Host Family Questions

HF Q’s – Can I take my au pair on vacations with me?

tropical-84537_640 (1)Absolutely!  Who hasn’t been on vacation and wished that there was someone who could take the kids for a few hours?  Many families bring their au pairs along with them on vacation and have a fabulous time.  When preparing to go on vacation, please keep the following things in mind.

1) If you are requiring your au pair to accompany you need to provide for her expenses.

2) You will need to give your au pair a schedule of on and off-duty time so she can plan her free time.

3) You still need to remain within the regulations, meaning no more than 10 on-duty hours per day and 45 hours per week.

4) During vacation, you can have your au pair sleep in the same room as your children, but most au pairs are uncomfortable sleeping in the same room as the host parents.

5) Be sure to make your au pair aware of any additional hazards that she or your children might not be aware of.

6) If you are traveling outside the US, your au pair will need to get a travel verification signed by Au Pair International and she might also need a visa for the country you are visiting.

 

Do you have more vacation questions?  Feel free to ask them here or any other questions about the Au Pair Program or Au Pair International.

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Learning is Fun

5 DIY Projects to Keep Your Kids Entertained

With summer vacation just around the corner, the kids will be at home–and inevitably, you’ll hear them say “I’m bored”. You’ll need some ideas to keep them happy and entertained, even on hot or rainy days. Many kids will readily get up and go outdoors if they get to make something; below are some easy and affordable projects for kids of all ages, to be done rain or shine.

DIY Lava Lamp

Flava

For this project you’ll need:

Empty water or soda bottles
Vegetable oil
Food colouring
Alka-Seltzer

Fill the bottles a little over half-full of oil, filling the remaining space with water. Leave roughly 1″ at the top. Add ten drops of any color food coloring. Break each Alka-Seltzer tablet into four pieces, and drop them into the bottles one at a time. Wait for each piece to stop bubbling before dropping the next one in, or the solution will become cloudy.

Soda Bottle Fireflies

You’ll need:

Green soda bottles, cleaned and with labels removed
Glow sticks in various colors
Pipe cleaners (for legs and antennae)
Beads or googly eyes
Cardboard or construction paper for wings
Scissors
Glue
Black paint or marker pen
Tape

This craft is ideal for dusk and after-dark play. Transform a green soda bottle into a firefly with a simple glow stick (they’re readily available at discount and dollar stores). Simply decorate the bottles with eyes and wings (don’t forget to supervise children when cutting out the wings), pop the glowstick inside the bottle, do it up and place around the house or garden. You can save the ‘fireflies’ year after year, simply adding a fresh glow stick with each use.

DIY Sidewalk Paint

If we’d had this when we were kids, our parents would have had a VERY colorful driveway indeed! This paint is very easy and fun to make. Mix up a paste of food coloring, cornstarch and water, and use an empty egg carton or old muffin tin as a palette. That’s it!

Decorating the Doors

This easy idea can be adapted to any holiday or time of year. Wrap your door in colorful paper, being sure to cut a hole for the doorknob and/or lock. Add stickers, use poster paint or markers, or tie a ribbon around the door to make it look like a big gift that you can’t wait to ‘open’! Alternatively, cover the door in white paper and let the kids use it as a ‘whiteboard’ – make sure that the paper is thick enough to avoid staining the door and that no sharp pens, such as biros, are used to avoid any scratches.

Homemade Edible Finger Paint

This idea is great for kids of every age; with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, you can make edible finger paint. Finger_PaintingYou’ll need:

Sugar
Flour
Food coloring
Salt
Plastic cups (or baby food jars)

Image URL: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Finger_Painting.jpg

Add two tablespoons of sugar to an empty saucepan. Mix in 1/3 cup of flour and stir in two cups of water, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Turn the stove on low and stir constantly until the mixture has thickened. Divide the mixture evenly among the plastic cups or baby food jars. Add in a couple of drops of food coloring (use slightly more for darker colors). Stir until completely blended, and allow to fully cool before use.

