Tag Archives: au pair

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

Social Distancing: 10 Things You CAN Do Right Now

Social distancing is important right now to help slow the spread of coronavirus. This means avoiding places where you come in contact with lots of people (schools, movies, restaurants, museums, concerts, parties, etc.)  I am sure you keep hearing a lot about the things you should not do.

It’s also important to have ideas of things you can do. There are plenty of activities you can do at home and away from crowds.

While we can’t control many things going on right now in the world, we can choose how we deal with it.

“She turned her can’ts into cans
and her dreams into plans.” 
– Kobi Yamada

 

Here are 10 things you CAN do right now:

  • Stay connected with your friends and family via social media, texting, and Skype.
  • Go for a walk or run on your own. As long as you don’t go to a populated place, it’s fine to go out for some exercise.
  • Enjoy nature. That could be sitting outside in your backyard on a nice day or walking on a nature trail.
  • Read a book or listen to an audiobook or podcast. Getting lost in a story is a great way to take your mind off of things. Or if you pick a non-fiction book or podcast you may learn something new. You could even create an online book club or podcast discussion group with friends.
  • Do yoga. Yoga can be a great way to relieve stress and maintain your fitness. There are many free yoga videos on Youtube. Sign up here to receive daily emails for 30 Days of Yoga.
  • Take virtual tours of museums online.*
  • Make memories in the kitchen.* Cooking recipes from your home country is a great way to share your culture with your host family and give yourself a taste of home. Cooking classic American recipes is a way to continue your cultural exchange. You can find lots of recipes online. Also, you will be able to share that taste of America with your own family by cooking some of these recipes after you return home at the end of your program.
  • Have an online watch party with friends. When you watch a movie alone do you miss talking to a friend about what’s happening? Pick a time and a movie and from your individual homes you each stream the movie on Netflix at the same time. You can text or do a group chat during the movie.
  • Make top 10 lists of your favorite things like movies, foods, songs and more. Share and compare lists with your friends. You may find out some things you didn’t know about each other and get some ideas for new things to try.
  • Research and plan trips to places you want to visit while in the U.S.* This time of social distancing won’t last forever. Use this time to do some research online and make plans. This will help you make the most of those trips when you get to take them a few months from now. It will also give you something to look forward to.

*Future blog posts in this series will have more detailed information on these topics.

 

Dealing with Social Distancing

The coronavirus has caused lots of temporary changes to our daily routines. Right now, we are being asked to practice “social distancing” to reduce the spread of the virus.

What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a way to keep people from interacting as closely or frequently enough to spread the virus. Schools, sporting events and concerts are being canceled. People are being asked to stay at home more to avoid being in contact with a large number of people.

What are some ways to take care of yourself?
Some people may feel anxious, lonely or frustrated and that is totally normal. It can be very helpful to talk with friends and family about those feelings. It helps to know that others are going through these same emotions. Reach out to your community counselor if you need support during this time.

It is very important to practice good self-care. Connect with people you love via Skype and text, maintain a healthy diet, stay active, make plans for things you want to do once things get back to normal. Staying out of crowds doesn’t have to mean just staying in the home. You can go for walks and enjoy nature. Both exercise and spending time in nature are beneficial for your mental health.

Where can you get practical tips for dealing with social distancing?
We recognize that some of these changes will require patience and resourcefulness. During this time, we will be doing a series of blog posts with resources to assist you with two specific aspects of this situation:

  • Ideas for keeping the kids occupied (while they are home from school)
  • Ways to continue your cultural exchange from home

Photo: Meg Willis  

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.

 

How to Manage Longer Days with Children – When School is out and Camp isn’t On!

Summer -  Ryan HydeHere are some ideas to keep your kids busy this summer!

Top Ten – How to Manage Longer Days with Children – When School is out and Camp isn’t On!
Au pairs should always check with their host parents to seek approval for any childcare activities.

10. Start A Summer Scrapbook!
Include drawings, pictures, and journal entries of activities from the summer. It will be special because children and their au pair created it together. This could be a hard version, a computer generated one, a movie of daily clips set to music…..they could even make 2 copies – one for her and one for them to keep!

9. Have a picnic!
Spread the planning and preparation across a few days to get them excited!
First, decide on a location, and have a few choices from which the children can pick. For example, their backyard, a town park or near a pond. Include a rain plan – will they choose an alternate in door solution or go on another date? Create ballots and let them vote!
Make the picnic ‘basket’ —- use a plain box and let the children decorate it! Then, decide on a menu — look up recipes and shop for the ingredients together….prepare anything that can be done ahead of time — and then when it is “the day,” finish the picnic packing and go!

8. Switch It UP
Have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner! Plan the menu and prepare together!
Who doesn’t like pancakes for dinner???? (If their host parents don’t, then ignore this one!)

7. Have a Pajama Day!
Plan an indoor PJ day. Choose books to read, cookies to make, a movie to watch, indoor tent with blankets and go! Think of it as a snow day (on a rainy day) in the summer!

