[tweetmeme source=”FrenchNad” only_single=false]For many international host families, with summer being the arrival season for most au pairs (particularly European and Central American), their au pair may have arrived in the middle of family vacations, summer camps and other activities planned for the children. Although it is a great time for the au pair to get to know the family and feel comfortable with caring for the children, the transition back to the school routine will affect him/ her too. It will be important for host parents to take the time to set expectations and train them for the transition.
Host parents can explain what a normal routine is like, explain the typical schedule, household chores required while the kids are at school (and while the au pair cares for a pre-schooler possibly) and how the children’s school normally functions. Especially with dual-working parents, the au pair may be the main point of contact between the school teachers and the parents, so it is important to explain the level of communication usually expected when dropping off/ picking up the children. Most importantly, parents may clarify that the school-year does not mean less work for the au pair, but simply an adjustment to a different schedule and maybe some evenings if additional hours are available.
Keeping in mind that their local school system may differ greatly from their au pair’s home country or another State, it is important for host parents not to take anything for granted. During school orientation, the au pair can familiarize herself with the school location, access, meet the teachers, understand homework requirements and the types of materials and projects the kids will be expected to review and complete. It is also important for the teacher to understand the type of help that is available to support their students after school, especially with a second language they may be learning this year.
The au pair’s training should also include locating the bus stop or which way she will need to accompany the kids by foot, or drive them to school. Especially with heavy traffic, safety will remain the focus of that training, whether behind a wheel or around a bus. The children should come along and also understand they need to remain very cautious around vehicles and crossing streets.
Back-To-School Family Party
Another idea to get the whole family prepared for the big day and the new routine, is to plan a back-to-school family party with their au pair as a surprise for the children. The party could include fun crafts such as decorating their school notebooks, bracelets and fashion items they will wear at school or putting together a scrapbook of the fun memories shared during the summer. This will help the children to look forward to back-to-school and understand that while that time is approaching quickly, they can look forward to it and they will have the support of their parents and their au pair.
Finally, on the big day, parents can ensure they are more present and involved in getting everyone ready, creating a special memory with a picture as they are sending the kids off to school, putting a fun note in the children’s lunch bag and encouraging them to embrace their new routine. With adequate training for their au pair, s/he will be ready to step in and provide all the additional help parents may need on back-to-school day and moving forward during the school year.