Teaching Your Child About Peer Pressure

We’re surrounded by peer pressure every day in a variety of different ways, from the unknown forces of the media to our friends and family. Although a parent can’t erase peer pressure from her child’s life, she can give her the tools she needs to stay strong in the face of it and make decisions based on what’s best for her. Here are a few tools to help you teach your child about peer pressure.

Talk to your child about the influences of the media. Every time you turn on the TV, pick up a magazine, read a billboard, go on Facebook or Twitter, or surf the web there are people trying to get you to take the action they want you to take or think the way they want you to think. Many people don’t recognize these forces as peer pressure because they’ve become such an engrained part of our lives; however, the media greatly influences our ideas and choices. Talking with children about these influences can help kids see things with a critical mind and allow them to make smarter, more objective decisions.

Be a good role model. If your child sees you rush out to buy the latest fashion, stand in line for hours to land the latest gadget, or try the latest fad diet because everyone else on the block is singing its praises, she’s much more likely to fall prey to the same peer influences. Let your child see you making decisions based on what’s best for you and the situation, even when it’s not necessarily the popular choice.

Talk to your child about the people and things that influence him. Conversation is one of the most powerful tools you have in helping your child withstand peer pressure. Talk with your child about what choices his friends are making, the choices he’s facing, the factors that influence him, and how he makes decisions about what to do and what not to do. Giving him a safe place to explore his thoughts and feelings will help him make well thought out decisions. It will also allow him to make up his mind about what to do in a tough situation before he’s actually in the tough situation. Working through his choices ahead of time gives him the confidence to act in accordance with his beliefs and values.

Involve your child in a community that supports your values. Although you can’t insulate your child from peer pressure, you can stack the deck in your favor by surrounding your child with people that can help her make good choices. Your local church, Boys and Girls Club, Boy and Girl Scouts, and community programs are all great places to find like-minded families. Your child will still be pressured to do things that are not in her best interest, but it’s a lot easier to say no when others are saying no alongside you.

Help your child develop a strong sense of self. Children with high self-esteem and a positive self-image have a much easier time resisting peer pressure. Those things don’t develop overnight, so plant the seeds of self-esteem and self-image when your child is young and cultivate them as your child grows.

Help your child avoid troublesome situations. Sometimes peer pressure can be avoided simply by avoiding a certain person or taking control of a situation. If your child’s classmate is known for rallying friends to pick on younger kids, stop meeting him and his mom at the local park. Instead, foster a friendship between your child and a kinder classmate. If your child’s new neighbor friend spends hours watching R rated movies while he’s home alone afterschool, insist they play at your house where you can monitor their TV choices. If you’re worried about your daughter being out late with her older boyfriend, impose an early curfew but allow the boyfriend to stay and visit.

Be supportive. Making good choices in the face of peer pressure is tough. It can be a very emotional struggle for many kids. Be the person your child can confide in, can count on, and can ask for advice.

Don’t expect perfection. Your child will make mistakes. She will hang out with the wrong people. She will make bad choices. How you react when those things happen will have a big impact on how she handles similar situations in the future. Your goal is to help her learn from her mistakes, help her learn how to make a better choice next time, and help her correct her course when she realizes that she’s going in the wrong direction.

A parent can’t protect her child from peer pressure, but she can help her make decisions based on what’s best for her and not simply on what everyone else is doing.

Discovering Your Child’s Currency and Using It to Create Positive Change

Influencing a child to make the right choices regarding his behavior can be a challenge, especially when the child in question is a particularly strong-willed one. Often, the most effective method of bringing about change is determining a child’s individual currency and using it as an incentive to motivate him to make the right choices.

What is Currency?

While your first thought at the word “currency” may be along the lines of allowances and kids’ finances, currency as a behavioral concept actually has nothing to do with money in most cases. Each child has their own form of currency, whether it’s a hobby, activity or favorite toy. The desire to engage in these activities or play with a favorite toy can be very strong, making it a useful tool when he’s misbehaving. The things that he wants and desires the most are seen as his particular currency.

How Do I Discover His Currency?

