As an au pair, you have an important role in a child’s life. When you are caring for young children up to 45 hours per week, there are lots of opportunities to help them learn language. Many host parents are eager for their children to be exposed to a foreign language. If this is true of your host parents, you can try the suggestions below, in both English and your native language.
For more ideas, check out Ready at Five.
- Read – Read to them daily, point out pictures and ask questions. Even if they can’t answer the questions, this is still modeling conversation.
- Talk – Point out objects around them, names of their body parts, explain what you are doing and places you are going. Long before babies can speak, they benefit greatly from hearing someone speak to them.
- Sing – You can sing childhood classics or make up your own silly songs. If you are looking for song ideas, HERE is a great website with lists of songs, lyrics and links to YouTube videos* of the songs. Children’s music is also available at the public library and even on iTunes.
- Words – As children move from toddlers to preschoolers begin to point out written language.
- Writing – Toddlers and preschoolers can begin to learn pre-writing skills by drawing with crayons or doing finger paints.
*The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for babies under 18 months of age. For children 18 months to 5 years, they recommend no more than 1 hour of high-quality content. You can play the songs on YouTube for the audio and not necessarily show the screen to the child.
Photo: Quinn Dombrowski (Flickr)