6. Six websites with nifty ideas!

Create your own holiday www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson018.shtml
Start a collection www.ehow.com/how_10563_start-collection.html
Scavenger Hunt http://www.lovetheoutdoors.com/camping/kids/scavengerhunt.htm
Build a sandcastle www.sandcastlecentral.com/toolpages/
Plant a garden www.geocities.com/mastergardener2k/
Make a bubble solution www.bubblemania.com/faq/solution.html

5. Park it!

Make a list of area parks. After each visit, have the children critique it….what was good, what did they like about it….what didn’t they like? Create a chart with applicable headings including a rating system. At the end of their comparison, their chart will show them where they like to go for what activities, etc. This is a great hand down tool as well for subsequent au pairs or the parents themselves!

4. Taste Test Day!
Buy several brands of vanilla – and try one bite of each and see what they like best! Or do flavors – let the children choose! Different versions….yogurt tasting, cheese/crackers, salsas or red vs. green grapes!

3. Make a Diorama!

Have children re-create a scene from their favorite book, zoo or outing. http://www.ehow.com/how_12761_make-diorama.html

2. Have a home book club!

Everyone read the same book – and compare your thoughts on it.
Here are some ideas: http://www.scholastic.com/ups/campaigns/src-2015

1. AP Day!

Once a week — have a Day dedicated to the au pair’s country! Eat some foods from her country…and have her share typical summer activities she did growing up. She can read the children a book in her native language as well as teach them how to sing and count! As the children get the hang of it – they can make a list of things they would like her to teach or tell them. Au pairs could even team up to share ‘days’ from their countries with each other’s children!

Photo: Flickr Ryan Hyde

Butterfly Bunch for Mother’s Day

 

Make a memorable Butterfly Bunch for Mother’s Day this year.  Mount these amazing butterflies on mom’s bathroom mirror on Mother’s Day for a great start to her day.  

Just wing it! No one will believe this wall art is made from toilet-paper tubes from Family Fun!

Tube Crafts Colorful Butterfly Bunch on Wall

Biz Jones

What You’ll Need:

Toilet- and/or paper-towel tubes
Gesso (optional, for brighter color)
Craft paint
Hot-glue gun or adhesive dots
Poster putty

Directions:

1. If desired, prime tubes inside and out with gesso; let dry. Then paint; let dry completely

2. Flatten the tubes and use scissors to cut them into slices. For a large butterfly, you’ll need five ⅝-inch-wide slices. For a small butterfly, you’ll need two ½-inch-wide slices and one ¼-inch-wide slice (eyeball it).

3. To construct the small butterfly: Fold two ½-inchwide slices in half; unfold. Add a dot of hot glue (an adult’s job) to the inside center of each and refold to make a set of wings. Glue the two sets of wings to the sides of the ¼-inch-wide “body.”

4. To construct a large butterfly: Add a dot of glue to the inside center of one of the ⅝-inch slices and squish it together to make a “body.” Add a dot of glue to the flat side and press on another slice for a wing, as shown. Repeat for other three wings.

5. To assemble into artwork: Arrange the butterflies on the floor first; use poster putty to attach them to the wall.

Personal Safety-General Safety Tips

Personal Safety – General Safety Tips

April 7, 2018 – 9:22 am

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These tips are not intended to scare you, but to make you aware of some simple things you can do to prevent being the victim of a crime.

  • Listen to and act on your intuition. It’s better to be safe and risk a little embarrassment, than stay in an uncomfortable situation that may be unsafe.
  • If you are in danger or being attacked and want to get help, yell “Call 911!” or give specific directions to onlookers; for example: “You! Get the police!” or “Walk me to the store on the corner, I’m being followed.”
  • Have your keys ready when approaching your car or building.
  • Vary your routine: drive or walk different routes every day. If you suspect that someone is following you, by foot or in a car, don’t go home (or they will know where you live). Go to a trusted neighbor or to a public place to call police, or go directly to the police station.
  • Do not label keys with your name or any identification.
  • Don’t talk about your social life or vacation plans where strangers can overhear you.
  • Carry your cell phone with you at all times.

10 Ways to Incorporate Positive Childcare

Here are 10 tips to incorporate Positive Childcare into your day.  These tips are written by:  C. McCrory.

1. Boredom at Bay

When a child begins to get bored, their little bodies wander, and often into trouble or mischief. It is important to make sure you keep the children busy with different things to do if they cannot occupy themselves alone, or until they are able to entertain themselves. Keeping a list of quick and easy activities or games is a good idea to avoid rushing to find something to occupy little ones. If they are busy with the right activities, you’ll avoid potential misbehaviour and mess.

2. Endless Encouraging

Positivity leads to smiles, not sadness. Children look up to adults around them for approval and examples, which is why encouraging them is so important. When children do something right, well or good, make sure you awknoledge that right away. Your positive comments and encouragement will make them want to repeat that behaviour and act in a way which is pleasing to you. You will also be building their self-esteem and confidence, leading to stronger little individuals.

