5 Communication Tips for Busy Families with Nannies

Communication is critical in maintaining family routines and minimizing stress.

child on bikeFamilies today have busy schedules and the larger the family – the greater the challenge. Playdates, school, work meetings, cooking, sports, and summer vacations are just a few of the family activities and commitments that can create a hectic schedule but strong communications between families and nannies can help child routines go smoothly. Communication is critical in maintaining family routines and minimizing stress. Here are 5 tips to help busy families and nannies better communicate.

1. Face to Face Conversations. In this day of cell phones, texting, and emails, the benefits of a face to face conversation are sometimes overlooked. Taking a few minutes when transferring supervisor responsibilities can make a world of difference. Nannies can communicate the highlights of how the children were feeling and behaving while in her care and the family can share the key activities for the day. Remember to make eye contact and be aware of how your body image impacts the meaning of your words. Speak clearly and listen attentively. If you are receiving a lot of information, take notes and then restate the information to make sure your comprehension is accurate.

2. Communication center. A communication center provides a place help the family and nanny share information. A communication center can be a physical location such as a bulletin board, refrigerator, or cubby hole. It can also make use of today’s technology and be a group email list or a joint electronic calendar. The crucial element is that every family member has access and regularly checks the communication center. Nannies and Families must have access to the communication center. Sharing key information about activities and events with their locations and times help the nanny know when and where to care for the children so she can do the job successfully.

daily log3. Daily logs. A daily report may be a one-page template or a quick written note highlighting the activities and key points from the day. The contents of the daily log will differ based on the child’s age and the desires of the parents. It may include feeding, toileting, activities, completed homework, and any household management duties completed during the day, among other things. Unusual events such as symptoms of an illness or a fall at the playground, as well as any actions taken by the nanny such as administering medication or getting medical assistance should be listed. The daily log should be shared in the communication center. Of course – an emergency must be handled appropriately and then summarized later in the daily log.

4. Expense reports. Nannies should have access to money for childcare related expenses – whether it is petty cash or a prepaid card. An important part of the job is communicating how that cash is spent. There should be a defined process to track finances. A weekly report which includes all receipts for expenses is usually sufficient. The report should list the date, location of purchase, items purchased, and total amount spent. For family assistant positions that include shopping such as picking up dry cleaning, groceries, and putting gas in the car, the weekly report should list all the receipts with a general summary of the items purchased.

5. Work agreements. Each nanny position is unique with respect to job duties and expectations. A work agreement is a great tool that lists the job responsibilities and expectations which allows the families and nannies to align on expectations. Work agreements are developed between the nanny and the family with both sides agreeing to the contents. If you don’t have one already, take a few minutes to review a work agreement. For free templates, visit AmsleeInstitute.com/courses which has a 30-minute video on work agreements as well as templates for Sitters, full time nannies, and live-in nannies.

Successful communication between a nanny and the family is critical to successful completion of the nanny’s duties. Communicating with the children can set expectations for daily activities and routines resulting in consistency for the children. Successful communicating with family members reassures all involved that the children are receiving the best possible care.

To learn more, a Communicating with Families course is available with enrollment in the Advanced Childcare program at AmsleeInstitute.com.

About the Author. Michelle Dragalin. Michelle earned an Educational Specialist in Educational Technology from Walden University, Master of Education from University of Phoenix, Bachelor of Art in Special Education from Old Dominion University, and Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University. Michelle is a Texas elementary school teacher (PK-8) and has experience in Colorado elementary schools and working as a special education teacher. Michelle is an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute.


5 Ways to Add Music Education to Your Child’s Routine

Music is so important to children because it enhances speaking and vocal development, communication and attention skills.

Music is so important to children because it enhances speaking and vocal development, communication and attention skills. When activities include music and play, children have the ability to focus and develop listening skills. Children also learn ways to express themselves and engage socially.

Music can be used to reinforce everything you are doing with children, from learning colors to brushing teeth. You can easily add music throughout your day – at breakfast, dinner, playtime, naptime, and even in the car.

There are songs you can use to reinforce the skills or content you are trying to teach. Here are five ways to add music to your child’s routine.

1. For infants, music can be added to playtime. To practice hand movements that improve coordination, listen to Two Little Blackbirds and create a bird by looping your two thumbs together. As you recite the song, your ‘bird’ flies around. This is a great activity for infants as they often imitate the birds’ movements. You can substitute your child’s name instead of using the names Peter and Paul. To provide variety and help build their vocabulary, ask your little one to give you some names, perhaps mom’s name, brother’s name, or dad’s name.

2. For toddlers, music can be used to introduce counting as part of a nap time routine. Here is the song Ten Little Angels. We chose to use pots and kitchen items so don’t think you need expensive instruments to make music. Music making should be a fun and enjoyable process as seen in the video. You can have your child experiment with keeping the beat softly or loudly, marching or skipping. Make sure to vary movement and dynamics. Let children experiment, succeed, or fail, creating a safe, fun way to learn. At this age, mistakes do not really matter, it’s all about the learning process.

3. Music can help preschoolers learn colors, as in the song, Sing a Rainbow. You can use socks, plastic dishes, gloves, streamers, or anything that will provide you with the colors required. Have the child point or pick up the colored object as it is sung. If you have more than one child, you can give each child a specific color and have him/her hold up their colored object as you sing it. Before and/or after you sing the song, ask the child about the color of an object in a room such as, “What is the color of the rug?” “What in this room is green?” By doing this, you do two things: first, you assess are assessing what your child may or may not already know; and secondly, you build the child’s vocabulary and association with colors.

4. For kindergartners, music can be used to help them gain independence during their morning routine. For example, select a song that is 2 minutes long. Have this song play while they brush their teeth, so they learn how long they should brush. Then add a second song and teach them to use this time to choose their clothes, put their pajamas in the laundry basket, and get dressed. Adding a third song would indicate it’s time to put their lunch box and book in their backpack for school.

5. As children grow into first grade, memorization and advanced learning can be improved through music. I Know an Old Lady is a sing along and it’s often challenging to recall the order as it’s a long song, and sometimes a tongue-twister. Notice I have the animals from the song hanging on the wall behind me. This is to help the child sing along and recall the order (and help you if you do not have the animals memorized). You do not need anything fancy to do this song; before I bought the Old Lady Puppet, I used colored drawings of the animals.

Adding music to a child’s day is all about having fun so don’t worry if you are not a musician or singer. Sing – even if you don’t think you have the “best voice”, as a child is not going to judge you and singing helps them build their vocabulary. Play Instruments! You can use everyday household items such as pots and pans and wooden spoons. You don’t necessarily have to have a real instrument. Make instruments – a shaker can be as simple as an empty water bottle filled with popcorn kernels

Music has proven to increase learning so provide lots of opportunities for children to create and explore music. Encourage children to listen to different types of music and experiment with creating rhythms while making their own music. This helps children realize that they can make decisions for themselves as they build critical thinking skills.

For more information about using music to care for children, a Children and Music course is available within the Advanced Childcare Certification Program from Amslee Institute.

Dr. Beth StutzmannAbout the Author. Dr. Beth Stutzmann earned her Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education from Shenandoah University, Master of Music in Horn Performance from Oklahoma City University, and Bachelor of Music in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory of Music. Dr. Stutzmann began her teaching career in public schools, instructing general music classes in grades PreK-8. She is the AP Music Theory Curriculum Writer for the University System of California and teaches for Georgia Virtual School. She was named Governor’s Teaching Fellow in 2012. In the same year, she was also the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success. Dr. Stutzmann is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

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