This post was written by the team at UK Oak Doors, proud retailers of internal oak doors.

Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – Pirates

The Golden Age of Pirates was from 1560 to 1730 and many of the most famous pirates were based in the Caribbean.  The most notorious pirates lived around 1700 and include: Blackbeard (considered the most feared pirate), Calico Jack Rackham (who created the classic Jolly Roger flag with scull and crossbones), Henry Morgan and Bartholomew Roberts (both very successful pirates).

Fun Pirate Facts:

1. They Rarely Buried Treasure

2. Their Careers Didn’t Last Long

3. They Had Rules and Regulations

4. They Didn’t Walk the Plank

5. A Good Pirate Ship had Good Officers

6. The Pirates Didn’t Limit Themselves to the Caribbean

7. There Were Women Pirates

8. Piracy was better than the Alternatives

9. They came from all Social Classes

10. Not all Pirates were Criminals

Learn more about each of these facts at About.com.

Check out these and other books about Pirates at your local library.

51kgyJil6ML._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX225_SY300_CR,0,0,225,300_SH20_OU01_[1] 9780439918138[1] imagesCAK7BVT4 imagesCAW2HUNI

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pirate Crafts:

Pirate’s Hat

pirate_hat_10

Pirate Flag.

pirateflag2RS6k[1]

 

Paper Plate Pirate

DSC_1116[1]

 

Paper Plate Parrot

splate-parrot

Sunset Pirate Ship

SunsetPirates4RS6k[1]

Pirate Masks

pirate-masks

Newspaper Pirate Hat

NewspaperPirateHat16RS6k[1]

Pirate’s Hook

pirate-hook-craft

Easy Catapult 

EasyCatapult13RS6k[1]

Pirate Activities:

How to Talk Like a Pirate

Sandpit Treasure Hunt

Online Pirate Quiz

Pirate Maze

Pirate Song

Pirate Poem

Pirate Snacks:

Pirate Ship Cheese and Apples

Peter-Pan-2-780x676

Treasure Map Quesadilla 

mapbefore[1]

Pirate Sandwich

piratebento[1]

Jolly Roger Sandwich

PirateLunchW[1]

Additional Lesson Plans:

Teachers.net

WorldHistory.org

YahooVoices.com

Au Pair International puts together weekly learning crafts and activities called Theme of the Week to help au pairs and host parents with ideas about educational and fun activities to do with their kids.  Want to learn more about au pairs?  Check out au pair profiles on our website.

Au Pair Adventures

Au Pair Adventures – Race Day!

 

 

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Guest Post from Shawn S.  an au pair from South Africa who is matched with a family in New York.

On Sunday 28 April 2013 the school at which my youngest child attends, hosted a family fun run called the West Side Run. I was in attendance with both the two boys I Au Pair as well as my host dad. It had been decided around two months ago that we would be attending the fun run and that both my boys would be running in it. J. the youngest (8) would run in the 1 Mile race whilst T. the oldest (12) would run the 5 Km with me. Once we had decided to run that is when preparations for the race started. We trained on the odd occasion when we found some free time away from the boys schedules. J. was not very keen to train nor run as he found it to be boring but T. on the other hand thrived and I found him to be be very excited about running. The day of the race grew closer and the more nervous I became as I knew T. was going to put up a good challenge for me to stay with him all race long. We registered the night before the race and received our bright orange shirts and race numbers and got an early nights rest so that we would be bright and awake for the run the next morning. We woke on Sunday feeling anxious about the race not knowing how many people would be there or how competitive it would be. We arrived to many other people dressed in Bright orange shirts and ready to run. My host dad and J. had their race first. They completed their mile in a solid 15 minutes and received a medal for their efforts. Next up was T. and me. Our race started at quite a fast pace but T. and I were up to the challenge. We ran together past the first mile marker and then shortly before the second mile marker T. started to pull away from me. Luckily we were towards the front all race long and so my stumbling a little bit meant that even though T. was ahead of me we were still towards the front of the race. T. ended up finishing the race in 25 minutes with me coming in at 29 minutes. we both received a medal on arrival which felt good but what happened next was a surprise to us both. After all the runners had finished a trophy ceremony was conducted and trophies were handed out to the first, second and third place finishers per age category. Unfortunately J. and my host dad did not receive a trophy as the pace at which their 1 Mile race was run was exceptionally fast. Then it came to the handing out of the 11 to 12 age category for the 5 Km race. T. won the first place trophy. We knew he had run fast but not that he had won. He had a great big smile on his face in amazement that he had done so well. It felt great to see him achieve something like that. Then it came to the 20 to 29 age category and I too came first and received a trophy for it. I think my smile must have been bigger then T as I honestly thought I had done terribly. But overall it was a great time of bonding with both boys and experiencing their excitement towards the race was worth more then words can describe.