No one knows your child like you do. This intimate knowledge of his fears, joys and favorite things makes you one of the only people who can reliably discover his currency. Younger children may value sweet snacks or a favorite television show greatly, while older ones may focus more strongly on socialization and participation in a favorite activity. Paying close attention to your child will help you quickly uncover what it is that motivates him, which is the first step to bringing about positive change in his behavior or attitude using a currency system.

How Do I Use My Child’s Currency?

If your child’s currency is a video game, for instance, you may find that his behavior is more quickly and thoroughly modified when the amount of time he can spend playing that game is jeopardized. Similarly, knowing that a good performance could help him gain more time to spend playing could provide him with the incentive he needs to behave better. A system of rewards and consequences based around the activity, hobby or outcome that your child desires most can be a very effective way of helping him to understand cause and effect in relation to his own behavior.

Rewards and Consequences

When the ability to play a game, engage in a hobby, or spend time with friends is directly tied to your child’s behavior, it puts him in control. His decisions and the way he chooses to behave effects the outcome of any given situation. Being able to make these decisions on his own and either reap the rewards of making the right choice or suffer the consequences of a poor one not only helps him understand that everything he does has an eventual result, but also satisfies a burgeoning urge to assert his independence.

Intangibles Can Be Currency, Too

Some children are mostly driven by a desire to play their favorite sport, watch a beloved television show, or stalk the opposition in a video game. Others, however, are motivated more by a desire to be praised, acknowledged and shown affection. Making sure that you satisfy this need any time your child behaves in accordance with the guidelines you’ve put in place will allow him to connect making the right choice with receiving that attention. Don’t be hemmed in to thinking that your child’s currency is restricted to physical toys, games or other items.

Be Cautious With Food as Currency

Instilling good dietary habits in your child is one of the most important things you can do for him as a parent. With childhood obesity rates and related health risks skyrocketing, it’s important to think carefully about the way you use food as currency. Children who learn to connect unhealthy snacks with the emotional payoff of a job well done are being sent conflicting messages; on the one hand, they’re taught to avoid unhealthy food items, but then they’re conversely being encouraged to accept these same foods as a reward for good behavior. Associating unhealthy foods with specific feelings and moods during childhood can cause your child to reach for those foods during times of distress as an adult to stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain; emotional dependence on food can have far-reaching implications.

Because no two children are the same, the currency approach to rewards and consequences can help you to tailor disciplinary measures to each individual youngster in your home, rather than taking a less-effective one-size-fits-all approach. Taking the time to uncover your kids’ currency and dedicating yourself to using it as a method of affecting change may not always be easy, but it will help you reverse problem behaviors while rewarding those that you approve of.

10 Things to Do With Kids in Chicago, IL

There’s more than just wind to see and experience in the ‘Windy City’ of Chicago, especially with kids. With Chicago’s trains you can work your way around the city and see great sights like Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.   From the tower Skydeck to beautiful Lake Michigan, there are tons of fun things to do with the entire family in Chicago, Illinois.

