Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book Review of Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research, and Public Policy
By Craig Anderson

Last week we commented on the International Nanny Association press release stating they do not support the violent video game Dante's Inferno that portrays a "Bad Nanny "that kills unbaptized babies. Click here to see article.

There are many books on the topic of violent video games and their effect on children (and even more articles), we review one book today.
Violent video games are successfully marketed to and easily obtained by children and adolescents. Is there any scientific evidence to support the claims that violent games contribute to aggressive and violent behavior?

Craig Anderson, a leading investigator of the consequences of violence in the mass media, and his colleagues Douglas Gentile and Katherine Buckley, write extremely scholarly and highly sophisticated explanation of the topic. It is not an easy read but they describe both why participation in violent games promote violence by the players and why the public at large find it difficult to accept the great amount of collected evidence that now exists documenting these ill effects.

They focus on both developmental processes and how media-violence exposure can increase the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both short- and long-term contexts.

Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents also reviews the history of these games' growth, and explores the public policy options for controlling their distribution. They state that society should begin a more productive debate about whether to reduce the high rates of exposure to media violence, and delineate the public policy options that are likely be most effective.

Do you think violent video games effect children?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Casting Call for Nannies

The web site Reality Wanted has posted a casting call for nannies from Pink Sneakers Productions.

Pink Sneakers Productions are seeking nannies who want to be on TV. Applicants will interview with an expecting couple who will be hiring a nanny. No gags, swapping families, or competitions – just parents-to-be who need a nanny. Applicants must be willing to sign a release and appear on camera. Please send us a few paragraphs telling us about yourself, detailing your experience as a nanny, and tell them about the way you do your job- in other words, are you firm with children, strict, willing to lay down the law? Or do you subscribe to other methods? Also, please attach a picture of yourself. Interviews will be held on camera this Saturday 10/31 from 10am to Noon in Tampa, FL.

Click on their advertisement for more information and to reply.

What are the Kids Being for Halloween?

Many nannies have been emailing Be the Best Nanny Newsletter asking what children are wearing for Halloween costumes. We don't know. So we welcome nannies and au pairs to send us photos of their charges wearing their costumes.

Obama Hundred Dollar Bill
To the left is the most createive Halloween costume we received so far. The Obama hundred dollar bill was made by a mother in Montclair, New Jersey for her son.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Making Candy Apples for Nannies and Au Pairs

You will need:

Firm apples
Large Popsicle sticks or wooden skewers
Corn syrup (1/2 cup)
Sugar (2 cups)
Water (3/4 cup)

Additional toppings listed below

1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

2. Poke Popsicle sticks or cinnamon sticks through the top of firm applies. Place the apples on the cookie sheet. standing upright with sticks pointing up in the air.

3. Place the ingredients listed above (not the optional toppings) in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Don't stir the sugar mixture once it begins to boil, to avoid crystallizing the candy. Use a pastry brush to brush the sides of the pot with warm water, to prevent crystals from forming. Simmer until the candy reaches 290 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the candy from heat when it's at 290 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. When the candy mixture is ready, work quickly to coat the apples, before it hardens. Dip your apples, holding the wooden stick, and submerge completely in the candy. Tilt the pot as necessary and spoon candy over the apples for full coating.

5. Roll the apples in candy or nut coating before the candy shell hardens.

6. Place apples on the cookie sheet. When all your apples are covered, place them in the refrigerator to cool.

Suggested toppings to roll apple in:

Candy corn
Crushed peanuts or cashews
Toasted coconut
Red hots candies
Chocolate chips

Life Savers candies

Jelly beans

Gummi bears

Dried fruit

What's your favorite Halloween treat to make with children?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Recipes for Au Pairs and Nannies

Cute Meatball Bugs

We made these little meatball bugs using Pillsbury biscuits. Purchase a can of Pillsbury original biscuits, 20 frozen cooked meatballs (or turkey meatballs), and raisins.

1. We preheated the oven to manufacturer's directions. Then we sprayed a large cookie sheet with cooking spray. (You can line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil before applying the cooking spray for easy clean up).

2. Separated the dough into ten biscuits. Then we separated each biscuit into two layers. Wrap a biscuit piece around each meatball. Line on the cookie sheet and add raisins for eyes. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

3. We baked the meatball critters about ten minutes until golden brown.

4. Be creative decorating the meatball bugs. If the raisins fall off during cooking you can use tooth picks (watch little kids when serving) and garnish them with olives for eyes and mouth. In a small bowl, mix ketchup and mustard. Serve crawlers with ketchup mixture and cheese dip.

We highly recommend the easy Halloween recipes found at:

Nutter Butter Ghost Cookies

To make these yummy ghosts purchase Nutter Butter brand peanut better cookies, a bag of white chocolate chips, and a small bag of semi sweet chocolate chips or mini M&M's. This works best if you have someone to help. One can dip and the other can do the eyes.

1. We lined cookie sheets with aluminum foil, then sprayed them lightly with cooking spray.

2. Pour about one third of the bag of white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Very slowly heat the white chocolate chips. Beware: it is very important not to overcook the chocolate. Heat the chocolate in the microwave on High for ten seconds, then stir. Heat the chocolate for another ten seconds then stir until the chocolate is smooth.

3. Dip one cookie at a time into the melted smooth chocolate until the cookies are completely white.

4. Lay the dipped cookie on the paper.

5. Put two chocolate chips or two mini M&M's on the cookie to look like eyes before the chocolate hardens. Note: Since the chocolate hardens in a few minutes, start the process over again once the chocolate is thick and hard to spread on the cookies.

6. Let the candy covered cookies harden. Remove from paper and cover tightly until you are ready to serve them.

Jersey Bites Zombies and Cats

These Halloween treats are found on the Jersey Bites web site using General Mills cereal.

1. Melt butter in sauce pan, add marshmallows and stir constantly until melted. Add cereal. Stir to coat with sticky, gooey mixture and remove from heat for ten minutes.

2. With hands sprayed in Pam or buttered, roll mixture into two-inch balls. Let them rest to set up.

3. When balls are hardened, melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler. Add green food coloring until you reach the desired Shrek-like consistency.
4. Either dip balls or spread with spatula on to balls. While still wet apply sprinkles, eyes, nose and mouth.

To see the list of ingredients and directions for making cats click here to visit the Jersey Bites web site.

