Tag Archives: au pair

Earth Day Activity: Planting Seeds with Children

In honor of Earth Day, our April cluster meeting topic was planting seeds with children. We met on Zoom with several other clusters from the DMV area and discussed different activities we can do with our kids planting seeds.

Here are some of the supplies needed to complete this activity with your host kids:

  1. Potting soil
  2. Cups for planting the seeds (biodegradable cups can be planted directly in the ground. If using small plastic cups, you’ll need to remove the plant from the cup after they sprout before you plant them in a bigger pot or in the ground). There are links below showing how to make your own biodegradable cups out of newspaper.
  3. Seeds (we planted Black-Eyed Susans – the Maryland State flower, but sunflower seeds are easy to find and grow).

Below you will find some of the resources we used during this meeting.

Information sheets on growing seeds.

Making your own biodegradable planting cups from newspaper.

This time lapse videos showing the growth process of a sunflower.

 

Making Plans for Future Travel

With the COVID vaccine production steadily increasing, we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic. That is wonderful news and reason to be optimistic! However, Au Pair in America is still strongly discouraging travel at the moment for two reasons: CDC recommendations against travel and the constantly changing rules and restrictions for international and even interstate travel.

When travel is resumed for you, it will also depend on your specific host family circumstances. It is very important that you and your host family have very clear, honest communication about your plans and that you are both comfortable with the plans.

What can you do right now? Research and figure out where you want to go and what things you want to see and do there. Being a spontaneous traveler can be fun, but without planning you will often waste some of your precious vacation or weekend time figuring out things you could have looked into before you started your trip.

These ideas are to help you make general plans. You shouldn’t book any tickets or make any financial commitments until you know when travel will safely resume.

Planning can help you:

  • Save money
  • Make the best use of your time
  • Fit in more adventures
  • Visit places you might not have heard of before

It also extends the joy of the travel time. Planning all the thing you will do, gives you something to look forward to. We can all use things to look forward to right now.

If you are looking for travel inspiration and ideas or a place to keep your travel ideas organized, Pinterest is a great place to start. You can browse other people’s travel and bucket list pinboards. You can create your own pinboards for places you want to go and ones you have already visited.

These three apps are all trip planners and offer the ability to research places and create your own itinerary. Each one has its own look and feel and slightly different features. Download them and see which one is the best fit for you.

Road trips can be the ultimate adventure. You set your own pace and stop to see what you want. The journey can be as much fun as your destination.

  • Road Trippers is an app that helps you plan the ultimate road trip. It helps you determine your route and find interesting stops along the way.

We won’t be stuck inside forever. Once travel resumes, be ready with your plans!

Photo: Natacha R. from France

Education Update 2021

Due to COVID-19, Au Pair in America has temporarily given approval for online/virtual classes, with a few conditions. Classes must be offered by an accredited school and registration must take place by 6/30/21. Au pairs must still produce certificates or other acceptable documentation confirming the completion of the class.

If in doubt, ask your counselor to check if the school is accredited. All class hours must be completed by the end of your 11th month in the program if you wish to extend.

ESL Specific Schools

Community Colleges

Other Languages

Weekend/U.S. Culture/Travel Courses

Online Class Websites – These platforms will list online courses all over the country. These courses come from a variety of sources and some are not accredited. You must be sure you are selecting a course that is from an accredited university.

*This class would be great for au pairs who have already taken or plan to take a PGCC Transition ESL class when things go back to normal. Those classes usually earn 50-60 hours, so this could be enough to complete your education requirement, in combination with one of those classes.

Want some ideas for online classes? 

Click HERE for a great list of online courses on a variety of topics.

Photo: Nenad Stojkovic

Do You Need Sports Insurance?

Trying out winter sports like ice skating, skiing and snow boarding can be very exciting, especially if this is your first time experiencing winter weather. However, you should also know the risks and be prepared.

Is it risky to do winter sports without the sports insurance?

