Tag Archives: Child Care

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

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.

Make Your Own Play Dough

Play Dough - Kevin JarrettMake your own play dough!Play dough is the perfect modeling material for children. Their small hands can pat, poke, pinch, roll and knead it into many shapes. Keep it in an airtight container to use another day, or let it air dry into favorite shapes.

Measure 2 cups of flour, one cup of salt and 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of oil to one cup of water in a separate bowl then add the mixture to the dry ingredients. For colored play dough, squeeze 10-20 drops of food coloring into the water before you add it to the mixture. Cook the dough at low heat in a wide pan, stirring constantly until it becomes rubbery. Remove the dough from the heat and knead it for a few minutes. When it cools the kids can play too!

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)

Witch’s Broom Treat Bag.

 

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What You’ll Need:

  • Brown Paper Lunch Bags
  • Scissors
  • Rubber Bands
  • Ribbon, String, or Yarn
  • Sticks (from your yard)
  • Candy

 

  • Easy Step-by-Step Directions:
  1. Create the broom’s bristles by cutting one of the paper bags in 1⁄2″ strips from the very top (where the bag opens) to the very bottom, stopping at the part of the bag that sits flat on the table top.
  2. Lay the cut paper bag flat on the table.Place the uncut paper bag on top of the cut paper bag, so that the bottoms are sitting exactly on top of one another.
  3. Fill the uncut paper bag about one-quarter full with the candy of your choice.
  4. Put the stick in the middle of the uncut paper bag.
  5. Bring the loose strips of the cut paper bag up and around the sides of the uncut paper bag. Holding both bags tightly against the stick (about half way up) secure with a rubber band.
  6. Tie a piece of string, yarn, or ribbon tightly around the paper bags, concealing the rubber band. Trim excess paper bag.

Use bags as favors/place cards at your next Halloween or Thanksgiving party. Simply print your guests names on cardstock, cut out, and attach to the fronts of the bags!

Spooky Tree Centerpiece

 

Spooky_Tree_centerpiece

What You’ll Need:

  • Black Plastic Cauldron
  • Floral/Craft Foam
  • Glass Gems, Rocks, or Stones
  • Halloween Tinsel Garland
  • Plastic Skeleton Garland
  • Twigs from Your Yard
  • Paint & Paint Brush (Optional)
  • Glittery Bat Ornaments
    Easy Step-by-Step Directions:
  1. First, gather a few spooky-looking twigs from your yard.
  2. Place the floral/craft foam in the center of the cauldron and fill the empty space around the foam with glass gems, rocks, or stones. This will anchor your foam and provide stability for your tree.
  3. Stick the twigs from your yard securely into the foam…make sure you push them far into the foam for stability. Arrange twigs into your desired tree shape. If you want to paint your twigs black or another color, do that next. They will be easier to paint standing upright in the foam. Set the tree aside to dry.
  4. Once the twigs are dry,cover the stones at the base of the tree with Halloween tinsel garland, then place the skeleton garland on top of the tinsel and position the skeletons however you wish.
  5. Decorate the tree with more skeletons, Halloween creepy creatures, or handmade glittery bat ornaments.

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.