Are you making fun Halloween foods or treats with the children this week?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Decorations for Nannies and Au Pairs

Halloween Garland

It is easy to make Halloween garland to decorate a playroom. We used typical 8-1/2 by 11 inch construction paper. For the ghost we used white paper, for the pumpkin we used orange paper, and you can use black paper for a bat or witch's hat if you like.

1. First we placed the paper lengthwise on a table and folded the paper equally in half horizontally. Then we cut the paper into a long rectangles.

2. Next we folded the paper into even sections accordian-style. We folded it into four sections (depending on the size of paper you might fold it into three to eight equal sections).

3. If you care for young children simply trace a circle for the pumpin on orange paper and a ghost on the white paper for the children to cut out using safety scissors. Older children can do it themselves. You can always trace a bat template or witch's hat onto black paper for those designs.

4. Make sure that the edges are straight and overlap a little on each folded side of paper in order to form the chain.

5. Have the children cut out the chain or if they are too young, you can cut out the chain for them.

6. Allow the children to decorate the ghosts and pumpkins. We only used markers above but you can use glitter, google eyes, yarn, scraps of fabric, or paint to decorate the paper chains as well.

7. Cut as many chains as you need and tape or glue them together to form a long garland for display. We interchanged the ghosts and pumpkins until we covered the playroom wall.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Children's Halloweeen Books

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs
The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin
By Joe Troiano

I love books that come with a CD and so do children. Spookley the square pumpkin is different. He delivers a special message of tolerance and self-acceptance that's just right for Halloween and every day of the year. A story about how good being different can be. And the imaginative end -- a patch filled with all sorts of oddly shaped and colorful pumpkins -- will thoroughly delight kids!

By Jerry Seinfled

In his first picture book, comedian Jerry Seinfeld captures on the page his hilarious views on Halloween, from Superman costumes that look like pajamas to the agony of getting bad trick-or-treat candy. Seinfeld's tale resonates with vivid experiences of a night every kid loves. I think all nannies will love this book.

Too Many Pumpkins
By Linda White

Because she had to eat too many pumpkins when she was a child and money was scarce, Rebecca Estelle grew up hating them. As an adult, she never ate or planted them. One fall, a big surprise, too many pumpkins in her own garden, made her change her mind.

Celebrate Halloween with Pumpkins, Costumes, and Candy
By Deborah Heiligman

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Halloween is part of National Geographic's Holidays Around the World series of nonfiction books. The book uses color photographs of children celebrating fall and Halloween in several different countries to illustrate the story of Halloween, its history and celebration. An afterword provides directions for a Halloween game, information about The Day of the Dead, a recipe for a Spooky Graveyard cake, a glossary, a map showing where the photographs were taken, a one-page essay by scholar Jack Santino about Halloween, and recommended books and web sites for readers eager to learn more about Halloween.

Stop by next week for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

Friday, October 23, 2009

INA is Right to Speak Out Against Dante's Inferno

"Bad Nanny" is Bad Image for Nannies

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter supports the International Nanny Association (INA) for speaking out against the new violent video game, Dante's Inferno which features a baby killing achievement, or trophy, called "Bad Nanny." The "Bad Nanny" achievement requires gamers to kill 1,000 un-baptized children.

The INA said:
"INA feels this video game component of Dante's Inferno was created out of poor taste and bad judgment. INA is opposed to video games that promote and encourage players to "kill" babies, even in fantasy play. It is our opinion that this type of play may promote violence towards children. The name of the trophy or achievement, "Bad Nanny," is offensive to our association in that we strive to promote and educate the public regarding the selfless work nannies do to support families by providing quality in-home childcare."

After speaking out against this violent game some authors disagree with the INA saying the babies are clearly demonic creatures in the game.

But, that argument still does not address the fact that the video game is violent and may have a negative influence on players.

It is obvious why the non-profit childcare organization that works to encourage the professionalism of nannies cannot support such a violent video game.

Despite the dozens of authors who write against the INA for speaking out, there are hundreds more articles and clinical studies proving the adverse effect violent video games on children. Both violence in the media and video games are blamed for many problems in raising children today. There is no doubt that much media has a negative influence on children.

For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports:
"Exposure to violence in media, including television, movies, music, and video games, represents a significant risk to the health of children and adolescents. Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed. Pediatricians should assess their patients' level of media exposure and intervene on media-related health risks. Pediatricians and other child health care providers can advocate for a safer media environment for children by encouraging media literacy, more thoughtful and proactive use of media by children and their parents, more responsible portrayal of violence by media producers, and more useful and effective media ratings."

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports, "Psychological research confirms that violent video games can increase children's aggression, but that parents moderate the negative effects."

The APA reports:
"Fifty years' of research on violent television and movies has shown that there are several negative effects of watching such fare (click here to see article). Because video games are a newer medium, there is less research on them than there is on TV and movies.

However, studies by psychologists...indicate it is likely that violent video games may have even stronger effects on children's aggression because (1) the games are highly engaging and interactive, (2) the games reward violent behavior, and because (3) children repeat these behaviors over and over as they play (Gentile & Anderson, 2003). Psychologists know that each of these help learning - active involvement improves learning, rewards increase learning, and repeating something over and over increases learning.

Drs. Anderson and Gentile's research shows that children are spending increasing amounts of time playing video games - 13 hours per week for boys, on average, and 5 hours per week for girls. A 2001 content analyses by the research organization Children Now shows that a majority of video games include violence, about half of which would result in serious injuries or death in the 'real' world. Children often say their favorite video games are violent. What is the result of all this video game mayhem?

Dr. Anderson and colleagues have shown that playing a lot of violent video games is related to having more aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). Furthermore, playing violent games is also related to children being less willing to be caring and helpful towards their peers. Importantly, research has shown that these effects happen just as much for non-aggressive children as they do for children who already have aggressive tendencies (Anderson et al., under review; Gentile et al., 2004).

Parents have an important role to play. Psychologists have found that when parents limit the amount of time as well as the types of games their children play, children are less likely to show aggressive behaviors (Anderson et al., under review; Gentile et al., 2004).

Other research suggests that active parental involvement in children's media usage-including discussing the inappropriateness of violent solutions to real life conflicts, reducing time spent on violent media, and generating alternative nonviolent solutions to problems-all can reduce the impact of media violence on children and youth (Anderson et al., 2003)."

The National Institute on Media on the Family lists that some of the negatives of violent video games include:
  • Practicing violent acts may contribute more to aggressive behavior than passive television watching.

  • Studies do find a relationship between violent television watching and behavior.

  • Women are often portrayed as weaker characters that are helpless or sexually provocative.

