Tag Archives: tips

Back to School Tips

Jens Rost backpacks

Kids in our cluster will be returning to school soon. This will mean changes to the au pair schedule and possibly to the duties.  It is very important to communicate these changes to avoid problems.

I suggest you discuss the following (if applicable):

  • 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)
  • How to tell if school has been cancelled or delayed for bad weather
  • Add the au pair to your list of people allowed to pick up the kids from school
  • What to pack for lunch
  • The routine after school (do they have free time before starting homework, what to give for snack, any chores, where do they put their backpacks & lunchboxes)
  • How to communicate about what’s going on at school. (Kids in Care Log Books are available upon request from APIA)

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

If the au pair will be the one going through the children’s back pack and helping with homework, I suggest you designate an area for putting things that need to be read and/or signed by parents.

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.

Photo: Jens Rost (Flickr)

Hints for Success – Homesickness/Culture Shock

heart hand byAlmost everyone experiences culture shock when they come to a completely new environment. Everything is different: the language, the food, and the people.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for
Dealing with Homesickness

1. Make Friends – Don’t wait for other au pairs to reach out to you, reach out to them. There are other lots of new au pairs who are feeling the same way you are right now. Set a goal to reach out to a few of them each day. Some will respond and some will not. Don’t let that discourage you. No one will ever be mad at you for sending them a message to say hello or ask if they want to do something together. Make friends from various countries and you will also get a chance to practice your English skills together.

2. Stay in touch with your home country, but not too much. Skyping or talking on the phone every day with your family and/or friends back home normally makes homesickness worse. Try emailing instead and reduce the Skype and phone calls to once a week, until you feel stronger. It’s much harder seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those you miss.

3. Get out of the house (or your room specifically) – Go to cluster meetings, have coffee or movies with other au pairs, join a gym, go to the library, go for a walk, visit the mall, get a manicure, visit a museum. If someone invites you out, say “yes.” Also, don’t be afraid to do the inviting. If your host family invites you to do things with them, say “yes.” This will help you get to know each other and contribute to your overall happiness.

4. Realize that it definitely gets better – All au pairs experience homesickness and nearly all of them stay and have a successful year (some stay for two years.) So, it must get better, right? Once you get past the initial homesickness, most au pairs report how quickly the year goes by.

5. Make Plans – Create your own Au Pair Bucket List (places you want to go, new foods to try, new things to experience during your year in the U.S.) and start doing them now. Post on our cluster Facebook group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Photo by:  Shimelle Laine (Flickr)

What to Do After an Accident

car accidentHaving a car accident is a very upsetting, stressful situation. Being prepared and knowing what to do can make things a little bit easier. Make sure you know which host parent to call in case of an accident.

Make sure you have all the necessary documents in your car glove box. Read this post on What to Keep in the Car Glove Box for a detailed list.

If you have an accident: (from Edmunds.com)

  1. Keep Safety First. Drivers involved in minor accidents with no serious injuries should move cars to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. Leaving cars parked in the middle of the road or busy intersection can result in additional accidents and injuries. If a car cannot be moved, drivers and passengers should remain in the cars with seatbelts fastened for everyone’s safety until help arrives. Make sure to turn on hazard lights and set out cones, flares or warning triangles if possible.
  2. Exchange Information. After the accident, exchange the following information: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver license number and license plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle. If the driver’s name is different from the name of the insured, establish what the relationship is and take down the name and address for each individual. Also make a written description of each car, including year, make, model and color — and the exact location of the collision and how it happened. Finally, be polite but don’t tell the other drivers or the police that the accident was your fault, even if you think it was.
  3. Photograph and Document the Accident. Use your camera to document the damage to all the vehicles. Keep in mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the accident so that you can make your case to a claims adjuster. If there were witnesses, try to get their contact information; they may be able to help you if the other drivers dispute your version of what happened.

Image: cygnus921 (Flickr)

Stopping for School Buses

With some schools about to go back in session and many new au pairs who have recently arrived, I wanted to remind everyone about what to do in different situations with school buses. If you have questions, please ask myself or your host parents.

school-bus-stop

The rules regarding stopping for school buses are:

  • It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus while its lights are flashing and its’ stop arm is extended.
  • On undivided roadways, with no physical barrier or median, vehicles must stop on both sides of the roadway.
  • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and children are getting on or off. Motorists approaching from either direction must wait until the red lights stop flashing before proceeding.