  1. Hancock Observatory (Chicago, IL 60611).  Head to the 94th floor in the fastest elevator in the country.  The trip will only take a minute or so and when you look out you will have a 360 degree view of Chicago.  The lines tend to be short or non-existent and it only costs $15 for the trip.  You get an audio tour that will point out special sights so this is a great place to start your trip.  You can spend the rest of your trip finding those places you saw from up above.  While the Willis Tower is more famous, tourists typically prefer to go to the Hancock Observatory instead. 
  2. Willis Tower Skydeck (Chicago, IL 60603).  The Willis Tower skydeck is located on the 103rd floor and you will have the opportunity to stand out in a glass box, which is suspended on the side of the building, and look straight down.  An audio tour is available at no extra cost and will point out points of interest around the city that you can see from the skydeck.  There are shops and exhibits inside the Willis Tower explaining how the building came to be.  This tall building used to be known as the Sears Tower and is a must see if Chicago.  Tickets are required to take the trip to the top. 
  3. The Bean (Chicago, IL 60601).  Technically the name of this sculpture is Cloud Gateway, but in Chicago it’s known as the bean.  Once you see it you will understand why.  The sculpture is shaped like a bean and is mirrored.  This landmark is one of the most visited places in Chicago.  The Bean was even featured in the movie Source Code. Kids and adults alike will enjoy looking at the Bean and how the skyline bends as you walk around the sculpture.  Make sure you go under it as well.
  4. Chicago Greeter (Chicago, IL 60602).  An interesting concept, the Chicago Greeter pairs up savvy Chicagoans with tourists to help them enjoy the city.  The service is completely free!  This tour is 2 to 4 hours long and you will get an ‘insiders’ view of the city.  You need to register at least 10 business days in advance of your visit.
  5. Navy Pier (Chicago, IL 60611).  Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Navy Pier and let the kids have some fun riding on the Ferris wheel.  The shops are kid friendly with everything from toys to souvenirs for sale.  If you are looking for something to eat there are several restaurants on the pier as well.  Time it right and you might see one of the large ships that docks at the port.
  6. Grant Park (Chicago, IL 60601).  An urban oasis, Grant Park is 319 acres of fun in the sun right in the city.  Grant Park is in ‘the loop’ area of downtown Chicago and is near other attractions such as Millennium Park’s Bean sculpture, Buckingham Fountain and the Art Institute of Chicago.  Running along the entire east side of the park is Lake Michigan.  Several large events are held in Grant Park each year.  
  7. The Elevated Train (varies).  The elevated train will take you around the city to various attractions, but the train itself is entertaining to ride too, especially if your kids don’t have much experience riding a train.  Public transportation will lesson your stress with finding suitable parking and is an economical choice.
  8. LEGOLAND Discovery Center (Schaumburg, IL 60173).  If your kids love Legos they will love LEGOLAND!  The center is set up with a Lego factory, a 4D movie theater, test areas and many areas to build with Legos.  Things are always changing so you will have to see it to believe it.
  9. Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, IL 60605).  Home to more than 25,000 fish, dolphins, seals and beluga whales, the Shedd Aquarium has a lot to offer for family entertainment.  The aquarium features tons of interactive exhibits throughout the complex.  There are shows that feature the seals and dolphins that will thrill the kids.  If you have time you can even see a 4D movie.
  10. Chicago Ghost Investigations (Chicago, IL 60610).  Looking for something a little different to do with the family?  Why not go on one of the two daily investigations in downtown Chicago.  Tours leave from the old water tower on Michigan Avenue.  You are accompanied by a seasoned paranormal investigator who will teach you how to use special ghost detecting equipment and teach you a psychic technique that will allow you to communicate with the spirits.

8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Child While You’re at Work

Being away from your child all day long is no easy feat, even for a mom who loves her job and her childcare provider. But just because you’re physically separated doesn’t mean you need to be in the dark with regards to how your child spends the moments of his day. With a little creativity and effort, working moms with a willing caregiver can stay in touch in more ways than you may think.

  1. Leave a love note. Leaving a love note for your caregiver to share with your child during the day is one way to make a low effort, high impact connection with your child. A simple drawing of you two holding hands or a short note reminding her of the fun things you’ll do when you get home can go a long way in fostering a connection with your child while you’re away.
  2. Have a video chat. With technology you can literally have a video phone chat from the palm of your hand. If you’re traveling for business, a video chat would even allow you to sing your child’s favorite lullaby or read his favorite story before it’s time for him to go to sleep.
  3. Text photos. Asking your caregiver to text you a photo or two during the day can help you get a glimpse into what your child is doing and give you something specific to talk about when you return home. If your child made a picture for you, texting a photo of it to you and getting a quick response back will surely bring a smile to both of your faces.
  4. Have a daily call. Set aside a time each day when you check-in with your caregiver and say hello to your child. Since your child’s afternoon naptime is likely to coincide with your lunch break, making a quick call home at the same time each day may be something that you can easily incorporate into your daily schedule.
  5. Meet for lunch. For parents and caregivers who have the luxury, meeting for lunch on occasion can be a super way to stay connected. A small café or even an onsite restaurant at the office can be a great way to have short, but wonderfully meaningful connection.  An added bonus? You get to show your child off to co-workers.
  6. Record yourself reading a book. Do you and your child have a favorite story? Make an audio or video recording of yourself reading the book that he can listen to or watch. Some books even come with micro-recorders that allow you to record yourself reading the story. As your child turns the pages, he gets to hear your voice reciting the story lines.
  7. Leave a video message. Make it part of your morning or evening routine to make a short video recording for your child. Leave it loaded on the laptop or iPad for your child watch.  If you have a smart phone you can simply record the video and text it to your caregiver.
  8. Encourage your caregiver to keep a journal. Provide your caregiver with a journal that she can write in each day. Ask her to keep a journal of the things your child does. When you review the journal you’ll not only feel like you have a solid idea of how your child spent his day, you’ll also have an idea of what you can talk to him about. Your child’s eyes will light up when you ask him about his latest adventure and he’ll likely be thrilled to share details.