  • Game environments are often based on plots of violence, aggression and gender bias.

  • Many games only offer an arena of weapons, killings, kicking, stabbing and shooting.

  • Playing violent video games may be related to aggressive behavior (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004).

  • Questions have been raised about early exposure to violent video games.

  • Games can confuse reality and fantasy.

  • In many violent games, players must become more violent to win.

  • In "1st person" violent video games the player may be more affected because he or she controls the game and experiences the action through the eyes of his or her character.

  • Academic achievement may be negatively related to over-all time spent playing video games. (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004)

Some other organizations that should support the INA include:

1.Center for Media Literacy, (CML). The CML is a not-for-profit organization to inspire independent thinking and foster critical analysis of the powerful influence of the media.

2. The Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to understanding and responding to the effects of media on the physical, mental, and social health of children through research, production, and education.

American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 pediatricians committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.

4. National Institute on Media on the Family says, "more and more kids are shaped by a media culture that promotes more, easy, fast, fun, violence and disrespect." Since 1996, the National Institute on Media and the Family has worked tirelessly to help parents and communities “watch what our kids watch.” The National Institute on Media and the Family is the world's leading and most respected research-based organization on the positive and harmful effects of media on children and youth.

If you work as a nanny do you think that violence in the media effects children?

Age Appropriate Halloween DVD's for Nannies and Au Pairs

Little tots are scared of the dark, haunted houses, and scary movies on Halloween. But, you can view fun Halloween movies with little kids too. Some great classic Halloween movies for little kids include: It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Barney's Halloween Party, and Arthur's Scary Stories. We also found two NEW Halloween DVDs to share with the little ones in a nanny's or au pair's charge.

Shaun the Sheep™: Little Sheep of HorrorsFrom Lionsgate And HIT Entertainment
Tiptoe along with Shaun the Sheep™ and his fellow flock as they creep, sneak and behave like sheep in a collection of kooky and spooky episodes when the all-new Shaun the Sheep: Little Sheep of Horrors, just in time for Halloween.

Join Shaun as he leads his fearless flock through six adventures that mix the spooky, the kooky, and the just plain funny. A troublesome tractor, freaky farm noises, and sleepwalking sheep are only a few of the weird and wonderful surprises waiting for Shaun and his barnyard pals as they creep, sneak and make mayhem in this laugh-filled collection.

"Little Sheep of Horrors" - Intrigued by a horror film on TV, Timmy wanders into the Farmer's House, and Shaun's rescue mission wreaks panic.

"Abracadabra" - When the Farmer decides to throw out his magic set, Shaun decides to put on a show - but things get out of hand when the flock start disappearing!

"Things That Go Bump" - On a dark and stormy night the flock cannot sleep - Shaun discovers the culprits.

"Heavy Metal Shaun" - The farmer inspects the lawn with a metal detector. When Shaun and Bitzer try it, they discover a metallic threat behind a hedge.

"Troublesome Tractor" - The tractor seems to be ready for the scrap heap and the farmer wishes he could afford to buy a new one. So the sheep overhaul it...

"Sheepwalking" - It is a peaceful night at the farm, until Shaun starts to walk in his sleep. The Flock cannot resist their natural instinct to follow, and chaos soon ensues.

· Sheep-Shearing Game
· Whack-A-Pig Game

Hit Favorites: Trick or Treat Tales
Boys and ghouls - gather ‘round for not-so-spooky tales of adventure, learning and friendship with your favorite preschool pals Thomas & Friends™, Barney™, Bob the Builder™, Angelina Ballerina™, Fifi and the Flowertots™ and Fireman Sam™.
The thrills start with Thomas & Friends™ in a ghostly adventure. Bob The Builder™ and Spud put on scary faces to protect a giant pumpkin pie from hungry crows. Barney™ and Fifi learn that there’s more to a costume than just dressing up. Angelina Ballerina™ sneaks into a costume ball and Fireman Sam™ saves a furry friend from a chilling experience. Enjoy the season’s sweetest collection of Trick or Treat Tales!
· Thomas & Friends – "Flour Power!"
· Barney & Friends™ – "Guess Who?"
· Bob the Builder – "Trix’s Pumpkin Pie"
· Fifi and the Flowertots – "Pirate Primrose"
· Angelina Ballerina – "The Costume Ball"

What are your favorite Halloween movies for children?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Fun

You've Been Ghosted!

This is a fun game to play before Halloween. Have children help you fill up a gift bag or small paper lunch bag with Halloween treats. Add anything related to Halloween into the bags including: Halloween candy, little plastic spiders, and/or rubber Halloween characters. Each bag must include a paper ghost, so have your charges cut out the paper ghost to put in each bag.

Attach a letter on the outside of the paper bag or gift bag that reads:

Late last night, we left you a treat.
The tradition is fun, one we hope you'll repeat.

Take the ghost and pin it on your door,
to let others know, need ghosted no more.

Now it's your duty to pass on this surprise,
to two more families, we must advise.

Gather some treats and deliver them soon,
within two nights, under the light of the moon.

Include a ghost with each package you give,
along with this poem for the tradition to live.

Have you ever tried this cute game with the children's friends or neighbors? Do you have other games to play with children before Halloween?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Modernizing Mari Poppinz Nanny Essay Contest!

The Top 20 Nanny Responders Win A One Year Subscription To The ChildCare Education Institute's Online Courses.

Purpose of this contest:

1. To encourage nannies to receive training or continuing education in child development so they will be more knowledgeable and able to provide better care to children.

2. To boost the confidence of nannies who are in the interviewing process. To allow them the opportunity to earn clock hours and thus make them a better qualified candidate for positions.

3. To honor the National Association of Nanny Care's efforts to create the Three Tier Nanny Credential.

Answer the questions and submit your answers BY OCTOBER 28, 2009. Those receiving the subscriptions will be notified by November 1, 2009.

Please click here to enter contest.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free Membership for Parents 6-Month Membership Giveaway!

Today we are starting a free giveaway for parents! is a premier online matchmaker for families seeking nannies and babysitters.

Parents can use to search for nannies and babysitters by zip code, rate, availability, experience, and more!

We all know how hard it is to find reliable, trustworthy care. This site takes all of the guesswork and worry out of finding a care provider. Detailed nanny and babysitter profiles allow families to find the caregiver specific to their needs. Nannies and babysitters use the service to find jobs. In addition, helpful tools are available, including sample interview questions, a sample reference form and a sample contract in the Complete NannyPro Hiring Guide.

