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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

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

fractal

(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.

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brain parts

(Brain Parts, Public Domain,http://
http://www.molwick.com)

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.

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Ad for Pear' Soap

Ad for Pears’ Soap (Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

Au pairs originated in Europe after World War II, where they were called “oh pear” or “equal,” to reflect their status as family members rather than servants.

As “oh pears” have traveled around the world, different countries may pronounce their title a little differently (I recently overheard a Jersey accent saying “aw pear”), but their duties remain the same.

The following list comes from Wikipedia, and shows that au pairs (however you pronounce their title) are truly a bargain:

  •  waking the children
  • taking/collecting children to/from school
  • helping with school homework
  • playing with the children
  • taking the children on outings to parks, playgroups and other activities
  • preparing light meals for children
  • doing the children’s laundry and ironing their clothes
  • making the children’s beds
  • cleaning the children’s bathroom
  • keeping the kitchen tidy and clean, including sweeping and mopping the floors
  • light shopping

(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Au_pair )

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English: Red Pinterest logo

English: Red Pinterest logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

Go Au Pair ‘s Au Pair Sis can help.

Au pair Sis is a major resource for both au pairs and Host Families in the United States. Her videos pinned at Pinterest start with the process of matching and continue through details like filing taxes and traveling internationally, maybe to Canada?

Need to know something specific about your program year? Want to understand the au pair program before you sign up? Just curious?

She’s also on Google. “Be here. Be happy.”

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English: Au Pair

English: Au Pair (Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

In the 2010 statistics from the United States Census Bureau, 10-15% of total family income may be comfortably spent on childcare, and up to 25% may be spent from the income of a working mom (http://www.census.gov/hhes/childcare/data/sipp/2010/tables.html , Table 6). Some cultures spend a little more, and moms with a higher educational level may spend a little more. In dollars this often works out between $120 and $200 per week spent for 12-20 hours of childcare outside the home. Parents fit travel time and errands around that schedule.

A cultural au pair costs less than $10 per hour, works 45 hours a week, and provides live-in care. An ongoing estimate for weekly au pair costs is $340. Using the percentages from the Census Bureau, a working mom who hires an au pair may make about $4000 per month, if her income alone comfortably pays au pair costs (about 25%). Alternatively, the husband and wife  may both work and reduce the percentage of monthly childcare costs to 10-15% of their total income.

For a family in this demographic, what are the advantages of au pair care? There are many advantages—improved schedule, help with homework (tutors not required), help with a special needs child, childcare when they travel, driving support to children’s events, and the security of a federally supervised program that broadens the cultural experiences of the whole family. Additional children do not increase au pair fees.

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Flag of the city of Atlanta, Georgia

Flag of the city of Atlanta, Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

One of the links from the Go Au Pair blog for Atlanta, Georgia (a beautiful natural area, by the way) is to the Children’s Museum of Atlanta.

Younger children will enjoy a visit to this site. If you mouse over the heading, the girl and boy hiding behind the banner pull back and then come back out to smile at visitors. The website is designed interactively and in bright colors, with dropdown menus, a movie, and a box to sign up for the email newsletter. Lots of au pair ideas here!

While the activities on the museum page will easily capture the interest of younger Host Children, older children who are beginning to develop an interest in social networking on the internet (and their Host Moms and Dads who want to learn more about social networking and supervise their interest) may enjoy the link below to Engauge.com, the author of this website.

The Insights page (and other pages) at engauge.com offer a variety of high quality networking directions  that can be adapted for older Host Children.

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English: AuPairCare Au pair

AuPairCare (Photo credit: Wikipedia, Public Domain)

To many families the process of matching with and then receiving a Department of State cultural au pair into their home and family seems daunting—but there are many ways that Go Au Pair, one of the eight original au pair agencies approved at the beginning of the DOS program, can make the process easy.

Go Au Pair has nearly 300 au pairs (young adults between 18  and 26 years) around the world who have finished their training and are ready to match. If the au pair is in his/her native country, Go Au Pair’s international staff guides the process of completing the local embassy interview and acquiring the J-1 Visa needed to enter the United States. When the au pair is ready to fly to join his/her Host Family, the international staff coordinates with the Local Area Representative to make the process seamless.

Throughout the year of service, the au pair and the Host Family continue to be supported with necessary local information such as where and how to obtain a Social Security card and a driver’s license. Then, when it is time to return home, the international team springs into action again.

All of this planning  supports the making of wonderful memories for all concerned. Kids who have grown up with au pairs are different—in good ways.

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