When the kids are out of school on summer break there are soooo many possibilities. But, if you don’t make plans, you will often end up in the house with bored kids getting into trouble and arguing with their siblings. Make plans!
Having lots of ideas ready can minimize those problems.
Looking for fun activity ideas to get the summer started off right with your host kids?
The Au Pair in America Summer Fun Pinboard is a great place to start. Together, create a Summer Bucket List. Talk with the kids about things they would like to see and do. Even toddlers and preschoolers can contribute to the conversation. Run these plans by your host parents and clear things like how much you may spend and when is best to do some of these activities.
Check back here next week for information on CampAuPairinAmerica: a weekly blog series with themes for a summer break filled with fun and new adventures.
When kids are out of school for the summer, it doesn’t take long for them to become bored and sometimes that leads to sibling squabbles and mischief. Even though they don’t realize it, they are usually missing routine and predictability in their daily schedule. One solution is to make fun plans to keep them busy!
Each week this summer we will share a different Camp Au Pair theme. These weekly themes are designed to give you ideas to keep your host kids occupied and engaged all summer long. They will also be learning. (But shhhh, don’t tell them that part.) Check back each Friday, for the next week’s theme. This gives you a chance to make plans and gather materials for the next week. For each theme there will be crafts, games, snacks and activities. You can just use these ideas or add your own and customize the themes to fit the ages and interests of your host children.
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.
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 hereto receive daily emails for 30 Days of Yoga.
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.
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)
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.
“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.
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.
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.
In honor of Baby Safety Month, here are some more specific baby tips:
If you must leave the baby alone for a few moments, be sure she is safely in a crib or play pen.
Check condition and sturdiness of toys. Discard any with sharp edges or that are broken or falling apart.
Check clothing for loose buttons and remove strings.
Is baby’s pacifier still in good condition? Be sure it isn’t coming apart. Never use strings to attach the pacifier to baby’s clothes or crib.
Where do you set baby’s carrier when she’s in it? Not on the counter or any high surface, please. Babies can wiggle and tip themselves over.
Stroller check. If your stroller is collapsible, be sure latches are secure before putting baby in. Always check that your child’s arms are out of the way when reversing handle directions so they won’t get pinched. Be sure to use that safety strap. Don’t hang overloaded or heavy bags on the handle of the stroller, as this may cause it to tip over.
Can you name the 12 most common choking foods for kids under five? Popcorn, hot dogs, chunks of meat, raisins, ice cubes, chunky peanut butter, peanuts (nuts of any kind), hard candy, grapes, raw carrots, potato chips and corn chips.
Don’t leave toddlers alone while eating; if they begin to choke, you need to be nearby to assist.
Never leave a child unattended in the bathtub. If the phone rings, let the machine get it, or bring a cordless phone into the bathroom with you. Wait until baby can sit alone to give baths in the tub. It’s easier in the sink until then.
Enroll in an infant/child CPR and first aid class. This will be a valuable investment of your time, and Au Pair in America will pay for it.
The back pack is very important to review every day. This is one of the links between school and home for the student. Backpacks quickly become disorganized and notices missed if you do not empty it every day! Here is what we suggest you do every day:
After the student arrives home, empty the backpack on a table.
Find the homework. Set it out in the homework area with all the supplies needed to complete the homework.
Put the lunch box in the kitchen. Empty it, discard the garbage, and see if the child actually ate the lunch that was packed. Wipe out the lunch box. Let the parents know what was not eaten!
Find all notices sent home with the child. Find anything that needs to be filled out by the parents. If it is your responsibility to keep track of activities, put them on the calendar now. If not, make sure the parents see them.
Make sure permission slips, fundraisers, book orders, photo notices and anything else that must be signed is done on time. Make sure these items get back in the backpack and the child turns them in on time. If the signed form and money is in the back pack at the end of the day, the child forgot to give it to the teacher. Remind the child, tell the parent!!
All completed homework must be put in the homework folder in the backpack as soon as the homework is completed. Make sure there is a sturdy folder to put the homework in; the child knows where it is when he or she arrives at school. The homework will stay neater this way!!
In the morning, recheck for homework. Is it in the folder? Are all permission slips and notices requiring money in the folder in the backpack?
Make lunch and put the lunch box in the backpack. If the lunch box is in the backpack there is less chance it will be left on the bus!!
Does the child need to bring anything else to school that day? Maybe he or she needs gym clothes, or something for show and tell. Put it in the backpack!
At the end of the week, make sure all work sent home is placed out for the parents to see. Any dirty gym clothes are taken out of the backpack and put in the laundry. The back pack and the lunch box should be wiped out and kept clean!!
If you have a hard day, feel homesick or lonely, please listen to this wonderful song written by a German au pair who had a tough time but successfully completed her year. She recorded this song with the help of her host child.
Almost everyone experiences culture shock when they come to a completely new environment. Everything is different: the language, the food, and the people.
Here are some 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. Try volunteering, there are so many opportunities in the area.
6. Tell your Host Family- they want to know how you are doing, and it helps to let them know.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states then others followed. It is now celebrated on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays).
Americans honor those who have lost their lives for their country by visiting cemeteries, placing flags and flowers on graves, flying the U.S. flag at half-staff until noon and attending parades.Children can be a part of Memorial Day too. Here are some links to children’s activities: