Tag Archives: interaction

Big Kids Need Interaction Too

Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time.  Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or a video game.

Problem:
But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.

Solution:
Instead of saying,  “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)?  The answer will often be, “No.”

Try this, “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do  _____ or ______?”  Make sure both the choices are good options.
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun, if you pick a good activity.

Problem:
I don’t know what to do with school age kids.

Solution:
Look for ideas online. Google “activities school age kids” or “activities tweens”. You can also take part in an au pair webinar on this topic. Below is a list of some ideas to get you started.

  • Cooking
  • Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age appropriate)
  • Going fun places (pottery painting, jewelry making, farms, museums, mini-golf, go-karts)*
  • Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating)*
  • Let them teach you to do something they enjoy. Kids this age love being the expert.
  • Get outdoors and visit local parks.* You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?)  They can write this up and keep, so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
  • Let them help you search and plan some activities.
  • Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
  • If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.

*Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places and remember to follow social distancing and mask-wearing protocols.

 

Helping Young Children Learn Language

Quinn Dombrowski baby reading

Being an au pair is 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 more than just English. If this is true of your host parents, you can try the suggestions below, in both English and your native language.

Below are a few tips to start with, 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 being spoken to.
  • 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)

Big Kids Need Interaction Too

Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time.  Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or a video game.

 

Problem:
But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.

Solution:
Instead of saying,  “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)?  The answer will often be, “No.”

Try this, “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do  _____ or ______?”  Make sure both the choices are good options.
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun, if you pick a good activity.

Problem:
I don’t know what to do with school age kids.

Solution:
Look for ideas online. Google “activities school age kids” or “activities tweens”. Below is a list of some ideas to get you started.

  • Cooking
  • Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age appropriate)
  • Going fun places (pottery painting, jewelry making, farms, museums, mini-golf, go-karts)
  • Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating)
  • Let them teach you to do something they enjoy. Kids this age love being the expert.
  • Get outdoors and visit local parks.  You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?)  They can write this up and keep, so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
  • Let them help you search and plan some activities.
  • Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
  • If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.

Note: Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places.

Photo: Killian77

Focus on Play: New Ideas for Some Classic Toys

It is good to offer kids a balance of independent play time and play where you are actively engaging with them. You can make toys they may be bored with, feel new and exciting, by suggesting different ways to play with them. Try some of the ideas below as a starting point.

Play Food/Dishes

  • Teach your host children how to say the names of some of the food and dishes in your language.
  • Using English and/or your language play games where you are ordering food like in a restaurant. Take turns with who will be the waiter and who is the customer.
  • Come up with silly food combinations.  For example: Who wants pickles on their slice of cake?
  • Play a guessing game where the children have to figure out what food you are talking about.  For example: I grow under the ground in the dirt.  People eat me fried, mashed and baked.  What am I? (a potato)
  • Play a game with setting the table using your language to ask for the different items (plate, spoon, etc.)
  • Ask the children to divide the foods up into the different food groups (vegetables, meat, dairy, etc.)

Lego Blocks and Other Building Toys

  • Divide up all of the blocks between the people playing, by taking turns for each person to select block by block.
  • Suggest specific things to build (robots, houses, mountains etc.) and build together.
  • Challenge everyone to use all of their blocks.
  • Sort the blocks by color or shape and make patterns with them (red, blue, red, blue or square, triangle, rectangle.)  You can create a pattern and ask the child to fill in what comes next to continue the pattern.
  • Make the tallest block tower you can and let them knock it down (over and over again, if like most kids, they like destroying things.)

Mr. Potato Head

  • Teach your host children the names of the different parts in your language and play a game asking them to put on the body parts by name.
  • Play Hide and Seek with Mr. Potato Head. Have the children cover their eyes and count, while you hide Mr. Potato Head, then they go looking for him. Switch things up by letting them hide Mr. Potato Head and then you are the one to locate him.
  • Play the same game above, but using Simon Says.  Simon Says is a game where the leader gives commands by saying “Simon says” first. For example, “Simon says, put on the nose.”  The players are only to follow the commands when the leader says “Simon says.”  If the leader doesn’t say “Simon says” first and just says, “put on the nose,”  and the player follows the command, they are out of the game.  Repeat the game multiple times, so all kids get a turn to be the leader at least once.

Photos:  Lisa Maxwell (top) & Tom Smalls (bottom)

SaveSave

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.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Helping Young Children Learn Language

Quinn Dombrowski baby readingBeing an au pair is 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 more than just English. If this is true of your host parents, you can try the suggestions below, in both English and your native language.

Below are a few tips to start with, 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 being spoken to.
  • 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)

Big Kids Need Interaction Too

Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time.  Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or video game.

Problem:
But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.

Solution:
Instead of saying – “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)?  The answer will often be, “No.”

Try this – “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do  ___ or ____?”  (Make sure both the choices are things you approve of.)
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun, if you pick a good activity.

Problem:
I don’t know what to do with school age kids?

