Tag Archives: childcare

Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Dinosaurs.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to dinosaurs can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. Get permission from your host parents before any outings and be sure to take all social distancing precautions.

Here are a few places to go that fit this theme:

Toys – Many kids have dinosaur toys already. See what your kids have and think of fun, new ways you can play with these toys with them. Imagine taking a plastic dinosaur and making footprints in play dough to form your own fossils.

Webcam – This NPS Paleontology Lab offers a webcam where you can watch paleontologists remove rock from around fossils. The cam is normally working 9 am-5 pm PST, so 12-8 pm our time.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about dinosaurs and fossils. Here are a few to get you started.

Movies – The Good Dinosaur, Land Before Time, and Ice Age are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, consider movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Jurassic Park (which is rated PG-13).

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on dinosaurs.

Photo: krojotak.com

Positive Discipline – Rewarding Good Behavior

Years ago when my kids were younger, I had a cluster meeting at my house and a few au pairs commented on the chore and behavior charts I had posted in my family room. With four kids, I sometimes found it difficult to keep track of who had done what and who had gained or lost various privileges. So, over the years, I have used charts to keep everything on track.  I have also created charts for host families and au pairs dealing with behavior the children may be having.

I uploaded a few of these charts in case you may find them helpful.

Positive Behavior – Recognizing and rewarding positive behavior can often be a good way to reduce negative behavior. The goal behind lots of children’s actions is the same, attention seeking. Try to show them more positive attention when they do well and make less of a fuss over negative behaviors.

Explain how the chart will work and then look for times when you can call their attention to something they did that was kind or helpful. It is nice to have short term and longer term goals. For example, the thrill of putting a sticker on the chart can be exciting for toddlers and preschoolers and that along with your words of praise are instant gratification. Saying when you get 5 stickers you get a larger reward (trip to the park, extra story or video, special activity) is intended to make them want to keep up the positive behavior. Positive Behavior Chart

Tracking Privileges – For school aged children it can be helpful to tie how they are behaving to privileges they want to have. I used this chart with different colored push pins, so my children could see where they were on the ladder and I could remember who I had told they could do what. The ladder style chart is based on an idea of the Dilley Family (famous parents of sextuplets.) I figured if it worked for them with six kids, it might work for me- and it has for many years. You can tell my kids are teenagers now, because I have Gameboy and PSP listed. You can make this chart your own substituting the kinds of activities your kids enjoy.  Ladder Chart 

Chores – Having chores teaches children that they are an important part of the family and their efforts count. This teaches responsibility and promotes positive self-esteem.  Chore Chart with Basic Chores

These are just a starting point, you can make your own charts and even involve the children in the process.

#1 Tip – Be Consistent!

All adults in the house need to be on the same page. It takes time to change behavior. Don’t expect instant results.

 

Going Unplugged During Work Hours

Phones, tablets, and laptops are wonderful tools to stay connected and informed, but we need to be careful not to let them become distractions from real life interactions and most importantly our responsibilities.

Au Pairs – Imagine for a moment that you went to the hospital and you were in the care of doctors and nurses. How would you feel if those doctors and nurses who were there to care for you were more interested in texting or using their personal computer than caring for you?  How would that make you feel, about yourself and about them? Would you think that you were getting the treatment you deserved?  Would you feel like paying the bill after your stay?

Life as an au pair, it is a fine balance between employee and family member. You live with your host family and participate with them as a member of the family, but you also have clear responsibilities as a childcare provider. Being a childcare provider is truly one of the most important jobs I can think of, because you are helping to shape our next generation.  What message are you sending them when you would rather interact with a computer than with them? How will they feel about themselves and about you? Children feel as though everything is about them. They will see this as a rejection of them and they will be more likely to act out.

It also poses a safety concern when you are not paying enough attention to the children in your care. Accidents happen, but when an adult care giver is close by and appropriately supervising the chances of a major injury dramatically reduce.

During work hours, the following would not be considered acceptable:
-Texting*
-Talking to friends on the phone
-Chatting or messaging with online
-Using Skype or FaceTime
-Using Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook or any other app or social media site
-Watching or posting videos on YouTube or TikTok
-Viewing or sharing photos on Instagram
-Anything else on the computer unless it is going to Nickjr.com together with your host children

*you do want to be on the look out for texts from your host parents

Think about this – even if you work 45 hours a week, that leaves you 123 hours per week for all of that other stuff, or about 70 hours (if you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night.)