Yes. If you have to pay your own hospital bills for a broken bone, you might be shocked at how much that would cost. I checked this website for some cost estimates.

Here are a couple examples:

  • Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (that does not require surgery) it could cost up to $2,500.
  • Without medical coverage, to treat a broken arm or leg (requiring surgery) it could cost $16,000 or more.

I wanted to make sure everyone understands how the medical coverage works for sports related injuries. There is a list of “high-risk sports/activities” that are not covered with the basic or upgrade medical insurance plans. Those activities are only covered with the Sports Insurance Package.

The Sports Insurance was available pre-departure and may also be purchased at any time during your year. It takes effect within 3 days of your enrollment and it is good for 12 months. The cost will be the same ($100) whether you have a month left or your whole year ahead of you. I recommend you pay for it early on, if you didn’t already purchase it. You never know when an opportunity might present itself and you don’t want to miss out on an adventure. You also don’t want to take a risk on getting injured and being responsible for the bill on your own.

Below is a partial list of sports that are only covered with the sports insurance package:
Football, Rugby, Scuba diving, Ski-doo,  Wakeboarding, Skydiving, Parachuting, Rock climbing, Zip line, Skate boarding, Rollerblading, Roller skating,  Ice Skating, SkiingSnowboardingSnowmobiles & Snowshoeing.  View the full list on your insurance brochure.

Note: Injuries sustained while partaking in these sports are covered with purchase of the Sports Insurance ONLY.

How to register for the Sports Insurance
Contact Lisa or Christine, if you are unsure which insurance package you have and/or to register for sports insurance.

If you think you will be doing any of these sports, you should get it now.

Social Distancing: Free Virtual Escape Rooms

Libraries may be closed due to COVID-19, but many librarians are coming up with creative ideas to keep people entertained and promote literacy. One of those creative ideas is free virtual escape rooms. With a variety of themes, some may be fun to do on your own, others as activities with the kids.

Sydney Krawiec, Youth Services Librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, PA created this Hogwarts Virtual Escape Room. She shared this tutorial on how to create your own virtual escape room, which seemed to spark the creativity of many other librarians.

Some amazing librarians all over the country have been busy creating virtual escape rooms with a variety of themes.

Special thanks to the Humboldt County Library in Winnemucca, Nevada for gathering info on many of these escape rooms. Follow them on Facebook for their storytimes and weekly Facebook Live Science Time on Fridays.

Image: Canva.com

Temporary Changes to Au Pair Education Requirement Due to COVID-19

UPDATED: July 31, 2020

Due to COVID-19, Au Pair in America has temporarily given approval for online/virtual classes, with a few conditions. Classes must be offered by an accredited school and the class must conclude by the end of 2020. Au pairs must still produce certificates or other acceptable documentation confirming the completion of the class.

If in doubt, ask your counselor to check if the school is accredited. All class hours must be completed by the end of your 11th month in the program if you wish to extend.

The following schools are offering online or virtual classes as of July 28, 2020.

ESL Specific Schools

Community Colleges

Other Languages

Weekend/U.S. Culture/Travel Courses

Online Class Websites – These platforms will list online courses all over the country. These courses come from a variety of sources and some are not accredited. You must be sure you are selecting a course that is from an accredited university.

*This class would be great for au pairs who have already taken or plan to take a PGCC Transition ESL class when things go back to normal. Those classes usually earn 50-60 hours, so this could be enough to complete your education requirement, in combination with one of those classes.

All Things American *NEW*

Click HERE for a great list of online courses on a variety of topics related to American culture and history. They are available through Coursera and are being taught by accredited colleges and universities. They range from 9-80 hours towards your education requirement and the cost is typically $49.

Photo: Ivan Radic

Valentines Day Fun With Your Kids

Valentine’s Day (February 14) is a time of love, friendship, giving, and caring. Americans use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to tell friends and family how much they care.  Children usually exchange cards at school.

Are you looking for Valentine’s Day activity, recipe and craft ideas? Look no further…  Au Pair in America has a Pinterest pinboard devoted to Valentine’s Day.

