parenthood as a good option for these services.
10 Tips for Vacationing with your Host Family
Here are 10 Tips for Vacationing with your Host Family so that everyone has a great time, and the kids are safe!
Tag, your it!
I had a host family with 3 small children tell me that when it was the au pair’s turn to be
responsible for the children (and vice versa) they would tap hands so that there was no
misunderstanding who was in charge. What a great idea!
Yes, a schedule is needed! A few summers ago, I received 2 calls on the same day. One was from a host mother saying that they just returned from vacation and their Au Pair did not work at all and one was from the Au Pair in this family saying she worked all day every day! How interesting is that? Be sure to discuss your Au Pair schedule so that you know when you are off – just like at home.
Travel time/Work time?
You must get there, right? Getting kids to relax on a long car ride or helping to get boarded on the plane, on time, can be stressful for all the adults! Travel time is not considered work time (unless you are the only person in charge of the children), however, being a kind Au Pair will mean that you cannot wear your earbuds and take a nap the whole trip. Look for ways to be helpful. This will make the travel time better for everyone.
Lazy days! Vacation can bring different behaviors from children – especially children that
will not do well when there is no routine. Ask about any special routine that you will need to be aware of. Be prepared to be patient. Young children will not be themselves and older children who get to stay awake later may get cranky.
Pool Safety! If vacationing at the beach or around a pool be sure to talk to your host family about
how long the kids can stay at the pool, how often should sunscreen be reapplied? What is the host parent’s expectation of your role at the pool or beach? Do you need to be in the water or is it okay to sit on the side of the pool? Please do not assume your role, get clear directions.
Who is the Boss?
Often summer vacation includes extended family. Can Grandma and Grandpa change the
schedule for the day? If you are uncertain about a change made by someone else, reach out to the host parents to get clarification.
Where did all these kids come from?!
Are you vacationing with the host family’s family and their children too? It is fun to be surrounded by family and fun times. However, you can speak up if you are asked to care for more children than you feel comfortable with.
Au Pair in America is advising against any international travels for the Au Pair during 2021 even if you are going with your host family. If you arrived on an NIE visa, you will not be able to return to the USA once you leave. Call your community counselor to discuss any plans for international travel during 2021.
Roomies? Vacations are expensive. It may not be possible to have your own private room. Many times, an Au Pair will share space with the host children. Plans can be made so that you have the privacy to change clothes or rest by yourself. If you do not feel comfortable with this, discuss your concerns with the host family before you leave.
- Safety First!
Little kids LOVE exploring a new environment, and everyone is excited and off guard. This makes an accident more likely to happen. An accident can only take a second to happen. Do what you can to prevent accidents; walk with the host parents around your vacation surroundings to discover issues that might be safety concerns. Stairsteps, upstairs windows, sliding doors, patios, and backyard pools all need special attention. Remember the safety of the children is always a priority even when you are off duty.
Working with your host family during vacation time can be tricky, and might require an extra dose of patience, but you will make memories of this experience that you are sure to treasure. You will be able to experience a new place within the USA and learn more about your host family during a relaxed time. Be thankful and express your appreciation to your host family that they chose to include you!
APIA Program Outcomes Study-How the Au pair program affected Adult Children from Former Host Families.
How the Au pair program affected Adult Children from Former Host Families.
(Excerpted from Au Pair in America Program Outcomes- Perspectives of Host Children 1999-2017)
Cassie Heine and Catie Steidl, AIFS program Researchers stated:
“The host children love and learned from their Au pairs. As a result, their eyes were open to the world beyond the doorsteps of their home.”
Catie “When children are raised to think of cross-cultural understanding, interaction and the embrace of difference and diversity as the norm, they are guaranteed to grow into similarly tolerant young people and adults who are interested in and enthusiastic about the positive aspects of cultural understanding.”
The impact Statistics gained from surveying 4000 former host children now age 21 or older:
An ability to accept differences in other people- 88%
An appreciation for global cuisine- 81%
A desire for more diverse friendships and social networks-71%
A better understanding of myself and my values- 71%
The Au pair affected their lives in a positive way- 99%
Would you have an Au pair care for your children- 94%
I consider the Au pair who lived with us to be like family-92%
62% of adult children of APIA can comfortably hold a conversation in a different language. Only 26% of American-born citizens can do this.
College-age children of APIA were 7x more likely to study abroad.
Quotes from former host children:
Caitlin Age 25 New Jersey:
“They broadened my horizons and showed me that people everywhere live different and interesting, but equally beautiful lives. Through them I learned about different languages, food, architecture, and displays of friendship. I wanted to know more about people, and I wanted to go on adventures because of them.”
Madeleine, age 26 Massachusetts:
“I attended my former Au pair’s weddings. I’ve met their parents and their children. To me, to everyone in my family, they are Family. I feel like they will stay that way for the rest of my life.”
Let’s Talk Each Month! Reminders and Tips for the Au pair.