For some working moms, the hours can seem more like days when they’re separated from their child, and for others the time simply flies by. While with young children out of sight is often out of mind, setting aside a few minutes each day to make a connection can not only help to foster your parent/child relationship, but can reassure your child that you’re thinking about him even while you’re gone.

4 Types of Nannies Revealed and Discussed

While all nannies are unique, there are four general types of nannies that you may encounter during your nanny search. As you look at different nanny candidates, consider which type of nanny they may be. Doing so may give you a glance into their backgrounds, motives and qualifications for working as a nanny.

1. The Career Nanny. The career nanny is a nanny who is making a career out of working as an in-home child care specialist. A career nanny may or may not have formal nanny training, but generally has some type of educational background or interest in early childhood development. Career nannies tend to have extensive experience working in private homes and are typically passionate about their work. Sometimes a career nanny will develop a niche, like working with multiples, newborns, special needs children or children of divorce. Career nannies may be closely connected to other nannies and be involved in nanny groups, nanny support groups or professional nanny organizations. Many career nannies will have more experience working with babies and young children than their employers. For this reason, if you’re considering a career nanny you’ll want to evaluate if you are open to a parenting partner that will regularly share tips, advice and suggestions.

2. The Transitioned Nanny. The transitioned nanny is a nanny that transitioned to being a nanny from another related profession. Transitioned nannies may include nannies who were first preschool teachers, elementary school teachers, pediatric nurses or family psychologists. Transitioned nannies are likely to have the appropriate skill set for working with young children, but may lack the experience working in an in-home environment. When considering hiring a transition nanny, you’ll want to be clear about your expectations, allow her time to assimilate to working in a private home, and tweak her skill set to work in the in-home environment.

3. The Stepping Stone Nanny. The stepping stone nanny is a nanny that is working as an in-home child care provider until she figures out what she wants to do next. Stepping stone nannies may include nannies who have completed a degree in early childhood education and want to work as a nanny until they find their ideal teaching job or perhaps a high school graduate considering a degree in early childhood education who wants to test the waters of working with young children first. Stepping stone nannies may also include nannies with previous nanny or childcare experience who are looking to utilize their experience while in between jobs.  Stepping stone nannies don’t typically view being a nanny as a career, but rather a stepping stone to doing what they really wish to be doing next. If hiring a stepping stone nanny, you’ll want to be sure your stepping stone nanny will commit to at least one year of employment, or whatever other timeframe you require.

4. The Granny Nanny. The granny nanny does not refer to a nanny’s age, but rather her experience in raising her own children and her desire to help others raise theirs.  Granny nannies may not have any formal childcare training or experience, but instead rely on the experience of raising their own children.  Many granny nannies look for nanny employment after being laid off from a job, out of a desire to leave their current career and pursue something new, or as something to do during their retired years. Since parenting wisdom and styles changes from generation to generation, if you’re considering hiring a granny nanny, you’ll want to be sure she is familiar with current safety recommendations and practices (like putting healthy babies on their backs to sleep).

While not all nannies will perfectly fit into one of these four general types, chances are that you will be able to identify a category that your candidate fits into best. During the hiring process, keep these categories in mind to help you find the right fit for your family.

