Tag Archives: childcare

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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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 with friends online
-Using Skype or FaceTime
-IMing
-Emailing
-Updating your status on Facebook
-Using Snapchat, WhatsApp or any other app or social media site
-Watching videos on YouTube
-Tweeting on Twitter
-Uploading 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 new 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.

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Snow Days are Here!

Looking for ideas to keep the kids busy on a snow day (when they are home from school for winter weather?)

Here is a simple snow day game plan…

  1. Play in the snow. Do you wanna build a snowman? Here’s a great how-to video.
  2. Come inside and warm up with hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows.)
  3. May your own play dough.
  4. Play board games or legos together.
  5. Ever heard of Snow Ice Cream? Great for freshly fallen snow.
  6. Look for more fun things to do on the APIA Pinterest Boards:
  7. Bake cookies together or make some other fun recipe.
  8. Play in the snow again.
  9. Warm up inside taking turns on the Make a Snowflake Website.
  10. Make a blanket fort.

Stay warm & have fun!

Photo: Tony Crider (Flickr)

October is Month of the Young Adolescent

Parque do IbirapueraDedicated to ages 10-15 this serves as a reminder of the insecurity of young adolescents. Help the young adolescents you care for to recognize their abilities. Help to make home a safe and comfortable place where it is okay to learn from mistakes. Help them to learn about the adult values of hard work, family and discipline.

Even though kids this age are typically pretty independent and may seem like they don’t need or want much interaction from an au pair, this is not completely true. They still enjoy when you take an interest in their activities.  Find ways to connect with them through shared interests or let them introduce you to things they care about.

Photo: Marlon Dias

Childcare Focus – Supervision

8624952272_309e2a66ef_nWhether you are at the park, in the backyard or in the playroom, stay with the children at all times!  If you are on duty the safety and well being of the children is your job. Children also find it more enjoyable if you are playing with them rather than sitting on the sidelines watching.

If you have a middle-schooler, who is able to walk to and from school, or play outside with friends, you still need to know where he/she is and whether an adult is present. Make plans for when he/she will call you, where you can find him/her, and what time you expect him/her home.

Photo: Sam Howzit (Flickr)

Air Quality Alerts

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.

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Here is a website where you can check on air quality in your area.