Solution:
Here are a few easy ideas to start with.  Look for more on the internet and the library.  Google “activities school age kids” or “activities tweens”
-Cooking
-Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age appropriate)
-Going fun places (check the Cluster Google Map for all kinds of great places in the local area including pottery making, jewelry making, farms, museums and more)
-Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating, and more)
-Visit places in the area like the library, museums and attractions in DC, mini-golf and go-karts
-Let them teach you to do something they enjoy.  Kids this age love being the expert.
-Get outdoors and visit local parks.  You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?)  They can write this up and keep, so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
-Let them help you search and plan some activities.
-Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
-If your host children are in scouts, find out if there are things that they need to complete that you can work on with them.  Even if they are not in scouts, I suggest you check your local library for Cub Scout Handbooks (Tiger, Wolf, Bear & Webelos.)  They are full of activities appropriate for boys (and girls) from age 7-11.
-If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.

Note: Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places.

Big Kids Need Interaction, Too

Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time.  Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or video game.

Problem:
But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.

Solution:
Instead of saying – “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)?  The answer will often be, “No.”

Try this – “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do  ___ or ____?”  (Make sure both the choices are things you approve of.)
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun, if you pick a good activity.

Problem:
I don’t know what to do with school age kids?

Solution:
Here are a few easy ideas to start with.  Look for more on the internet and the library.  Google “activities school age kids” or “activities tweens”
-Cooking
-Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age appropriate)
-Going fun places (check the Cluster Google Map for all kinds of great places in the local area including pottery making, jewelry making, farms, museums and more)
-Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating, and more)
-Visit places in the area like the library, museums and attractions in DC, mini-golf and go-karts
-Let them teach you to do something they enjoy.  Kids this age love being the expert.
-Get outdoors and visit local parks.  You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?)  They can write this up and keep, so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
-Let them help you search and plan some activities.
-Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
-If your host children are in scouts, find out if there are things that they need to complete that you can work on with them.  Even if they are not in scouts, I suggest you check your local library for Cub Scout Handbooks (Tiger, Wolf, Bear & Webelos.)  They are full of activities appropriate for boys (and girls) from age 7-11.
-If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.

Note: Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places.

Big Kids Need Interaction, Too

Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time.  Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or video game.

Problem:
But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.

Solution:
Instead of saying – “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)?  The answer will often be, “No.”

Try this – “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do  ___ or ____?”  (Make sure both the choices are things you approve of.)
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun, if you pick a good activity.

Problem:
I don’t know what to do with school age kids?

Solution:
Here are a few easy ideas to start with.  Look for more on the internet and the library.  Google “activities school age kids” or “activities tweens”
-Cooking
-Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age appropriate)
-Going fun places (check the Cluster Google Map for all kinds of great places in the local area including pottery making, jewelry making, farms, museums and more)
-Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating, and more)
-Visit places in the area like the library, museums and attractions in DC, mini-golf and go-karts
-Let them teach you to do something they enjoy.  Kids this age love being the expert.
-Get outdoors and visit local parks.  You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?)  They can write this up and keep, so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
-Let them help you search and plan some activities.
-Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
-If your host children are in scouts, find out if there are things that they need to complete that you can work on with them.  Even if they are not in scouts, I suggest you check your local library for Cub Scout Handbooks (Tiger, Wolf, Bear & Webelos.)  They are full of activities appropriate for boys (and girls) from age 7-11.
-If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.

Note: Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places.

Big Kids Need Interaction, Too

Kids play LabyrinthX-2Just because a child is old enough to occupy themselves, doesn’t mean that they should be expected to do so the majority of the time.  Host families have a certain expectation of activity and involvement for their children. Get the kids engaged and active. You can be more fun than the TV or video game.

Problem:
But, my kids don’t want to do anything but watch TV or play video games.

Solution:
Instead of saying – “Would you like to (fill in the blank with any activity)?  The answer will often be, “No.”

Try this – “Now we are going to (fill in the blank with any activity.) or “Would you rather do  ___ or ____?”  (Make sure both the choices are things you approve of.)
Your chances of co-operation are greatly increased. Even kids who are reluctant to try new things will usually get in the spirit of things and have fun, if you pick a good activity.

Problem:
I don’t know what to do with school age kids?

Solution:
Here are a few easy ideas to start with.  Look for more on the internet and the library.  Google “activities school age kids” or “activities tweens”
-Cooking
-Making things (check craft stores like Michael’s for kits and models that are age appropriate)
-Going fun places (check the Cluster Google Map for all kinds of great places in the local area including pottery making, jewelry making, farms, museums and more)
-Sports (soccer, tennis, swimming, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating, and more)
-Visit places in the area like the library, museums and attractions in DC, mini-golf and go-karts
-Let them teach you to do something they enjoy.  Kids this age love being the expert.
-Get outdoors and visit local parks.  You can even make a project of reviewing all the local parks (what kind of equipment they have, is there shade, water fountain?)  They can write this up and keep, so they remember which ones they want to go to again and which ones to skip in the future.
-Let them help you search and plan some activities.
-Check on the APIA Pinterest page and here on our cluster blog for ideas.
-If your host children are in scouts, find out if there are things that they need to complete that you can work on with them.  Even if they are not in scouts, I suggest you check your local library for Cub Scout Handbooks (Tiger, Wolf, Bear & Webelos.)  They are full of activities appropriate for boys (and girls) from age 7-11.
-If you have a GPS, try taking them geocaching. Here is a website with all the details.

Note: Always get permission from your host parents before taking the kids places.

Contest: The first au pair in my cluster to send me a message (email or Facebook) telling me their favorite activity to do with school age kids will win a prize!