Finding the Right Babysitter or Nanny

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge...Do I ask the neighbour's teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nannying Agency to answer all your questions.

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge…Do I ask the neighbour’s teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nanny Agency to answer all your questions.

 

Q. What should I look for in a babysitter?

A. Someone who is fun, responsible and reliable. The simple answer here is ‘someone who lines up with your values.’

Look for a babysitter who is fun, responsible and reliable. The simple answer here is 'someone who lines up with your values.'
Photo by Freepik

Q. I’m a bit nervous about leaving my child with a stranger, what can I do?

A. I feel you! I was very reluctant for a very long time to leave my precious little boy in the care of someone I hadn’t known for years. There are a few simple things you can do to help ease your nerves. First and foremost of course is to choose someone you trust! Let your babysitter know you are nervous and seek reassurance from them, a few comforting words should help you feel a bit better. Asking them to keep you updated with texts or photos may also put your mind at ease, you can see what your child is doing and (hopefully) see they are smiling and having fun.

If you aren’t in the position to choose a babysitter that you know and who knows your child well, using an agency can help. If your babysitter has been referred through a nannying agency, you can trust they have had a thorough background check completed. Mini Nanny Agency has been operating for 10 years so have thorough processes in place to match parents with carers. Knowing the process is thorough, choosing a babysitter you can connect with and relate to, as well as keeping clear lines of communication open will help ease your worry.

 

Q. How much should I expect to pay?

A. For a babysitter you’re looking at $20-$25 per hour. $25-$30 per hour is the going rate for experienced nannies while high school students might charge considerably less. The pricing would need to be discussed with your sitter and would depend on things such as experience level, household chores they might complete, the age of the children, whether the children would need to be transported to and from different locations, the number of hours and how regularly you would need the babysitter etc.

If you are using a nanny agency like Mini you can expect to pay $55 for a babysitter referral, which includes a thorough background check on the individual.

 

Q. What will they do with my children?

A. If you were hiring a babysitter during the day she might do craft activities with your children, take them to the park, cook with them, help them with schoolwork, play with play dough or engage them in imaginative play. It depends on what you have agreed upon before hand. Some nannies undertake house duties too. If your sitter will be putting your children to bed then you can expect her to follow the normal routine which you would have communicated with her.

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge...Do I ask the neighbour's teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nannying Agency to answer all your questions.
Photo by Freepik

Q. What about tricky issues; things like diet or discipline?

A. Making any dietary requirement, requests and rules clear from the beginning is very important. If your child has allergies, make sure you inform the babysitter. If you are a strict sugar-free household, make that clear too.

Discipline is a tough one! Perhaps you know your child will test the boundaries and display some rather challenging behaviours. The key here is to choose a babysitter you believe will be comfortable dealing with such behaviours. Warn her before hand and give her some strategies and suggestions you know (hope) work. Make it clear what you are comfortable with, what behaviours you are happy to let slide Follow up with any inappropriate behaviours your child may have displayed.

 

Q. Where can I find a babysitter?

A. There are a multitude of places you could find a sitter. Be mindful that you will be trusting this person with your children so be sure to do your homework. Nannying agencies can find the perfect carer for your child without you having to do the work. Michelle from Mini says, “agencies eliminate the time pressures. They know the industry inside out, have a good name and ultimately do a good job.” Trusted friends, family and neighbours are also great people to ask, perhaps they have people they use and recommended. If your child goes to day care some staff there might babysit after hours. You could also search on Gumtree or local Facebook pages. Just be certain you do a thorough check…..

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge...Do I ask the neighbour's teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nannying Agency to answer all your questions.
Photo by Freepik

Q. How do I ask for references without seeming rude?

A. Just ask. Your children are your most valued possession (for lack of a better word), no babysitter should be offended if you were to ask for references, they’d expect it! If you choose to use an agency, they will have done all the back ground checks for you and will provide you with all the references you need.