Host Parents – You need to be clear about what you consider acceptable during work hours to avoid misunderstandings. Also, please understand that you are dealing with a generation of people who are very accustomed to being plugged in at all times. Their intention is not to be rude, they don’t necessarily realize how their actions will be perceived. Please use this information as an opportunity to begin a dialogue on the issue.

 

Camp Au Pair Week #5 – Under the Sea

In honor of Shark Week (see below), next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Under the Sea.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to creatures who live under the sea can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Under the Sea pinboard.

Webcams – You can do a google search for aquariums and zoos across the country (and the world) with webcams that allow you to observe sea creatures. Here is one to get you started.

TelevisionThe Discovery Channel has an annual Shark Week. This year it will be August 9-16, 2020. Much of the programming will be too scary for younger kids, but for nature-loving tweens and teens, it could be a great way to get them interested in sharks and other ocean animals. Check out 15 JAW-some Activities for Shark Week with lots of fun ideas for kids in grades 5 and up, but a few for younger kids too.

Online Games – NOAA has fun interactive games that help kids learn about sea turtle survival.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about sea creatures. There’s more to see than Baby Shark. Movies like Finding Nemo, Dolphin Tale, and the Little Mermaid also go well with this theme.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on sea creatures. The Rainbow Fish is a classic children’s book, your kids may already own.

Photo: mimisdollhouse.com

Camp Au Pair Week #2 – Dinosaurs

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Dinosaurs.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to dinosaurs can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Dinosaurs pinboard.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences. IF your host parents are okay with you taking the kids to any outdoor, socially distanced activities, here are a few places to go, that fit this theme:

Toys – Many kids have dinosaur toys already. See what your kids have and think of fun, new ways you can play with these toys with them. Imagine taking a plastic dinosaur and making footprints in play dough to form your own fossils.

Webcam – This NPS Paleontology Lab offers a webcam where you can watch paleontologists remove rock from around fossils. The cam is normally working 9 am-5 pm PST, so 12-8 pm our time.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about dinosaurs and fossils. Here are a few to get you started.

Movies – The Good Dinosaur, Land Before Time, and Ice Age are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, consider movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth and Jurassic Park (which is rated PG-13).

Books – Check your kids’ bookshelf for books on dinosaurs.

Au Pair Contest:  Message Christine or Lisa with your favorite dinosaur, to win a prize. 

Photo: krojotak.com

Camp Au Pair Week #1 – Outer Space

Next week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Outer Space.

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games related to outer space can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Outer Space pinboard. Here is a fun one that combines a science lesson, art, and snack time.

https://www.opticscentral.com.au/moon-phases-explained-with-oreos

Webcams – You can do a google search for websites with webcams that allow you to observe space. Here is one from the International Space Station to get you started.

Online Games – NASA has a gallery of free space games for kids.

Videos – Look for fun videos on YouTube about outer space. Solar System 101 and 25 Space Secrets Astronauts Want You to Know are good for school-aged kids. The Planet Song is for toddlers and preschoolers. WALL-E, Zathura, Monsters vs. Aliens & Star Wars are all great family movies that fit with this theme. For older kids, movies like Hidden Figures and the Martian too, both are rated PG-13.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on outer space.

CONTEST FOR AU PAIRS – The first au pair to message Lisa or me with your favorite planet will receive a Starbucks gift card.

Photo: alittlepinchofperfect.com

Three Ways for Au Pairs to Stay Red Cross Ready

Being knowledgeable in basic first aid and CPR is important for au pairs (and anyone else caring for children). Au Pair in America’s commitment to infant/child safety begins before au pairs arrive to the U.S., with pre-arrival training and continue throughout the au pair year.

#1 Training At Orientation

Our orientation includes seminars by American Red Cross instructors who provide hands-on demonstrations in infant/child CPR and safety. Printed materials are provided that reinforce the safety information and can be used to review from time to time.

#2 Enroll in a Red Cross Certification Class

After settling into their host community, all au pairs are encouraged to complete an Infant/Child CPR and First Aid certification program. Au Pair in America will pay for this training through the American Red Cross.