Many au pairs are more than just caregivers, check out Top 7 Unexpected Reasons to get an Au Pair.

Interested in getting a male au pair?  Here are some of Au Pair International’s highly qualified candidates:

Armand B.

Giorgi K.

Jaime S.

Robin

 

Candidates, Host Family Questions, The Matching Process

3 Tips for Finding the Right Au Pair

The most common question I get from prospective host families is “How will I know which au pair is right for me?”  Good question.  We have au pairs from all over the world, who speak many different languages and have many different experiences.  Some families can narrow the field because they have a certain language or nationality they want their children to learn about, but most just want a kind and compassionate person who will love their children and give them the care they need.  Here are some tips to make the search for the right au pair for your family easier.

Yada from Thailand
Yada from Thailand
Ntombezonke  from South Africa
Ntombezonke from S. Africa
Glenda from Guatemala
Glenda from Guatemala

#1 Be Honest!

The first mistake many potential host parents make is trying to “sell” their family to the au pair candidates.  They want the au pair to like them so they gloss over the less-than-perfect stuff.  These families might get their first choice, but that doesn’t mean that they will get the right au pair for their family.

Be upfront and honest about what your family is like and what your needs are.  If you have a strict no TV rule, make sure to tell the candidates that.  If you have a child that’s a hitter, let the au pair know.  If you are conservative about dress and appearance, mention what standards you would like observed in your home.  If you have special diets or allergies, again, let the au pair know.  Now, I’m not saying the first thing you do is send an email stating all the negative things about your family, but you should carefully consider what makes your family unique (both good and bad) and during the matching process make sure your au pair has an accurate picture of your family.

This goes for the area you live, too.  Some au pairs want to live in a big city; others are good with a quiet suburb.  We have even had some au pairs request a rural setting.  If you live 10 miles from the closest grocery store and the next big city is 20 miles beyond that, you need to let your potential au pairs know this.  On the flip side, if you live in an area where traffic is crazy and there are people everywhere, you should probably mention that, too.

Yuri from South Korea
Yuri from South Korea
Jelena from Serbia
Jelena from Serbia
Renuka from Nepal
Renuka from Nepal

#2 Interview, Interview, Interview

So many families see only a couple files or videos of au pairs, fall in love with one of them, have one interview and ask them to be their au pair.  You might get lucky and have matched with the perfect au pair for you, but chances are both you and your au pair are going to be surprised when you actually start living together.  The better plan: interview many, interview often, and interview all.

Interview many – Meaning start off with a good amount of potential candidates and send an introductory email to them.  I would say 5 to 8 au pairs.  Even if you think their file is light on content, give them a chance to tell you about themselves.  Then narrow it down to about half that you want to Skype with (if you are not familiar with Skype, I would recommend getting comfortable with it.  This is how the vast majority of au pairs communicate with potential host families).  Then narrow it down again to 2 or 3 that are your favorites.