10 Things to Do With Kids in Washington DC

If you’re looking to give your kids a hands-on history lesson, the nation’s capital is where you want to be.  Kids will enjoy seeing some of the things that they have been learning in school.  There’s something about being able to explore the actual historical sites that will help your kids remember the facts better.  Known for the Smithsonian museums, Washington, DC has a lot to offer in the way of kids’ entertainment.  Check out some of these sites the next time you are in Washington, DC.

  1. National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC 20560).  Tons to see in this museum, they house over 125 million specimens.  Kids will enjoy the Discovery room because it’s a hands-on area where kids can learn and explore.  Another exhibit that is ‘big’ with kids is the life-sized dinosaur skeleton.
  2. National Air and Space Museum (Washington, DC 20560).  If you have a space buff in the family, this is the place to bring him.  This branch of the Smithsonian houses the largest collection of spacecraft and other flight related artifacts in the world.  Take a look inside the Apollo 11 space module or look at Wright’s first airplane suspended from the ceiling.
  3. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Washington, DC 20001).  Watch real money be printed, stacked, and cut here.  Tours are available every 15 minutes.  Take a look at how paper money has changed through the years with exhibits that will show the history of money. 
  4. Lincoln Memorial (Washington, DC 20242).  The memorial is made of white marble and Lincoln is seated and gazing across a long reflection pool toward the Washington monument.  On the other side is the Ulysses S. Grant monument with Grant on his horse and his eyes are at the same level as Lincoln’s eyes.  These three men did a lot for the U.S. and visiting their monuments is definitely something worth doing with the kids while you are in Washington, DC.
  5. National Zoo (Washington, DC 20008).  Visit this 163 acre zoo that houses pandas, bears, lions, giraffes, monkeys and many more.  Admission is free, but there is a cost for parking.  This zoo is very kid friendly with many hands-on experiences available for the kids so that they can get up and personal with these animals.
  6. International Spy Museum (Washington, DC 20004).  Do you think you may be raising the next 007?  Slip into the International Spy museum to learn all about disguises and aliases.  Let the kids go to the Kidspy Zone where they can play games, learn the language of espionage and take part in an actual mission.  The one hour mission is for kids 12 and up and gets pretty involved with decrypting messages, meeting your handler and making a drop.  If you live in the area there are even spies in training camps that your kids can participate in.          
  7. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (Washington, DC 20004).  Make sure to bring your camera with you to this attraction because the kids will love to take pictures with Selena Gomez from Wizards of Waverly Place, Taylor Swift (singer/actress) or Madonna (singer/actress).  There are many other famous people that have been immortalized in wax here.  Read about all of these famous people as you walk through the amazing life- like sculptures.
  8. Paddle-Boating on Tidal Basin (Washington, DC 20024).  Take a paddle-boat ride on the Tidal Basin and let the kids get a little exercise.  You will be able to see the Jefferson Memorial from the water and just get out and enjoy some nature.  It’s a nice change of pace from all the museum type attractions.
  9. Folger Theater (Washington, DC 20003).   To be or not to be… that is the question.  This Shakespearian Theater puts on plays all year round and also offers special exhibits for children. 
  10. Kennedy Center (Washington, DC 20566).  Go on a guided tour of this huge center which hosts many different kinds of performances.  Stage shows, ballet, or sporting events can be seen at this venue almost any day of the week.  If you have an aspiring actor or dancer they may enjoy dreaming about performing at the Kennedy Center someday.  Maybe the president will come over and catch the performance.

10 iPhone Apps for Preschoolers That Reinforce Letter Recognition

Learning the alphabet and memorizing the shapes and sounds that each letter makes is a big job for preschoolers, and is one that requires plenty of practice and a method of teaching that keeps kids engaged and excited to learn. The power that Apple’s wildly popular iPhone has to grasp kids’ attention and help them learn new skills through interactive apps and games make it a very valuable tool in any parent’s teaching repertoire. These 10 apps can help your child learn the letters of the alphabet, and provide an entertaining refresher course any time he’s in need.

