Most au pair positions require the au pair to provide some sort of assistance with the child’s homework or a bit of tutoring with specific subjects. Depending on the ages of the children, this will determine the level of assistance required. With the little ones, homework is not usually a thing, however more often than not the parents will require the au pair to offer some form of stimulation/educational element to their time together. It is always good to chat with the child’s parents in order to determine what stimulation they require you to do. With a baby, there are specific techniques and activities that you can do in order to provide that element of educational time, but as it differs with each child’s abilities, so will it differ with different parents and their specific ideas of what they want their baby to be doing. Some folk want their babies to start a bit younger whilst others are more inclined to let their babies only start with educational activities at a later stage. It is important that you communicate with the child’s parents on a regular basis in order to ensure that you are keeping up with their expectations of you when it comes to the educational/stimulation element of the job.
With the older children who actually receive homework from their teacher and are expected to complete the homework in the afternoon when they get home, your level of academic input might be higher than that of a small child. It takes dedication and enthusiasm (most of the time) on the part of the au pair to encourage the child to do the homework! It is always a good idea to follow these tips when you are responsible for ensuring a child does their homework –
- Set a great example – It is important for the child to see that the au pair/adult views the homework as important. If you have a negative attitude toward the homework and “just get it done” this will rub off on the child and profoundly affect how they view homework and how they relate to getting their work done. Keep in mind that if you are an au pair, you are constantly being watched by the child and they view you as an example. Try having a positive approach to homework and this will definitely rub off on the child. If you consider homework a priority, they are more likely to also view homework as important.
- Pick a specific time – If you have have a routine in place, this will assist the child with time management, which is vital in a child’s life. They need to have a routine when it comes to homework. If they know that when you get home after school it is wash hands time, have a snack then settle down to do homework, this will likely help them to get it done. If they know that after homework at for example 14:30 it is play time, they will be more inclined to settle down and get it done, with your help of course.
- Make it fun (sometimes) – Homework is not always fun. Period. However, you are able to make it a little bit fun, some of the time. If you can think of ways to add an element of excitement to the homework process, do it! Perhaps take the books and go and sit in the garden oneday and do homework outside! Or buy a small packet of smarties and for every right answer they get a smartie! Use your imagination!
- Limit the distractions – Appliances such as the TV or a radio or even music can be a distraction to a child who is trying to do homework. Switch off or remove unnecessary distractions. Sometimes even a pet or a smaller sibling can serve as a distraction. Think of ways to entertain the younger sibling during homework time to ensure the child can concentrate on their work at hand.
- Offer assistance – It is your job to help the child with their homework. If they are dealing with concepts they do not understand, you need to provide guidance. Make it your job to know what they are learning about at school and ensure that you are able to offer them the help that they need. Learning continues at home and it is your responsibility to ensure that you are present (in other words DO NOT SIT ON YOUR CELLPHONE) during homework time. You need to provide guidance.
There are many different ways of learning, as each child is unique, so will their learning abilities differ. It is important that you get to know the child that you care for and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses so that you are better equipped to offer them help. What works for one child, will not necessarily work for another. Children are different and have different abilities when it comes to learning. It is your responsibility that you get to know the child’s abilities so that you can offer ways of adding to their academic and educational journey. Keep in mind that there are many more ways than just academics that can be used to teach children. Learning should take a holistic approach ensuring that children are allowed to ‘learn’ in their own unique ways. Keep up the great work, girls!
Love Fab Au Pairs xoxo