Registration for nannies and sitters is free.

Families choose from various membership options including a free membership. With the free membership, families can post jobs and receive job applications.

Once they have found a caregiver they are interested in, they can upgrade their membership for access to caregiver contact information.

In addition to posting jobs, families can search caregivers in their areas, and run four types of best-in-class background checks to screen their potential candidates before hiring a nanny or sitter. makes it safe to hire a caregiver online. The NannyPro staff even pre-screens each new nanny and babysitter before posting their profile to the site. is not only safe, it’s also a very affordable option compared to the high placement fees a nanny agency would charge.

Do you need a full-time nanny or a babysitter for the weekends? Enter to win a membership here!

One lucky winner will win a 6-month membership to ($79.99 value)!

1. Go to and review the site.
2. Then come back here and post what you liked about the site.
This giveaway is open to all U.S. residents and will end on November 1, 2009.

Thanks for entering and good luck!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Envisioning a Three-Tier Nanny Credential

Last week we posted an article explaining that educated caregivers command higher salaries. Click here to read that article.

Yesterday we explained the International Nanny Association Credential Exam and Basic Skills Assessment.

Another organization that believes in the importance of accrediting nannies is the National Association for Nanny Care (NANC).

NANC believes there are three key reasons why nanny credential is important.

First, a comprehensive nanny credential, (an important element of which is an exam), provides parents with a way to accurately and objectively assess an in-home caregiver’s ability to provide quality care. Exams are a tool to help parents make an informed choice when hiring a quality caregiver.

Second, a comprehensive credential raises the overall quality of care throughout the nanny industry. The credential would require all nannies to engage in professional development. Training has been proven time and time again to directly impact the quality of care a provider offers so making training an integral part of the credential will create a better trained, therefore higher quality, nanny workforce.

Third, the NANC three-tier nanny credential offers all levels of nannies a way to distinguish themselves professionally. Studies clearly indicate that childcare providers that acquire a professional credential or accreditation have a stronger sense of professional pride, are more likely to stay in their chosen field, and provide a high level of care.

The goal of the NANC three-tier credential takes a comprehensive approach to applying standards to the nanny industry. It recognizes that there is great diversity in the nanny field and understands that to develop standards that will have a real world application, they must meet nannies where they are on the education, experience, and skill level continuum. The three-tier approach will set minimum standards while providing recognition to those who have achieved a higher level of education, accrued more experience, demonstrated a greater understanding of and ability to apply childcare knowledge, and actively given back to their profession.

For example, if a 19-year-old high school graduate wants to become a credentialed nanny, she would enter into the program at the first-tier. At that level, she only needs one-year of childcare experience. She would then have to complete the other parts of that level, things such as a resource file and a resume. The first-tier nanny needs to attend at least four-hours per year of additional training.

As the nanny continues in her career, she can then enter into the second-tier. At that level, a candidate must have at least 40-hours of training (workshops, conferences, college classes, and so on) and she must have three-years of childcare experience including at least one-year of nanny experience. At this level, more is expected from the nanny, including an expanded resource file, a caregiver philosophy, a developmental plan, and more.

The third-tier nanny is the most elite nanny, with more than five-years of nanny experience and 120 hours of training. This nanny will need to write competencies, expand her resource file further, and mentor nannies who are less experienced. At each level a test will be given geared toward that tier.

The knowledge on the first-tier test will be more basic while at the third-tier the nanny will be expected to have a greater understanding of all the core knowledge areas. Those areas are: child development; discipline and guidance; health, safety and nutrition; learning environments; working with families; and professionalism.

To see a comprehensive listing of the credential click here.

The framework of the credential is based on several successful public and private credential and accreditation programs. Every requirement within the credential is based on generally accepted core knowledge competencies and best practices. NANC will incorporate many different types of requirements (such as, a resource library, resume, and written competencies) into the credential to provide a multifaceted look at the caregiver. This comprehensive approach provides an accurate and objective way to assess the caregiver’s knowledge level, experience, and skill level.

NANC supports the idea of the credential as well as the commitment to educate the public about quality childcare. NANC’s credential has been in development for some time and they are looking for nannies, agencies, and others who share their vision to help move it forward.

NANC is a volunteer organization. NANC is inclusive and encourages all members of the nanny community to participate. Find more information online at:

What are your thoughts on the topic of a three-tiered nanny credential exam?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Credential Exams for Nannies

Last week we started discussing nanny training. Click here to see our article on the topic.

Currently there are two nanny credential exams available for nannies created by the International Nanny Association (INA). There is a challenging INA Nanny Credential Exam and new INA Basic Skills Assessment.

The International Nanny Association (INA) Nanny Credential Exam is a 90 question multiple-choice timed exam that is available to be taken online. The exam is designed to test a nanny's practical knowledge of child care. A proctor must be secured by the exam candidate to administer the exam prior to testing.

The exam addresses:
  • Child Development

  • Family/Provider Communication

  • Child Guidance

  • Multicultural/Diversity Awareness

  • Learning Environment

  • Personal Qualities of a Nanny

  • Safety

  • Management Skills Health

  • Nutrition

  • Professionalism

Because the exam is challenging, it is strongly recommended that anyone sitting for the exam has a minimum of 2000 hours of (the equivalent of one-year, full-time) professional in-home child care experience. Those sitting for the exam must have a current certification in Infant/Child CPR and First Aid and photo identification. There is a charge for taking the exam, with a discount offered to INA members.

A nanny will see her/his exam score as soon as the exam is submitted. Complete information about the nanny's exam results will be sent to INA automatically. All nannies who pass the exam (Score 70% or better) will receive a certificate in the mail. They will also be listed on the INA’s website as an INA Credentialed Nanny. Once a nanny passed the exam, she or he will be considered an INA Credentialed Nanny and will be identified on the INA member list as such.

If a nanny does not receive a passing grade on the exam, an opportunity to retest will be provided, but no sooner than six-months from the date of the first attempt. Candidates must re-apply and pay another testing fee. The exam will not be identical to the first one.

The International Nanny Association has published Beyond Parenting Basics: The International Nanny Association's Guide to In-Home Child Care. This book is an appropriate study guide for those who wish to take the International Nanny Association's Nanny Credential Exam to become an INA Credentialed Nanny and was co-authored by Sara McCormack Hoffman (the author of the INA Credential Exam) and Michelle LaRowe. The see the book, as well as a sample chapter for download, click here.