Interview often – Most of the time one video chat or phone call is not going to cut it.  You need to send emails back and forth and plan on Skyping several times.  This is the time to be honest about your family and expectations.  Evaluate your needs and make sure you ask questions to see if he or she will meet those needs.  If you need a driver, make sure to ask lots of questions about their driving experience.  If you have a 3-year-old, ask what types of activities she/he likes to do with that age child.  If you need someone who cooks, ask what they like to cook.  Don’t ask a bunch of yes or no questions, but more questions that start with “How would you handle…”  “Tell me about a time you…” This way you can see how they would react in a difficult situation.

Interview all – Make sure that all the members of your family have a chance to Skype with your favorite au pairs.  You can even introduce your babies or pets and tell the au pairs a little about them.  This will help your potential au pair to understand your family a little more.  You might even want to consider talking with the au pair’s family to get a better understanding of him/her.

Ling from China
Ling from China
Julia from France
Julia from France
Teresa from Spain
Teresa from Spain

#3 Understand your part

Remember, this is not a job interview; this is a cultural exchange program.  You are not hiring a nanny, but agreeing to participate in a program where the au pair will live in your home like a member of the family and take care of your kids.  Be sure you understand what you are agreeing to by hosting an au pair.

There are no guarantees that any match will be perfect, but by following these tips you and your au pair will understand each other better and hopefully be a great fit.

Top 7 Unexpected Reasons to get an Au Pair

The pictures in this post are of au pairs that currently available.  If you would like to see their full profile, click on their picture. This post is a update from a post from September 2012.
Learning is Fun, Theme of the Week

Theme of the Week – Jellyfish

Jellyfish are beautiful marine creatures that can be found in oceans all over the world, even near Antarctica.  They can be found at the surface of the water or down deep in the sea.  They are very simple organisms that have an umbrella-shaped top and tentacles that trail below.  Jellyfish use their tentacles like a net to find food.  Their tentacles also are a great defense mechanism since they carry venom that is shot into a predator, temporarily paralyzing it and allowing the jellyfish to escape.

Did you know…

… some jellyfish are bigger than a human and others are as small as a pinhead?
… people in some countries eat jellyfish?
… that jellyfish have been on Earth for millions of years, even before dinosaurs?
… jellyfish have no brain but some kinds have eyes?
… that jellyfish are mainly made up of water and protein?
… a group of jellyfish is called a smack? (http://www.jellywatch.org/blooms/facts)

Want to learn more about jellyfish?  Check out these websites:

http://twistedsifter.com/2009/06/10-amazing-facts-about-jellyfish/

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/jellyfish/

http://www.jellyfishfacts.net/

Jellyfish Activities:

Make your own jellyfish lights.

make-your-own-jellyfish-lights

Check out this amazing jellyfish in a bottle.

101106_jellyfish5

Create a fun jellyfish umbrella.

l in jellyfish

These are beautiful ribbon jellyfish.

101691463-blog

These jellyfish are easy for kids of any age.

jazzy-jellyfish-craft-photo-260x260-cl-a

Pretend with this no-sew jellyfish costume.

jellyfish-costume

Make glow-in-the-dark jellyfish.

jellyfish 8

Jellyfish Song and Video:

The Jellyfish Song

Jellyfish Poem:

The Lost Jellyfish

Jellyfish Snacks:

Jello Jellyfish

jello jellyfish

Hot Dogs Jellyfish

6083166943_40dfc06f67_m

Jellyfish Sandwiches

JELLYFISH-SANDWICH

Jellyfish Lesson Plans:

Westfield

Bright Hub Education

Suite 101

Books about Jellyfish:  Go visit your local library to find these and other books about jellyfish.

book4 book1 book2 book3

 

 

 

Theme of the Week:  Au Pair International developed the Theme of the Week to give au pairs different ideas of things to do with the kids they take care of.  If you are interested in learning more about the Au Pair Program, contact Au Pair International.