Communication with your Community Counselor
It is very important to stay in communication with your counselor. Without at least monthly conversations, it is impossible for your counselor to know what is going well for you or what you need help with. The State Department of our Government sets the rules for which APIA must follow. One of those rules is that you must have at least one communication with your counselor per month. Most of our communication will take place at our monthly meetings. If you do not attend a cluster meeting, it is important that you talk with your counselor that month and discuss how your year is going.
Cluster meetings are mandatory. This is part of your contract with APIA. You will not always be able to attend. The following are reasons that you might not attend a cluster meeting:
- You are sick.
- You have an education class.
- Your host family has a conflict in the schedule.
- You are concerned about the cost of the meeting.
These are the only acceptable excuses. If you must miss a meeting for one of the above reasons, please call and let me know. If you miss more than three meetings during your year, I will not be able to give you a good recommendation in reference to your participation with APIA.
There are other times you MUST call and talk with your counselor:
- When you go on vacation with your family or on your own.
- To report any accidents: car, personal, in the home, with host children
- If you are involved in an incident in which the police or firemen are present: fire, accident, robbery, etc.
- If there are any concerns with the host family which harm you in any physical or emotional way.
- If any incident occurs with you which may compromise your completion of the year.
- If your host mom is expecting a new baby.
- If your host family plans to move.
Many common questions can be answered without calling your counselor.
The official website for Au Pair in America ( www.aupairinamerica.com then scroll to the bottom and click ” current Au pair”) is a great place to search for interesting facts or important information. Our cluster blog site is also a great place to find the answer you are looking for. The following are examples of questions you can answer on the website or on our blog.
- Where can I go to the doctor?
- What do I need to get my driver’s license?
- What do I need to travel to another country?
- How do I pay my USA taxes?
- What activity can I do with my host children? Your counselor is always glad to communicate with you. You are always welcome to contact your counselor. Here are some things to remember:
- It might not be possible for her to speak to you or to respond to your text at the exact time you want.
- If your counselor does not answer the phone, she may be in a meeting or talking with someone else. If this is the case, you will reach her voice mail. Voice mail in the USA is an important way businesses operate.
- Your Counselor will not know that you called if you do not leave a message. Please call once and leave a message.
- Do not call or text multiple times. It is only necessary to leave one voice mail or text message within a 24 hour time.
- Please don’t feel shy about your English skills. Your counselor is in the habit of listening to au pair messages and she will be able to understand you.
- If you have an emergency, your counselor will call you back as soon as she receives your message. If you cannot wait on your counselor with an immediate emergency, call the after-hours emergency number for Au pair In America and follow the prompts for emergency assistance.
- If you are calling to say hi or with a question, she will return your call within 24 hours.
- Most counselors have set office hours. If you call or text outside of these hours, and you do not have an emergency, she will call you back on the next business day.
- Resist texting after hours or on the weekend. Send an email and your counselor will answer this when she returns to work on the next business day.
Counselors love talking with au pairs and look forward to hearing how your year is going! Counselors also love hearing about ideas for cluster meetings. So, call soon!!
Facts about Flu Vaccination! What Every Au Pair Should Know.
Facts about Flu Vaccination! What Every Au Pair Should Know.
The information contained in this article was obtained from The Centers for Disease Control And Prevention. For more information, please go to https://www.cdc.gov/flu/
The best way to protect yourself and your host family against influenza (flu) is to get a flu vaccine. Flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization, or even death. CDC recommends everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccine.
Au pairs can get a flu vaccination at many locations( urgent care centers, Pharmacies, Doctor’s office, Public health centers.) Costco and your county health clinic may offer the best cost.
The average cost is 20 to 40 dollars. Au Pair insurance will not cover the cost of flu vaccination. Most host families will gladly pay for your flu shot.
What are some key reasons to get a flu vaccine?
- The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu illnesses, hospitalization, and even death in children and young adults.
- While some people who get vaccinated still get sick, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness.
- A vaccine is cheaper than the illness. The average cost for a patient with flu is minimal $1000.00
- 3.7 days to 5.7 days is the average length of time someone is not able to work due to being sick with the Flu.
- Having a complicated Flu illness could end your Au Pair term early.
Misconceptions about the Flu Vaccine:
Can a flu vaccine give you the flu?
No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and that therefore are not infectious, or b) using only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection.
Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?
No. Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults. Most people suffering from flu illness miss 4 to 7 days of work and will spend $250.00 to 1000.00 dollars in health care costs (http://theweek.com/articles/471450/cost-getting-flu-by-numbers.) Therefore, getting vaccinated is a safer and less costly choice than risking illness to obtain immune protection.
Is the flu vaccine safe?
Flu vaccines have a good safety record. Hundreds of millions of
Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years.
Extensive research supports the safety of seasonal flu vaccines.
Each year, CDC works with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for
flu vaccines. More information about the safety of flu vaccines is
available at www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/vaccinesafety.htm.
