Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category

brain glow

(Brain, Public Domain)

Scientists and educators used to believe that the human brain matured in childhood and stayed pretty much the same through adulthood–until an eventual decline in old age. We now know from studies such as The Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) that the human brain continues to learn and change well into later life. This is called “neuroplasticity.”

Studies with children, such as those conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm regarding “the effects of a working memory training program on children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)” show that brain training also creates neuroplasticity  in the young.

Lumosity.com provides membership access for over 40 brain training games which appear to be simple and fun video games, but which are actually based on neuropsychological  and learning principles.  Most games presently available are suitable for children aged 10 through high school—and for host moms and dads who also want to play. Some games may be suitable for au pairs, as they acclimate to linguistic and cultural changes in their host country.

Lifetime membership at Lumosity.com is $299.95, and monthly rates are as low as $4.99 per month. A limited access free trial is available.

Brain games, anyone?

Read Full Post »

“How long have you been in the United States?” “Six months” “And you?” “What do you miss most?” “


(The Julia Set, Public Domain)

I miss my family.” “I miss the bakery down the street.” “ The music is so different here!!!”

The dialog above describes “culture shock.” Culture shock comes with separation from one’s own family and country, and with living in the midst of a very different culture. Culture shock doesn’t mean it isn’t a good experience to live abroad, but it does mean things are very different. How can au pairs cope gracefully?

One simple way to keep in touch with “home,” while remaining open to new cultural experiences, is to create a “home space,” a place that contains colors, sounds, smells, books, and other things from “home.” This little space becomes a retreat, especially in the evening when activity has quieted in the Host Family home.

There is a psychological principle involved in spending “home time” just before bedtime. We remember best what we learn first (e.g., early in the day) and last (e.g., just before bed)—and we remember less about what happens in-between.  The former increased memory and learning is called the principle of primacy; the latter is called the principle of recency.

Culture shock means that old and the new cultures needs to be clarified and integrated. Au pairs are busy all day, and modern American culture (which they came to the United States to experience) fills the beginning and the middle of the day. Making a little time for “home meditation” at the end of the day helps keep the whole picture in focus.

Read Full Post »

brain parts

(Brain Parts, Public Domain,http://

Many times the determining factor for bringing an au pair into the family can be the need for special support for a child’s education. Brain science offers a new direction to help these challenged children—a direction that au pairs and Host Families may pursue together.

LearningRX is one helping organization based in brain science that is spreading across the United States. Their mission is to help families find and fix the deeper reasons their children are struggling to learn.

Au pairs and Host Families have long been engaged in academically tutoring their children. However, brain training and cognitive skills training focus on helping children learn to learn, rather than on particular academic  areas.

Moms, dads, and au pairs learn about their children by watching and listening at home. Does the child see and hear well? Does he or she process well? Brain science is more specific. For example, does the child not just process visual and auditory information, but process it efficiently?

To learn about cognitive skills training, you may like to visit http://www.LearningRX.com . For information on how au pairs can provide unique supportive services, you may like to visit http://www.goaupair.com.

Read Full Post »


(photos-public-domain.com, Public Domain Image)

Cultural au pairs often provide enrichment and learning experiences for their Host Children. Below is an activity that targets 1 of the 3 most common learning styles, visual learning.

Homemade Play Dough

Visual art is a creative learning experience for children. It doesn’t matter if they create a masterpiece according to adult standards. It simply matters that they are involved in creating with color and shape.

  • 1 ½ cups flour (use different kinds of flour if the child has food allergies)
  • ¾ cups salt (sea salt is plain, without additives)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (olive and coconut store for a long time)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  •  Natural food coloring to suit

Mix ingredients in a pan. Heat slowly until dough “forms.” Remove from heat and stir until the play dough has a “finished” texture. Store refrigerated in a resealable plastic bag.

Encourage the children to create figures and scenes, using different colors to make them realistic. Additional learning styles become part of this activity as the dough is kneaded (kinesthetic), and a story is told out loud (auditory).

Read Full Post »

English: Recreation of the flag of the city of...

Flag of the city of Allentown Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia, public domain)

Each local area representative (LAR) for Go Au Pair has a unique personality that shows in the content of his/her blog. The Go Au Pair Allentown blog is a model of practical information that begins at the top with a navigation bar leading to the Newsroom (topics of current interest, including reports and pictures of Family Days), U.S. Department of State Regulations (required to be followed by all cultural au pairs and Host Families) and U.S. locations where GoAuPair is active.

Two especially interesting videos are embedded in the Newsroom page. The first video features a local television discussion among Erin Mortensen (LAR for Utah), a host mom, and a Go Au Pair cultural au pair. The second video is a discussion with Go Au Pair’s International Director, Meghan Ramirez, regarding the benefits to families and au pairs alike who participate in the cultural au pair program.

Awards won by Go Au Pair, are also show-cased interactively.

Read Full Post »