For less experienced nannies, INA has developed the Basic Skills. The INA Basic Skills Exam is a 40 question timed, multiple-choice exam that is available to be taken online that tests basic child care knowledge.

The Basic Skills Exam addresses:

  • Health

  • Safety

  • Nutrition

  • Professionalism

  • Child Development

The INA Basic Skills Assessment was authored by the following seasoned INA Nanny Members:

  • Myrna Alphonse, MA/NCC

  • Kellie Geres, 1997 INA Nanny of the Year

  • Cortney Gibson, Newborn Care Specialist

  • Becky Kavanagh, 2006 INA Nanny of the Year

  • Michelle LaRowe, 2004 INA Nanny of the Year and parenting author

  • Glenda Propst, 1991 INA Nanny of the Year and founding member of the International Nanny Association

The minimum passing score for the Basic Skills Exam is 70%. Those nannies that score 70% or better will receive a certificate stating that they passed the exam.

To learn more visit the links below.

Basic Skills Exam:
INA Nanny Credential Exam:
Beyond Parenting Basics:
INA Credentialed Nannies:

Did you know there is a credential exam for nannies? If you have passed the INA Nanny Credential Exam how has it affected your nanny career?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Book Review of Elementary Science Activities for All Seasons By Julia Moutran

Weekly Trip to the Library for Au Pairs and Nannies

Every child likes science because it encompasses a variety of topics that cover a wide range of material including weather, animals, plant life, the environment, the human body, outer space, the moon and stars, and energy from solar to volcanic activity. October is a great season in New England for nannies and au pairs to take advantage of fall folliage to teach children about plant life, weather, and the environment. Elementary Science Activites for All Seasons by Julia Moutran is a great resource for nannies and au pairs to use with the children under their charge. This book provides stimulating, ready-to-teach experiments, outdoor activities, puzzles, and arts and crafts projects for children in Kindergarten to sixth grade.  Not only will nannies and au pairs enjoy doing these science activities but they will bond with the children while making the parents proud that their employee is willing to take the initiative to help teach their children while having fun. To try an autumn project from  Elementary Science Activities for All Seasons by Julia Moutran click here.

Stop by next Saturday for another weekly trip to the library for nannies and au pairs. If you have a book you would like reviewed please contact stephanie @

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nanny Training Article Correction Appended

There has been a correction to the Big City column on Tuesday, about the Absolute Best Care Learning Center. Please click here to view the correction.

Absolute Best Care Learning Center is a child care placement agency in Manhattan that offers a state-licensed course for nannies. A state license requires licensed teachers, a curriculum reviewed by an expert in the field, catalog and enrollment agreements that comply with state education laws and regulations. New York State Education Department Logo is mandated to appear on all paperwork and advertising by New York State for any State school.

Absolute Best Care is geared toward standardizing the profession of a nanny with the only NY State approved curriculum and school that will give nannies the education and tools to succeed and flourish in their jobs. Graduating students will receive a Certification, certifying them as nannies for New York.

To learn more about the program simply click on their link here. Please visit the appended The New York Times blog article by clicking here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Being a Governess Abroad

Another Way for Americans to Experience Other Cultures

Yesterday we discussed how Americans can become au pairs abroad. But, only young adults may join the au pair cultural exchange program. Governesses, home school teachers, and teachers (whether young or old) can also teach in-homes overseas. Many American families work and live overseas. The parents may want their children to have an American education. But such an education might not be provided for the children in other countries. Qualified American teachers can provide that education to the American children, while experiencing a new culture overseas.

Being a governess or home school primary teacher overseas is much like home schooling is in the U.S.. Instead of being taught in a traditional school setting, the children are taught from home.

According to Rebecca Kochenderfer, co-founder and senior editor of, the need for some American governesses or home school teachers overseas is, “because some international schools lack what an expatriate family (American family living overseas) is searching for."

Ms. Kochenderfer explains that some international schools may not provide the services found in most U.S. public schools; like quality programs for children with learning disabilities, a good environment for a physical disability, or perhaps the school is not challenging enough.

Ms. Kochenderfer says, "In some of the more remote places of the world there is no international school for American children to attend." She continues, "Whatever the reason may be for finding an alternative to the local school, home schooling can be a very good solution for families living overseas and it can be accomplished with just a little bit of creativity and the right kind of information."

Ms. Kochenderfer explains that when living overseas with corporate benefits that cover tuition costs, many American families are able to hire a teacher, governess, or tutor to do the teaching for them. Many employers are open to using the tuition that would normally be applied towards a very expensive international school (where tuition can run into many thousands of dollars a year per child), and putting it towards home schooling instead.Ms. Kochenderfer suggests,

"Parents should explain their situation to their employer and ask for what may be considered a special consideration. It’s important to remember that most companies have placed a large investment in their international service employees who themselves have committed to three to five-year assignments. Employers choose to be more flexible under those circumstances."

Sample Teacher's Responsibilities:

1) To teach the curriculum while providing close guidance, to document the daily schedule and work completed.

2) To write progress reports for the distance learning school teacher to view, as well as verbal progress reports for the parents.

3) To communicate with the international school twice a semester to compare progress with others in the children’s grade levels.

4) To gather samples of work to be sent in two to three times a semester for his Distance Learning teacher to view.

5) To gather all completed work to be sent in for final evaluation and grading by the distance learning school.

Sample Parent's Responsibilities:

1) To support the teacher by providing all necessary supplies and an environment conducive to learning.

2) To be a liaison between schools and teacher for questions and concerns.

3) To make sure that the classroom is completely organized and supplies are replenished.

4) To read the communication notebook and assist with homework and reading.

5) To pay teacher on time.

6) To have all extracurricular activities organized and documented for the distance learning school.

8) To provide food and lodging for the teacher.

9) Pay taxes and collect all school related receipts for reimbursement (including the teacher’s paychecks).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Working as an Au Pair Abroad

For the Cultural Experience, Not the Money

Yesterday an American nanny asked for information for becoming an au pair in Europe. Au pairs are young adults who want to travel, learn a new language, experience a different culture, and share their own language and culture with a host family from another country. In exchange for room and board and a small stipend the au pair cares for the children and helps with light housekeeping in the host family's home. A nanny is different than an au pair. A nanny has a work agreement, is a legal citizen of the country the caregiver works in, and is paid a salary for their work according to their written contract. An au pair is supposed to be treated as a part of the family to learn about the different culture.