3. Reward not Reverse

When children take positive and appropriate actions, rewards them where needed. In contrast, do not use a reward as an encouragement to do something. The reward should be a positive surprise, not an incentive to do something. This is in fact bribing, and it is not constructive. In addition, the reward is best to be non-material, such as an shared activity, not a ‘thing’ like a toy.  You want positive actions to become first nature, without them expecting anything in consequence.

4. Listen and Protect

Be attentive to what children express to you, especially if they share something that is bad, negative, scary or worrisome to them. You want to react in a positive and supportive way so that the child continue to trust you and share with you. If you have a negative reaction, this will deter the child from coming to you in the future. A strong relationship of trust can be built with children and the importance of this in their live is significant and necessary.

5. Boulder Boundaries

Boundaries are essential to a child’s development and understanding. Setting limits serves the purpose of protecting a child, helping then understand rules and creating a sense of safety.  By nature, as little as they are, they will still challenge these boundaries, and it is essential that you maintain these and remain consistent in what you say. Over time, children will challenge what you say and do less and less as they better understand that you mean what you say.

6. Teaching By Example

Children may have little eyes and ears, but they still take it all in. They are constantly watching you and listening to what you say to them or others. As adults are examples to them, they will mimic certain behaviours they see you do, which is why it is so important that you behave in way you would want them to behave. Be as attentive to your own behaviour as you are to theirs.

7. Keep Calm and Carry On

Also part of “teaching by example,” you do not want to let your anger cause you to react in a way you do not want children to mimic or witness. If you are angry in a way that is affecting your thought process and behaviour, then take a step back and wait before reacting. Conversation can occur once you have regained your calm and discipline can take place once you mind is clear.

8. If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again.

Looking after children is not easy, in fact many say it is one of the most challenging job in the world. It can, at times, be exhausting, draining, frustrating and overwhelming. The best you can do is to do the best that you can, don’t try to be perfect because no one is. Parenting and caring for children is a challenge, one that you should not be afraid to ask for help with. Whatever you do, don’t get overwhelmed, and take it one day at a time!

9. The Bright Side of Discipline

Discipline is an amazing thing that will build good, well behaved and understanding children. This is not the shouting, screaming, violent or threatening kind of discipline, this is the healthy, constructive, clear and reasoned discipline. They key is to be calm, clear and consistent(the 3 C’s of Discipline) to help children understand the reason why they are being punished, how they are being punished and that this means you care about them. Find a strategy that works for your household and carry it out when necessary, following the 3 C’s.

10. T.L.C – Tender love and care.

Some people have a natural tendency to shy away from emotions and closeness, but this is an essential element of childcare. Children need love, comfort, warmth and protection. Do not be afraid of showing this to them by playing with them, taking time for them, hugs, kind words and holding their hand. Be aware and attentive of their emotional needs and do your best to meet them.

Flu Alert – Tips to Stay Healthy this Flu Season

You can’t turn on the television news lately without hearing about the flu epidemic.  The seasonal flu seems to be a particularly strong virus this year.  Here’s some useful information from the Center for Disease Control about how you can protect yourself from the flu and how to treat yourself and your host children should you get sick.

It is NOT too late to get a Flu Vaccine.  Au Pair insurance does not cover immunizations, but there are lots of places to get flu shots for $30 or less. Check your local health department or stores with a pharmacy such as CVS, Target and Walgreens. If a host family is insisting that their au pair get a seasonal flu shot and she agrees to get it, the host family would be responsible for the expense.

An Ounce of Prevention
There are steps you can take in your daily life to help protect you from getting the flu.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.  Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • Practice good health habits.  Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medicine.

Symptoms of the Flu
The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms.  It can be difficult to tell the difference between them.  Your healthcare provider can give you a test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether or not you have the flu.

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold.  Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough are more common and intense with the flu.

Flu symptoms include:

  • A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
  • A cough and/or sore throat
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

Treating the Flu
You can treat flu symptoms without medication by:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated
  • Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with a fever
  • Putting a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier
  • Gargling salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat
  • Covering up with a warm blanket to calm chills

Children are at higher risk for getting the flu because their immune systems are not fully developed.  If your host child gets sick, always ask your host parents before giving any medications to the children.  There are strict guidelines for dosages and they MUST be followed.  Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have the flu.  Giving aspirin to children with the flu can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s Syndrome.  Read ingredient labels on over-the-counter medications carefully to ensure they do not contain aspirin.

Privacy & Personal Information Online

We live in a time of constant sharing through social media. We often share pictures, plans of somewhere we are going or rants about problems, without thinking much about who will see it and what could be the consequences.

Before clicking post, stop to think:

  • Am I violating someone’s privacy?
  • Am I sharing personal info. that could put me in danger?
  • Would I want my current or a future employer to see this?

This will help protect your privacy and safety as well as that of your host family. It is important 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 give out information like your telephone number and address to people you don’t know. Safer to meet a new friend in a public place, than to give them your address before knowing them.

Once you post something on the internet (even if you later delete it), it can show up elsewhere.  Unless you have specific permission from your host family, you should never 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.