  1. LetterRecognition – This $1.99 app focuses on helping your children learn to name random letters of the alphabet accurately and in a timely manner. The letters appear in both upper- and lower-case form, and in or out of alphabetical order to ensure that your little one is learning how to recognize each of them independently.
  2. Bogga Alphabet – Pre-reading preschoolers will love this interactive, virtual version of the same brightly-colored magnetized letters they already know and love. In addition to reinforcing kids’ ability to recognize letters, Bogga Alphabet also lets kids listen to audio pronunciations and practice their skills as a budding spelling bee champion by lining letters up to form short words.
  3. Little Writer – The Tracing App for Kids – By tracing the lines of each letter in the alphabet, kids are able to commit those shapes to memory and boost their ability to recognize those letters. This free app is customizable in order to suit a variety of skill levels and offers a reward system based upon correct responses. As an added bonus, you can record audio yourself so that every lesson your child learns is in your familiar voice.
  4. Alphabet Zoo – Designed by educators as an effective method of helping kids learn letter-sound association, this $0.99 app is a valuable tool in your arsenal when it comes to helping your child learn to recognize letters and build the skills he’ll need when he begins to read. Built around concepts that are embraced by the US Common Core curriculum standards for phonics and word recognition, this app is well worth the small investment it requires.
  5. Goodnight ABC – Raved about by journalists, parents and educators alike, the iPhone version of this popular iPad app is free in the App Store. Not only will Goodnight ABC help your child learn the alphabet and letter recognition, but also other fundamental preschool skills like colors and numbers as well. There are no rigid rules of game play, no time limits and no pressure to make your child feel anxious regarding his performance, making this app a great choice for kids that struggle with anxiety problems.
  6. Pop ABCs – Learning to identify each letter of the alphabet and to associate the proper phonetic sounds with each of them is a breeze with this $1.99 app, which was tested and approved by both kids and their educators.
  7. Letter Tracer – Spending time tracing and painting the various letters of the alphabet will help to familiarize kids with their shapes, boosting recognition and helping kids to retain the information through repetition. Combining visual representations of each letter with reinforcement via tracing and voice-overs for identifying them, this $0.99 app is a great choice for preschool preparation.
  8. Kids ABC lite – Supporting both capital and lower-case letters and offering tracing, audio reinforcement and reading prep along with early writing skills, this lite version of the paid Kids ABC is powerful and engaging in its own right. Designed with a simple interface that is easily navigable by kids, this app is a must-have for parents of preschoolers.
  9. Nick Jr.’s A to Z with Moose and Zee – Featuring kid-favorite Nick Jr. characters, this $1.99 app seamlessly combines entertainment and education. Part hidden-object game and part letter recognition tool, A to Z with Moose and Zee will keep your child endlessly absorbed and learning every step of the way.
  10. Alphabet Tracing – In addition to the exciting animations featuring worms, trucks and trains, the free Alphabet Tracing app doubles as a doodle pad and even allows you to print hard copies of tracing worksheets as PDF files. Kids can combine interactive handheld learning with more traditional worksheet-based lessons for an immersive learning experience.

While these apps do have the power to help your child learn much more about letter recognition and phonics than he would on his own, they’re no substitute for the guidance and attention of a loving parent or caregiver. Rather than handing your phone over to a preschooler in an attempt to distract him during long car rides or shopping trips, make an effort to use these apps together to get the greatest benefit. After all, learning is much more fun with a friend.

6 Things Live-In Nannies Should Respect

When it comes to living in a family’s private home, the boundaries of the employer and nanny relationship can be tricky to define. Live-in nannies not only function as primary caregiver for their employer’s children, but they function as housemates for the entire family. For this reason, the personal and professional boundaries for a live-in nanny and her employers are naturally blurred.

According to Gael Ann Dow, a live-in nanny with 26 years of experience and a graduate from the National Academy of Nannies, Inc., live-in nannies can help keep personal and professional lines from crossing by being respectful of 6 key things.