To work as an au pair in Europe caregivers between 18- and 27-years-old must contact an au pair agency in the host country. Every country has specific visa requirements which are constantly changing. To find an au pair agency in the country you would be interested in living as an au pair visit the International Au Pair Association web site at:

According to The Au Pair & Nanny's Guide to Working Abroad by Susan Griftith au pairs in Europe are only allowed to work 25-hours per week over a five-day period, plus up to two evenings of babysitting. In exchange, they are given a separate room, all meals, and pocket money of not less than €60 ($70-$75) a week. Unlike nannies and mother’s helps, au pairs do not sign a contract since the arrangement is an informal one. Au pairs should be treated more like family members than employees. An au pair has much less responsibility for the welfare of the children than does a nanny, and is not normally expected to take sole charge of a young children.

To become an au pair in Europe you must:

1. Be between 18- and 27-years-old. (Holland 18- to 25-years-old and Germany 18- to 25.5-years-old).
2. Have some childcare experience.
3. Speak basic conversational language ability of the target country.
4. Be able to make nine to 12-month commitment. Summer placements of three months, June 15 through September 15, can also be arranged but only for native English speakers and citizens of the European Union.

Tomorrow we will discuss being a governess abroad.

Have you worked as an au pair in Europe? If so, do you have any tips or advice for caregivers considering the exchange program?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How to Become an Au Pair for an American Family

New Article for Au Pairs on
By tesora

Below is part of a new article found on To see the entire article click here.

Step 1
Study English. If you will be living with a family in the United States you will need to be able to understand and speak basic English. Most American families do not speak a second language. Even if the parents do speak another language, it is likely that the children you will be caring for do not. Take a class, listen to English language tapes or CDs, and practice speaking English with your friends. Your English does not need to be perfect. It will improve dramatically during your au pair year.

Step 2
Obtain childcare experience. You will need to document at least 200 hours of childcare experience. The childcare experience cannot be for family members. You can obtain childcare experience by working or volunteering at an orphanage, a preschool, a camp, or some other program that works with children. Make sure to obtain a letter of recommendation from the adults that supervise your work. The agency that you work with also will have forms that they will ask you to have your supervisors complete.

Step 3
Gain childcare experience with younger children. If you want to work with infants then your childcare experience must be experience working with children under the age of two.

Step 4 
Care for children independently. Try to get childcare experience where you are the person responsible for a child without the assistance of another adult. Caring for children with the assistance of other people is easier than being the sole person in charge. Childcare is hard work.

Step 5
Get a drivers license. Americans expect their au pairs to drive the children.

Step 6
Learn how to cook simple meals. Many families expect their au pair to be able to prepare meals for the children. Children tend to like simple foods. You do not need elaborate cooking skills. You should, however, know the basics of cooking and learn how to make a variety of simple foods that children may eat. You also should have a willingness to learn how to cook new foods.

Step 7
Learn basics of caring for children. You should read up on some basics of childcare, such as how to give a bath to a child, how to trim nails, how to discipline a child without hitting or yelling, and how to entertain a child.

Step 8
Apply to an approved au pair agency. Because the program is considered a cultural exchange program it is regulated by the United States Department of State. There are currently 12 agencies approved by the State Department to bring au pairs to the United States: Agent Au Pair, American Cultural Exchange doing business as ("dba") goAuPair, American Institute For Foreign Study dba Au Pair in America, Au Pair Foundation, Au Pair International, AuPairCare, Cultural Care, EurAu Pair Intercultural Child Care, Expert Group International dba Expert Au Pair, InterExchange Au Pair, and USAuPair. If you are dealing with a different agency then you are not dealing with a legitimate agency and your stay in the United States will likely be illegal. The current list of designated au pair sponsors (agencies) can be found on the U.S. Department of State web site at:

Step 9
Finish your secondary school education. You will need to have your studies complete before you leave for the United States. You can apply to be an au pair before your studies are complete, but you cannot leave for the United States until you have earned your degree.

Check out the entire article at

Do you have more tips or advice for young adults hoping to work as au pairs in America?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day for Nannies and Au Pairs

Free Online Resources to Use with Children on Columbus Day.

Today is Columbus Day and many chidren do not have school. But you can have educational fun with children today. Nannies can find free arts and crafts, coloring pages, and lesson plans online. Even if you do not homeschool you can use lesson plans fron homeschooling web sites or sites with lesson plans. For example, check out

Also visit:

More Columbus Day lesson plans are available for free at:

Print out arts and craft activities from

For a selection of free Columbus Day printables check out the web site On this web site, you will find printable word searches, word scrambles, a crossword, and Columbus Day journal and activity pages.

Go to for some more free coloring pages for Columbus Day.

Check out you will find more Columbus Day coloring pages. .

We recommend visiting for two coloring pages of Christopher Columbus.

What free resources do you use with children on Columbus Day? What are you doing with children today?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Columbus Day Children's Books for Nannies and Au Pairs

Weekly Trip to the Library

You Wouldn't Want to Sail With Christopher Columbus!
By Fiona McDonald

This fun, interactive series that includes young readers in making them a part of the story. Readers will become the main character and can revel in the gory, dark, horrific side of life throughout important moments in history. Humorous "Handy Hints" that relate directly to the text are provided on each spread.

You (the reader) are a young boy living in a coastal village in Spain during the late 15th century. It's your dream to become an explorer, and you jump at the chance to join Christopher Columbus on his voyage to find a new route to Asia. Learn what tools are used for navigation, what life is like on a 15th-century sailing ship, and how Columbus accidentally finds the West Indies. After reading this book there will be no doubt in your mind that these are uncharted waters you'd rather not cross.

How We Learned the Earth Was Round
By Patricia Lauber

This book explains various changes beliefs about the shape of the earth, from the flat earth theories of the ancients to the round earth theories which were proven true by the voyages of Columbus and Magellan. The author describes the reasoning that led the early Greeks to come to the cnclusion that the earth is a sphere. Children are taught how to recreate the same logic.

The Ships of Christopher Columbus: Santa Maira, Nina, Pinta
By Xavier Pastor

The book covers lots of details about the ships that carried Christopher Columbus to the New World - the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

Stop by again next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Higher Education Commands Higher Nanny Wages

Nanny Training
By Anne Merchant, Author The Child Care Textbook and of Teacher’s College for Professional Development

We have heard about a new nanny training program this week (see last two posts). We agree that further education is a win-win scenario for childcare providers, parents, and children.

Research confirms what we all intuitively understand: that superior training and education results in nannies that provide superior childcare.

It is estimated that in 12 million households both parents work full-time. This fact has caused a shortage of qualified early childhood caregivers.