                      APIA Valentine’s Day Pinboard

Photo: Clever Cupcakes (Flickr)

The Au Pair Education Requirement

Au pairs are required to complete 6 credits or 7.2 CEUs or 72 or more hours.

EduCare Companions are required to complete 12 credits or 14.4 CEUs or 144 or more hours.

You may take credit or non-credit classes from an accredited college. Look on the right side of this page under “Education Options” for accredited schools in our cluster area. If you want to take a class at a school not listed here on my blog, please check with me first to make sure it is accredited. Otherwise, it would not count toward your education requirement.

Your host family will pay an education allowance to assist you in completing your education requirement. Au Pairs education allowance – $500, EduCare education allowance – $1000

There are ways to get your credits for just your education allowance, but it will not give you a lot of choices. Normally au pairs will contribute some of their own money ($200+) towards their education.

The APIA Advantage UCLA Course is the only State Dept. approved class with an online component. No other online classes are accepted.

Note: Au pairs are allowed to take one weekend course for up to half their education requirement per contract year. The Department of State views our program as a cultural exchange experience and an au pair going to a campus over the length of a semester alongside her American peers facilitates this while promoting the spirit of the program.

Photo: CollegeDegrees360

Top 3 Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

The winter has it’s own kind of beauty, but when the days are short and it’s cold outside, some people feel less energetic or even sad. The cold weather can make you feel like staying indoors. For some au pairs, those conditions can cause homesickness to resurface.

Here are some tips to fight the winter blues (sadness):

  1. Don’t hibernate. Hibernation is staying inactive or indoors for an extended period of time. Seeing friends and enjoying new activities is a great way to fight homesickness.
    • Meet up with friends for coffee or a movie.
    • Try new activities and foods.
    • Visit places you’ve been wanting to visit like museums and indoor landmarks.
  2. Stay physically active. Keeping moving helps elevate your mood and boosts your immune system.
    • Head to the gym or community center.
    • Go walking inside a shopping mall.
    • If you are feeling brave, dress warmly and get out there and enjoy the winter beauty!
  3. Maintain a Healthy Sleep Routine. It’s important to keep your body on a consistent sleep schedule. Too much or too little sleep can impact your mood and health.

Photo: Marwan Youssef

Making Thanksgiving Memories Together

Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year in the United States. It started as a harvest festival and has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789.  The most important part of Thanksgiving for American families is to spend family time together.

Martin Cathrae

 “My favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. Firstly, it was my first holiday with the whole family in America. Secondly, the whole family came together. All aunts and uncles and their kids came to grandma’s. We played football with all of them, including grandma and grandpa. It was the first time I played it and it was so much fun for all. We had a great dinner with all the typical things you can imagine … it was deeeelicious! It was so great to be with such a big family and I really enjoyed that day. I will remember it my whole life, I hope.” – Swantje from Germany

Here are a few tips to help you have a terrific Thanksgiving experience.

Host Parents
Please plan to include your au pair in your Thanksgiving celebration, if at all possible. If you are traveling or will not be able to invite your au pair to join you for Thanksgiving, give her plenty of notice and help her make alternate plans. You don’t want to leave your au pair alone over the holiday.

Au Pairs
If you are invited to attend dinner, please let your family know within 5 days of the invitation, whether you are planning to attend, so they may make plans. If your host family is unable to include you in their Thanksgiving plans, please let me know if you have trouble making other plans, so I can assist.

Make sure to discuss time off during this holiday weekend. Many host families work the Friday after Thanksgiving so do not assume you have this day off or the entire weekend. Talk to your host family, BEFORE you make any plans.

Bonus Tip for the Kids
If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your au pair, check out these turkey cookies. Find more fun activities and recipes on the Au Pair in America Fall Holidays pinboard.

Contest for au pairs: The first au pair to let Lisa or Christine know which traditional Thanksgiving food you are most looking forward to trying, will receive a prize!