Police, who observe a motorist failing to stop and remained stopped for a school bus, can issue the violator a citation which carries a $570.00 fine and 3 points. Drivers failing to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk can be issued a citation for $80.00, and drivers failing to exercise due caution when encountering children can be issued a citation for $70.00.

Back to School Tips

Jens Rost backpacks

Kids in our cluster will be returning to school soon. This will mean changes to the au pair schedule and possibly to the duties.  It is very important to communicate these changes to avoid problems.

I suggest you discuss the following (if applicable):

  • 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)
  • How to tell if school has been cancelled or delayed for bad weather
  • Add the au pair to your list of people allowed to pick up the kids from school
  • What to pack for lunch
  • The routine after school (do they have free time before starting homework, what to give for snack, any chores, where do they put their backpacks & lunchboxes)
  • How to communicate about what’s going on at school. (Kids in Care Log Books are available upon request from APIA)

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

If the au pair will be the one going through the children’s back pack and helping with homework, I suggest you designate an area for putting things that need to be read and/or signed by parents.

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.

Photo: Jens Rost (Flickr)

What to Do After a Car Accident

car-accident-cartoonHaving a car accident is a very upsetting, stressful situation. Being prepared and knowing what to do can make things a little bit easier. Make sure you know which host parent to call in case of an accident.

Make sure you have all the necessary documents in your car glove box. Read this post on What to Keep in the Car Glove Box for a detailed list.

If you have an accident: (from Edmunds.com)

  1. Keep Safety First. Drivers involved in minor accidents with no serious injuries should move cars to the side of the road and out of the way of oncoming traffic. Leaving cars parked in the middle of the road or busy intersection can result in additional accidents and injuries. If a car cannot be moved, drivers and passengers should remain in the cars with seatbelts fastened for everyone’s safety until help arrives. Make sure to turn on hazard lights and set out cones, flares or warning triangles if possible.
  2. Exchange Information. After the accident, exchange the following information: name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver license number and license plate number for the driver and the owner of each vehicle. If the driver’s name is different from the name of the insured, establish what the relationship is and take down the name and address for each individual. Also make a written description of each car, including year, make, model and color — and the exact location of the collision and how it happened. Finally, be polite but don’t tell the other drivers or the police that the accident was your fault, even if you think it was.
  3. Photograph and Document the Accident. Use your camera to document the damage to all the vehicles. Keep in mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the accident so that you can make your case to a claims adjuster. If there were witnesses, try to get their contact information; they may be able to help you if the other drivers dispute your version of what happened.

Pumpkin Carving

5144853167_b06931ebcf_nHere is a video explaining how to carve a pumpkin (as well as some non-carving alternatives.) If you got a pumpkin at our pumpkin patch cluster meeting, I don’t recommend carving it yet. It would be better to wait until next weekend (10/26-27) if you want it to stay fresh for Halloween.

Find more fun Halloween & Fall Tips on the APIA Pinterest board.

October 6-12 is Fire Safety Week

Click here to read more fire safety tips on the FEMA website

Click here to read more fire safety tips on the FEMA website

Here are some Fire Safety Tips from http://www.usfa.fema.gov/:

Control Kids’ Access to Fire

  • Keep all matches and lighters out of the hands of children. If possible, keep these sources of fire in locked drawers. Consider buying only “child-proof” lighters—but be aware that no product is completely child-proof.
  • Children as young as two years old can strike matches and start fires.
  • Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.
  • Teach children not to pick up matches or lighters they may find. Instead, they should tell an adult immediately.

Fire Safety at Home

  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, especially near sleeping areas.
  • Smoke alarms should be kept clean of dust by regularly vacuuming over and around them.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. And replace the entire unit after ten years of service, or as the manufacturer recommends.
  • Families should plan and practice two escape routes from each room of their home.

Photo: Tony Alter

Privacy, Personal Information & The Internet

fb twitter youtubeJust a reminder about how important it is to respect your host family’s privacy and not share personal details and information.  This applies to all kinds of situations, including: personal conversations, email and social websites.

For your own safety, it is a good idea to be careful what personal information you share about yourself as well. You should not be giving out information like your telephone number and address to people you don’t know.

Once you post something on the internet (even if you later delete it), it can show up elsewhere.  Unless you have specific permission from the host family, you should not post pictures of them, their children or their home on the internet.

If you have a blog or website where you post in your native language, remember there is translation software.  So, even if you say it in your native language, be sure it is not something you will regret.