Research confirms that the education level achieved by a caregiver has a direct and positive impact on America's future economic strength. A high level of education and training is what differentiates a professional nanny from a long-term, full-time babysitter.

The highly educated nanny is rewarded by commanding a higher wage and better benefits. The children benefit by blossoming in a safe and secure environment. Parents benefit from a well-educated nanny because they have peace-of-mind and pleasure as their children prosper from proper care. A highly trained and educated nanny is a win-win-win scenario.

Sub-standard childcare seems to have become the norm rather than the exception. Research shows that custodial care (care that merely keeps children safe, warm, and fed) is sub-standard care that does not consistently include planned age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate social, physical, cognitive, and psychological care.

The demands of career has forced many parents to accept the easiest, not the best, choice of caregiver. The low pay at daycare centers leads to frequent turnover. Au pairs are often hired sight unseen and are often lack childcare training or experience. Many nannies are hired from advertisements online or in newspapers without proper screening, leading to sub-standard childcare.

Sub-standard childcare is not limited to the economically disadvantaged. Many children born into wealthy families do not succeed as well as children from underprivileged families. Sub-standard care is directly related to the lack of caregiver education. Early childhood education is cited in all recent research as being an essential factor in quality child care.

For example, the 1994 Carnegie Task Force report, Starting Points: Meeting the Needs of our Youngest Children states, "Research shows that [childcare] training is an effective strategy for improving quality, particularly if training initiatives are linked to career development, with trainees receiving credit towards associate and bachelors degrees."
Therefore, it is in the best interest of nannies to be able to provide quality care by continually growing personally and professionally by attending nanny training and early childhood education courses and programs.

Children cared for by educated caregivers have better language skills, score higher in school readiness tests, have better social skills, fewer behavioral problems, and are more likely to become literate, gainfully employed, and enrolled in college, (Reynolds, Temple, Robertson, and Mann).

Gone are the days when experts believed that all infants and toddlers needed was someone to nurture them. As important as it is to cuddle and love children, if children are to grow to their full potential they must also receive developmentally appropriate cognitive, social, physical, and emotional stimulation.

There are nanny training programs in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, India and other countries. Generally nanny training programs include courses about child development, nutrition, health and safety, discipline, and supervised time working with children. There are a large number of certificate, associate, and bachelor degree courses in early childhood education in county colleges, vocational schools, and private colleges throughout the United States. There are also graduate programs in child development available for nannies who have already earned their bachelor degree.

Ask nanny training and early childhood education programs the same questions:
1. What specific courses does the nanny program curriculum include?
2. Is the program accredited by a federally approved accrediting body?
3. What are the costs?
4. What are the admission requirements?
5. Are credits transferable to another school or program?

If you work as a nanny have you acquired a higher education degree? What are your thoughts on the topic?

Nanny Training Article Made it to NBC

Article about Nanny Training made it to NBC. Click here to see the article.

Call it babysitter boot camp.Nannies are often the first line of defense when it comes to child rearing for working families. But they often lack any professional child-care training.

“My biggest concern was really trusting the person I leave at home with my child all day,” said Holly Shapiro, a working mom who uses Absolute Best Care in Midtown, a nanny-placement agency that starting October 26, will start offering what they call “Nanny school.”

“Up until now, a nanny walks into a house, [they] play it by ear,” said Douglas Kozinn, owner of Absolute Best. “There is no training.”

Click here to see rest of the article.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wall St Journal: The Latest Status Symbol? Nanny-Management Degrees

The Wall Street Journal posted the following article on their blog:

Employing a full-time babysitter or nanny is in itself something of a high-end child-care option. But every high-end option has a high-high-end option—or several—and the in-home care of children is no exception.

My Journal colleague Robert Frank, of the Wealth Report blog, wrote on Friday about a New York nanny agency that’s offering a state-certified course in nanny management. The course, run by the Absolute Best Care Learning Center in partnership with the household-management school Starkey International, costs $4,000 for 50 hours of instruction in such areas as “nanny-management theory, which teaches a nanny to study a household’s various habits and routines and organize childcare ‘around the overall environment,’ ” and “ ‘hands-on care,’ like CPR and how to care for a newborn or a toddler,” Robert wrote.

While $4,000 may sound like a lot for a child-care worker or an employer to shell out, especially in the current economy, Absolute Best Care noted in a press release I received that top nannying jobs can pay more than $60,000 a year.

In his Friday piece, Robert linked to an MSNBC article about some sought-after categories of child care workers, such as Tibetan nannies, who might well draw that kind of salary. And ever-popular are nannies and au pairs from Britain and elsewhere in Western Europe, as the Journal’s S. Mitra Kalita reported. Yet another training outfit, the British Nanny Academy of Los Angeles, caters to parents seeking that Poppins-esque touch.

Also hailing from Britain, though now based in New York, is Annabelle Corke, co-founder with the Australian Deborah Crisford of a nanny recruitment service called Heyday. Ms. Corke told me Monday that the three-year-old Heyday specializes in uniting discerning parents with the “educated big-sister type” of child-care worker. After an in-home consultation with the parents, Heyday taps its network of largely college-educated potential nannies in an effort to make an effective match, Ms. Corke said.

The words and photos on the Heyday Web site, though, did make me wonder if any of those educated big sisters might happen to resemble my African-American children. Ms. Corke said that “a lot” of the nannies and families with whom Heyday works are white, but she said the company uses no racial criteria. “The main thing is intelligence,” she said. “I don’t care what color you are as long as you have that emotional intelligence and savvy.”

Ms. Corke said Heyday is a relative bargain at $2,000 to $3,000 per successful placement, compared with $6,000 or so at some competitors. More power to them all, I say, but I’m glad that my family was able to find a wonderful full-time sitter 6½ years ago for nothing more than the cost of a copy of a local weekly. Though she may seem to fit the profile of an “ordinary” nanny, as a woman in her 50s from Jamaica, she’s been truly extraordinary for us—warm yet firm with the children, completely reliable and well equipped to shift into more of a household-manager role as both kids are now in school full-time.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Columbus Day Party

At Nannypalooza this past weekend Patty Sachs, author of Pick a Party The Big Book of Party Themes and Occasions included signed copies of her book in the welcome bags for conference attendees.

Monday October 12, 2009 is Columbus Day and there is still time to coordinate a quick Columbus Day party for your charges. Here are ideas shared by Patty Sachs from her book Pick a Party.

