How Do You Teach the Kids in Your Care?
By Become a Nanny
Whether a nanny focuses on the children’s education formally or informally, each day she is teaching the children in her care about themselves and the world around them.
While how involved a nanny is with a child’s formal education will vary based on several factors, such as the child’s age, the parent’s desire, and even the nanny’s background, nannies in many ways, outside of the parents, serve as a child’s first teacher.
As you embrace your role as nanny, consider the ways you can impart wisdom and knowledge to the children in your care.
1. Incorporate lesson plans. Many nannies, especially those with a preschool or early childhood education background enjoy creating and implementing lesson plans with the children in their care. Some nanny employers may purchase curriculum for their nannies to use, and others create lesson plans based around the child’s interest and skill levels using resources that are available for free on the Internet. For governesses and other nannies who are educationally qualified to formally teach children, homeschooling may be part of their duties and responsibilities, and formal lesson plans may be required. Depending on the temperament of the child and the stress placed on the nanny’s role as formal educator, lesson plans may be utilized.
2. Take advantage of natural learning moments. When caring for children, there are always natural teaching opportunities that arise. Labeling things and items with descriptive terms, like "Look at that small blue bird" can promote language development and vocabulary building. While making lunch, try cutting cheese slices into various shapes and counting out blueberries to help with shape identification and counting. Explaining how things work, at an age appropriate level, can help children learn and understand the world around them. Simple commentary like "Look, when I mix blue paint and yellow paint it turns the paint green" can provide valuable insight into our world. Most nannies strive to take advantage of the natural learning moments that are presented each day. Doing so provides a no pressure way for children to learn about and discover new things.
3. Have theme weeks. Theme weeks provide children with an opportunity to explore a segment of their world. For a farm theme week, for example, children could be encouraged to play with farm toys and animals, take a trip to a farm, read books about the farm, cut strips of yellow paper to make hay and make their own ice cream from fresh cow’s milk. With theme weeks, nannies can focus on something that really interests the children and provide age-appropriate opportunities for the child to experience that topic with all of his senses. For families with different aged children, theme works can be a viable style for teaching because different activities can be used for different skill and age levels.
4. Teach as you go. Many nannies follow the lead of the children and whatever the child’s interest is becomes the educational focus. If the child shows an interest in cars, the nanny may look for opportunities to learn about cars to factor into the child’s day. If the child is interested in chocolate chip cookies, the nanny and child may prepare a simple recipe and bake cookies together. Teaching as you go allows for a children-led exploration of the world.
Regardless of the teaching style a nanny uses, for young children, it should be child driven and play focused. Structured education should also be balanced with opportunities for outside play, creative play and arts and crafts, as well as time for rest and time to play with other children. "A child’s play is his work," said famous German educator Friedrich Froebel. Most of today’s nannies would agree.