What are the side effects of flu vaccines?
Flu shots: Flu shots are made using killed flu viruses (for inactivated
vaccines), or without flu virus at all (for the recombinant vaccine). So,
you cannot get flu from a flu shot. Some minor side effects that may
occur include soreness, redness and/or swelling where the shot was
given, low-grade fever, and aches. If these problems occur, they are usually mild and go away on their own, but serious reactions are also possible. Almost all people who receive flu vaccine have no serious problems from it.
When and Where to get vaccinated?
You should get a flu vaccine by the end of October. However, as long
as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout
flu season, even in January or later.
Comprehensive List of Online Resources for Education
Online Education Options for Au Pairs:
ALL CLasses must be from an accredited, USA college or university!
Most Popular Search Mechanisms: NOT all classes found will be approved by the State Department. Check with your counselor BEFORE you sign up!
Some classes are grouped together and are called a ” Specialization”. This means that each course within the specialization group must be taken and will give a specific amount of hours. Please count each course’s hours to total up how many you will achieve.
Most Popular Courses:
The Science of Well Being – www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being
Dog Emotion and Cognition – www.coursera.org/learn/dog-emotion-and-cognition
Interior Design – www.ed2go.com/courses/arts-and-design/graphic-arts/ilc/introduction-to-interior-design
Introduction to Hospitality and Tourism Industry – https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-to-hospitality-and-tourism-industry
Computer Science for Business Professionals – https://online-learning.harvard.edu/course/cs50s-computer-science-business-professionals?delta=0
How to Write an Essay – https://www.edx.org/course/how-to-write-an-essay
Tricky American English Pronunciation – https://www.classcentral.com/course/tricky-american-english-pronunciation-8274
Fundamentals of Supervision and Management – www.ed2go.com/courses/business/soft-skills/ilc/fundamentals-of-supervision-and-management
English for Career Development – https://www.coursera.org/learn/careerdevelopment
Improve your English Communication Skills – https://www.coursera.org/specializations/improve-english?
Photography – www.ed2go.com/schoolcraft/online-courses/secrets-of-better-photography/
Culinary Arts – https://classroomaupair.org/intro-to-culinary-arts/
Best Course for 5 Hours:
Fairfax University of America – Online Museum Courses https://www.fxua.edu/sls/programs/non-intensive-esl/#museum-classes
Best ESL/TOEFL Courses:
The University of California at Irvine offers a series of classes: https://www.coursera.org/specializations/intermediate-grammar
International Language Institute – DC – www.ilidc.com
LADO – DC Metro Area – www.lado.com
UCEDA – https://uceda.edu/toefl-preparation/ or https://uceda.edu/aupair/ for ESL classes, too.
EFI Online – https://www.eng4intl.com/daytime-evening-classes-overview/toefl-ibt-prep/
Kenton County Adult ESL – https://www.kentonesl.org/
Community College of Allegheny County – Grammar Refresher – https://www.ed2go.com/ccac/online-courses/grammar-refresher
Zoni Language Center – Intermediate Conversations – www.zoni.edu/intensive-english-program/
Hudson County Community College – English Skills for Real Life Situations – https://classroomaupair.org/english
Prince Georges Community College – ESL – https://www.pgcc.edu/go/adulteducationesl/
Fairfax Universtiy of America – https://www.fxua.edu/sls/programs/non-intensive-esl/
Georgia Tech Language Institute – https://esl.gatech.edu/additional-programs/short-courses
International Language Institute – www.ilidc.com
More Popular Choices:
Learning Across America and Learning Express – https://www.learningacrossamerica.net/find-your-class
Classroom Au Pair – www.classroomaupair.org
Yale University: One course gives 15 hours https://www.coursera.org/learn/introduction-psychology?recoOrder=5&utm_medium=email&utm_source=recommendations&utm_campaign=Kl0YwECzEeuTnfsZ4aha4w
Penn State University: five courses in the specialization giving 80 hours. https://www.coursera.org/specializations/positivepsychology?recoOrder=8&utm_medium=email&utm_source=recommendations&utm_campaign=Kl0YwECzEeuTnfsZ4aha4w
Wesleyan Unversity 38 hours https://www.coursera.org/learn/social-psychology?
Au pair Favorite FREE Online Courses!
All online classes must be finished within 2020. All colleges must be a USA college and accredited by the University system. Check with your counselor before beginning any online course.
1.Yale University: The Science of well-Being.
This course challenges you to be happy and let go of ideas that keep us from being our best!
2. Georgia Institute of Technology: Improve your English Communication Skills. This is a four-part course that will give about 15 hours for each course, If you finish all of them, it is 60 hours.
3.The University of Pennsylvania: English For Career Development. This is a 40 hour FREE course!
4.The University of Californa at Irvine: The pronunciation of American English Specialization.
This is a four-part course that gives about 20 hours per course. 80 hours for the total specialization.
5. Yale University: Introduction to Psychology. This course provides 15 hours.