Classes are available through the Red Cross. Au Pair in America will pay for the cost of a class providing an au pair has at least six months left on her visa and is taking one of several approved childcare/child safety-related classes, such as Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED. Au pairs should check with their community counselor and host family before signing up. Au Pair in America will register the au pair directly.

To locate a class, visit www.redcross.org/takeaclass. For step-by-step instructions on how to locate a class and have Au Pair in America complete enrollment, click here.

#3 Stay Current on Safety Information

The Official American Red Cross First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Available for iPhone and Android devices, this app gives you instant access to the information you need to know to handle the most common first aid emergencies. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice, it’s never been easier to know first aid. Download the app for free from the American Red Cross website or in your app store.

Photos: Robin Leon

Camp Au Pair Week #10 – Pirate Adventures

This week’s Camp Au Pair theme is Pirate Adventures

Crafts, recipes, activities, and games can all be found here on the Camp Au Pair – Pirate Adventures pinboard. Since there aren’t that many pirate-themed places to go in our area, this theme is best played out in your own home and back yard. This pinboard features lots of great ideas to bring the pirate theme alive for kids.

Field Trips can be a great way for kids to learn and have new experiences.

Videos – Look for fun videos about Pirates on YouTube.

Movies – Hook, Muppets Treasure Island, Peter Pan, Treasure Planet, Return to Neverland, Veggie Tales the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, Treasure Island, Goonies and Pirates of the Caribbean are all movies that fit in great with this theme. Check the ratings to make sure they are age-appropriate for your children.

Books – Stop by your local library and look for books on pirates.

Image: Casey Hugelfink

Back to School Planning

Back to school time is here. This can mean changes to the au pair schedule and possibly to the duties.  It is very important to communicate these changes to avoid problems.

Here is a list of topics to consider discussing:

  • Au pair’s work schedule
  • The children’s school and activity schedules
  • Where the children get dropped off and picked up and who will be doing this
  • What to do if a child is staying home sick, late to school, does not get off the bus (if they are supposed to)
  • Driving laws regarding stopping for school buses
  • How to tell if school has been canceled or delayed for bad weather
  • Add the au pair to your list of people allowed to pick up the kids from school and explain the process
  • What to pack for lunch
  • The routine after school (do they have free time before starting homework, what to give for a snack, any chores, where do they put their backpacks & lunchboxes)
  • How to communicate about what’s going on at school. Your Kids in Care logbook from Au Pair in America can be a great two-way communication tool for keeping track of schedules, afterschool activities and day to day info that needs to be transferred between host parents and au pair.
  • If your au pair will be the one going through the children’s backpack and helping with homework, consider designating an area for putting things that need to be read and/or signed by parents.

Here are some Printable Fill-in-the-Blank School Notes for parents. You can print these out and have them ready for times when the kids are absent, late, have an early dismissal or you need to give permission for something.

Check out Au Pair in America’s Pinterest School Tips and Ideas pinboard for things like organization ideas, back to school traditions, printable lunch box notes, and fun lunch recipes.

Reminder: It is illegal in the State of Maryland for a child under the age of 8 to be left alone in the home or car. Please make sure that your drop off routine does not include leaving children under 8 at home or in the car while dropping off another child. Even if a host parent gives permission to do this, it is not allowed, because it is against the law.

Create a Spring Break Game Plan

“Game plan” means a strategy for how you are going to accomplish something.  In the case of keeping kids from getting bored and/or into trouble, the best way to prevent it is to keep them busy with safe, fun activities.

When there are days home from school, letting kids sit around watching TV or play video games is not the best use of their time.  Providing fun alternatives will make it much easier to pull them away from the screen.

You need to make a plan of what you will do with them each day and prepare for that. Planning is very important.  You don’t want to tell them you are going some place fun, only to arrive there and see they are not open that day or you needed to bring something and you don’t have it.

If your plan includes a craft or cooking project, make sure you have:

  • all the ingredients/supplies
  • recipe/directions

If your plan includes an outing to someplace fun, figure out:

  • How will you get there?
  • When you should leave?
  • How much it will cost?
  • What will you do for lunch?

Use some of these online resources to find activities and recipes:

Have a wonderful Spring Break!

Image: Canva.com

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