Dow advises live-in nannies to be respectful of the family’s:

1. Time with their children. When you’re off duty, it’s important to allow the children and the parents to spend time together, without you present. While young children can have a hard time understanding why they can’t come into your room when you are off duty or why you can’t accompany them on a family picnic, allowing the family to function as a unit without you is essential to both the nanny and the family’s emotional health. Dow advises nannies to plan to eat dinner with the family some nights when they are off duty, but not every night.

2. Time as a couple. For live-in nannies, knowing how to blend into the background is essential. As the third adult in the home, it may often feel natural for everyone to include you in grown up conversation and activities. While it’s fine to enjoy an occasional take-out dinner with your bosses after the kids go to bed, be sure you’re respectful of the time they have together and allow the parents time to enjoy each other’s company alone. 

3. Time with their guests and visitors. When an employer has guests and visitors over, the situation can seem a bit awkward. When invited to join the guests, it can be hard to tell if the invitation was issued because of obligation or sincerity. Asking her employer’s for guidance on the issue prior to the guests arriving can often make the nanny and her employers feel more at east. Dow suggests that having a place to visit, like a friend or sister’s house, can provide an opportunity to retreat and recharge when guests are visiting.

4. Their property and possessions. When working as a live-in nanny, it is essential to utilize your employer’s property and possessions with care. Live-in nannies should keep their areas neat and clean and should ensure that the follow any house rules set forth by the employer with regards to having visitors, using certain house areas and any special care instructions.  If you accidently break something, report it and offer to replace it.

5. Their private space. Typically the employer’s bedroom and office space is assumed to be off limits to live-in nannies.  If you’re asked to enter these private areas for a specific reason, it’s important to do so and to avoid any temptation to snoop.

6. The family’s private matters. Live-in nannies are often privy to private and sensitive information, according to Dow. Respecting your employer’s confidentiality is paramount to building a trusting, lasting relationship.

Adjusting to both a new nanny position and new living arrangements takes some getting used to.  Having a written work agreement, asking questions and dealing with issues as they come up can help live-in nannies build lasting employment relationships.

30 Blogs With the Best Homeschooling Tips

The number of American children that attend classes within their own home rather than public or private schools is climbing at a steady rate every year, with a 74% relative increase over the eight-year period between 1999 and 2007, according to the National Center for Education statistics. These rising numbers indicate that the face of education in the United States is changing, with more parents opting to teach their children at home with every passing school year. If you’re among the growing number of parents who have chosen homeschooling over the traditional public or private education models, these 30 blog entries can offer you some valuable hints, tips and ideas for ensuring that your children get the most from their home-based education.

Preschool and Kindergarten Curriculum

Whether you’re simply keeping your young child home for the first few years of his education or are planning to homeschool him for the duration of his school years, determining the best and most effective curriculum isn’t always easy. These five bloggers offer valuable ideas and insights regarding a pre-k and kindergarten homeschool curriculum, and may help you find the right methods to suit the needs of your pint-sized homeschooling student.

Elementary Homeschool Curriculum

While homeschooling your child through preschool and first grade can help you become acclimated to the most effective schedule and teaching methods for your child, you’ll still be forced to adapt your curricula with every passing year. These blog entries focus on the elementary homeschooling experience, and can be valuable resources for the homeschooling parent.

Middle School Curriculum

As kids get older, their individual needs in relation to academic strengths and weaknesses become more pronounced. By the middle school years you’ll be able to easily spot the areas that need more attention, but may still be struggling with settling upon a specific curriculum and adapting it to suit your child’s needs. That’s where these five blogs can prove to be quite useful, as they’re centered on curricula specific to the middle school and junior high student.

High School Curriculum and Help

By the time your homeschooled child approaches high school, the need to assert his independence and perhaps to attend traditional classes may start to become a challenge. Managing the twin demands of juggling a lesson plan with soothing those pangs of rebellion isn’t easy, but these homeschooling bloggers can offer you some much-needed support by sharing their own experiences and advice.

Socialization and Peer Interaction

One of the primary concerns a parent considering the homeschooling lifestyle may have is that their children will not learn the social skills that they’ll need as adults if they’re deprived of the group-learning public or private school experience. These five bloggers offer advice for socializing and ensuring that your homeschooled child is allowed plenty of interaction with other kids his age.