If you do not have enough time to send invitations simply send email invites and call friends to schedule the party for Monday.


  • Write the party details on a map of the original ocean journey.

  • Format the party details as a Help Wanted ad, reading :Wanted! Crew members for a four-month ocean cruise leaving Spain August 3 (destination to be announced). Choice of three ships, great meals, adventure, and robust exercise. Contact C. Columbus, c/o Isabella, Queen of Spain.

  • Send invitations in clear envelopes filled with bits of sand and shells.

  • Ready to sail the ocean blue

  • Authentic period costume

  • Pirate costumes

  • Maps, drawings of ships, and sailing items

  • Travel posters, with flags marking the places passed on the voyage

  • Bare plank-board picnic tables, to resemble a shipboard mess hall

  • Travel posters

  • Anchors, life preservers, netting, deck chairs

  • Play Columbus' Cruise trivia game.

  • Match countries to such cultural contributions as foods, animals, and traditions. For example, tomatoes were an American contribution to Europe.

  • Arts and Crafts with a nautical theme.

  • Watch movies of Columbus' voyage (or simply have the movies running on the VCR as background noise).

  • Provided Columbus or Isabella costumes and take pictures of the guests modeling the costumes. (If nothing else try to find some appropriate hats and take head shots).

  • Multinational menu: foods from Spain, Italy, Africa, and Asia
  • Foods and beverages labeled with origins of ingredients
  • Instant photos of guests in Columbus or Isabella costumes
  • Recipes of menu items served
  • Gift packs of LifeSavers candy, gold fish crackers, captain hats, and so on.
Tell us what fun things do you with children on Columbus Day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Method and Discipline to Motivate Children

Last week we quoted Dorothy Rich, author of MegaSkills about motivating children to succeed in school and beyond. Today we list some activities the author suggests using to teach children about time and to help them listen better.

The author explains that before children do things, children tend to ask two questions over and over:
1. How long will it take?
2. What was that I was supposed to do, again?

The following activities for young children can help answer these questions.

TIME ME (Ages 4 to 6)

This activity will help children better understand the difference between "a few seconds" and "a few minutes." You will need a clock or watch with a second hand.

Ask the child to watch the second hand for five seconds. Together count off the seconds. Put this into action, Time it again and see how many times the child can clap in five seconds. Now have the child watch the clock for one minute. Then time it again and see how fare you can both clap in one minute. Together read a book for five minutes. Time yourselves. How many pages did you read? Hold your breath for five seconds. Le the child time you. Then trade places. Time yourselves as you both say the alphabet aloud. Together time a traffic light as you stand at a street corner. Time two television commercials. How long does it take each one?

As you see, there are many ways to help children get a feel for time. Even as adults we often have trouble knowing how long thirty seconds is. A better sens of time helps us anticipate how much we can accomplish in a day.

TELL ME (Ages 4 to 9)

Teachers in the early grades tell us that children have trouble listening. Perhaps it's because they have been bombarded by so much coming at them all at once on television. Here is an easy activity that can help cut through the multimedia, noisy environment. For this activity all you need are listening ears.

Think of a real job at home that the child can do. It might be setting a table, taking out the garbage, bringing in the newspaper, hanging up clothes, Think of three or four instructions for the job. Ask the child to listen carefully as you say them. For example, "Take out four forks, four knives, and four spoons. Put these on the table in four place settings. Put the fork on the left, the knife and spoon on the right."

Let the child give you instructions to follow. They can be as easy or as complicated as you and the child want. In this way, you individualize this activity to suit the child.

By adding pencil and paper, you can turn this into a "write and to" activity. Write down instructions instead of talking about them. Have the child write a set of directions for you to follow.

Hide something and give instructions on how to find it. For example, "Take two steps forward, turn right, take three steps back." Trade places and let your child hide something for you to find. As a special treat, organize an outdoor treasure hunt. Prepare a short list of items, such as a small stone, a branch, a green or red leaf. Give youngsters a paper bag for the collection. Turn this into a game by timing the minutes it takes to find the objects. Use this when you go shopping. At the story, the child can help you find the family's grocery items.

Be sure to visit Dorothy Rich's great web site with great books and resources for working with children by clicking here.

Do you have trouble getting your charges to listen to directions or get chores or school work accomplished in a timely manner?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Book Review of Little Lemon

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Little Lemon (Activities for Developing Motivation and Memory Skills)
By Betsy B. Lee

Since we have been discussing motivating children all week it makes sense to recommend a great children's book called Little Lemon (Activities for Developing Motivation and Memory Skills)to help motivate children.

Little Lemon (Activities for Developing Motivation and Memory Skills)is more than just a book. Little Lemon (Activities for Developing Motivation and Memory Skills)has lesson plans, music, a fictional story, discussion questions, activities and a lemon puppet to purchase from the publisher.

A lemon puppet chooses to "make lemonade" when he has the chore of helping a discouraged child who has poor memory skills. The author talks about the secrets for doing better in school. The secrets are presented by adorable puppets, an entertaining story, music, and lesson plans. The lessons help with learning left from right, improving vocabulary, correcting reversals, and more. The secrets for doing better in school can be applied to any subject. This is very appealing to children.

The author's web site, Learning Abilities Books, has more lesson plans and other information.

Be sure to stop by again next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The First Step is the Hardest

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Motivate Children to Try Something New

To continue the discussion of motivating children, Dorothy Rich, author of MegaSkills says that taking a first step, the first time doing something is the hardest.

She says, "There is a method and discipline in motivation that can be built from tiny, beginning steps." She recommends the activity below to "encourage children and imbue them with the staying power it takes to remain motivated."


The old Chinese saying is true: "The longest journey starts with a single step." The first step in doing something can be the hardest.

We need to get children used to taking those all-important first steps. They need to recognize a first step. One way is to tell them about our own first steps: the first date, the first job. If you can remember it, describe your own first day in school, or any first you feel you can tell children about. You need not have been a first-time success. It may be even better if you weren't. The point is that you tried and then tried again.

Ask children to tell you about any first times they remember. I might be the first day of school, the first time they rode a bike, the first time they tried to ride a bike or swim in a pool.

First steps are hard. We tend to say, "Aw, come on, that's easy," but it's not.

Our goal in helping to motivate children is to help them gain the optimism and the courage to take more first steps. That is the lesson we have to teach, and one way to teach it is by sharing our experiences.

Be sure to visit Dorothy Rich's great web site with great books and resources for working with children by clicking here.

How have you helped ease a child who was scared to try something new for the first time?