Hands-On Lessons and Field Trips

The beauty of homeschooling is relative, with each educating parent citing their own favorite aspect of the process. One major perk that’s generally agreed upon across the board is the freedom of teaching your children through unconventional, interactive methods that wouldn’t be feasible in a larger classroom setting. These five blogs are filled with unexpected and exciting hands-on lesson plans and field trips for homeschooling families.

How Stereotypes May Cause You to Miss Out on a Great Nanny

Choosing the right nanny for your family is a very personal process. There are lots of factors to consider, such as the nanny’s education, experience and caregiving philosophy, along with how she connects with your family. Your ideas about nannies in general also come into play.  Many nanny employers have ideas about certain types of nannies based on their own experiences with previous caregivers or stories they’ve heard from friends and colleagues. Sometimes this type casting turns out to be true. Most often, though, it turns out to be false, and it can end up keeping you from considering a nanny that may be a wonderful match to your family. When choosing your next nanny, make sure you don’t fall victim to these stereotypes.

Young nannies are immature and can’t be counted on to stay in a job for the agreed upon commitment period. There have been lots of young nannies entering the field in recent years. Many are starting a career after graduating from a vocational high school or a community college childcare program, or are moving into nanny care after losing a daycare or preschool job due to the economic downturn. This is a different breed of young nanny than our industry has seen in the past. They often have a solid foundation of childcare education, a lot of hands-on experience and a clear understanding of what working with children on a daily basis means. Although they’re young, they’ve thought through their choices and want a long term job just as much as families want a long term nanny. When choosing nannies to interview, you should take a serious look at any young candidates that have applied for the position. You might find several that bring the maturity and commitment you’re looking for.

Older nannies can’t keep up with my child. Senior nannies are another growing group within nanny care. These nannies are sometimes called Granny Nannies and are often seen as a grandmother figure for the child. In this day and age when so many families have no extended family close by, this can be a comforting view of a nanny. Unfortunately it also invokes the image of an elderly woman sitting in a rocking chair or teetering around the house. Most of today’s senior nannies don’t fit into that picture at all. Yes, if you peeked in on a senior nanny during the day you might find her in a rocking chair soothing a baby to sleep or reading a book to a child. But it’s just as likely that you’d find her playing tag with an active toddler at the playground or taking a preschooler on a field trip to the firehouse. Older nannies are often full of energy and can easily juggle the demands of a nanny job.

Overweight nannies are couch potatoes. The last thing a parent wants is to hire a nanny that’s going to plop their child down in front of the TV all day. Unfortunately this is the image that comes to mind when many parents think of overweight nannies. Because being overweight is associated with a sedentary lifestyle, it’s hard to imagine an overweight caregiver doing much of anything during the day. In most cases, however, that’s simply not the case. Although an overweight nanny may not be able to run a marathon or take an all day bike trek, chances are she won’t have any problems keeping up with your active toddler at the park, spending the day at the zoo, or playing a game of basketball at the local court. A quality nanny, regardless of how much she weighs, is active and engaged throughout the day.

Career nannies are set in their ways and won’t let me parent my way. Nannies that have extensive experience bring a lot of ideas, approaches and strategies to their jobs. Chances are whatever challenge comes up, an experienced nanny has dealt with something similar before. Although she may have seen the situation previously, an experienced nanny also knows that every situation, every child and every parent is different. She understands that while she can offer tricks of the trade and guidance, she’s ultimately there to follow the parents’ lead. As a nanny, it’s her job to support the parents and help them in whatever ways they find most useful. Hiring a career nanny can give you an on-site expert to answer your questions, offer suggestions, and provide experience based solutions to challenging behaviors, all while fully supporting your parenting choices.

Many times the image we have in our minds of a certain type of person doesn’t line up with what that person’s like in real life. When hiring a nanny, those misconceptions can cause you to pass over fitting candidates. Take the time to get to know prospective nannies that you have reservations about because of a common stereotype. You could be very pleasantly surprised.