 

Q. What experience should my babysitter have?

A. This is totally up to you. If you want your ideal carer to have specific skills or experience then make that known from the beginning. If you’re asking for recommendations from friends, going through an agency or placing an ad, specify what you are looking for. If it matters to you that your babysitter be of a particular age, speak a particular language, has a background in teaching, is athletic or has experience working with babies or children with special needs then say so from the beginning.

Finding the right babysitter can be a bit of a challenge...Do I ask the neighbour's teenage daughter, find someone off Gumtree or use an agency to organise it for me? How do I ask for references? How much will it cost me? Worry not, I sat down with some of the lovely ladies from Mini Nannying Agency to answer all your questions.
Photo by Freepik

How do I select the perfect carer for my child?

Think about your top 3 must haves and consider this…what will keep them with your family long term? Is there a connection there or not (between you, the sitter and your kids)? If not then they may not be the right sitter for you.

 

Once you have settled on the right babysitter for your family trust them to do a great job and take the opportunity to enjoy some precious adult time for yourself!

 

What You Can Do at Home to Help Your Child Learn at School

There are many things, besides structured homework, you can do with your child to help their academic development that are incidental, don’t feel like ‘work’ and are fun for both of you.

In addition to making awesome Busy Bags 😉 I am primary school teacher with 8 years experience and currently work as a tutor so I know a thing or two about helping students learn outside the classroom.

Now that the school year is underway your child has probably come home with some kind of homework that they’re expected to complete. While I don’t love the idea of homework as a whole, the importance of reinforcing skills, particularly reading, cannot be underestimated.

You might find it hard to make time to do anything other than read with your child each night and the burden of homework might rest heavily on your shoulders. What ever you do though, please don’t ignore it completely. Provide your child with a quiet space for them to complete their reading and homework. If spending an hour a week sitting down with your child to work through their homework sounds too challenging, consider blocking out smaller amounts of time. Four 15 minute sessions is much easier to manage than one whole hour of uninterrupted learning.

Mother and daughter helping daughter with her homework

If you and/or your child are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of homework, please talk to their teacher, they may be able to work out some alternative arrangements.

There are many things, besides structured homework, you can do with your child to help their academic development that are incidental, don’t feel like ‘work’ and are fun for both of you.

Many of the recommendations below are suggestions I wrote in reports for my Year 1 students. They are simple activities that can be done in a stress-free way and may be of great help to your child.

 

Reading

  • Reading skills should be supported through nightly reading of the take home book. When reading with your child, encourage them to use different strategies. Help them to read for meaning by asking questions about the text. If a word does not make sense, suggest they re-read the whole sentence/passage to try and understand what the word might mean.
  • Borrow a variety of books from the library. You can check out levelled texts to correspond with the books they are bringing home from school but be sure to also borrow books that are of interest to them. Developing a love of reading opens up a world of possibilities.
  • Read a variety of texts together and at every opportunity. Read newspapers, brochures, menus, shopping lists, catalogues, information on TV adverts, cereal boxes etc. The more your child is exposed to different text types in real life environments, the more value they’ll see in learning to read.

Child holding a open book on white background

Writing

  • Provide your child with fun and entertaining opportunities to trace, colour and write. These activities should help to develop their fine motor skills, in turn leading to better letter formation and neater writing.
  • Practise letter names and sounds with your child by making play dough letters, writing with crayons in the bath or cutting out letter shaped cookies.
  • Help your child practise pronouncing, sounding out and spelling words they regularly use as well as new words they come across.
  • Place word lists in a position at home where they will be seen regularly. Practice reading and spelling from word lists, play games and identify sounds.
  • Encouraging them to write cards and journal entries gives a meaningful way to practise writing well punctuated sentences.
  • Encourage your child to practise writing detailed and interesting letters or postcards to friends and family. You might also consider giving them a scrapbook in which they could write, record thoughts and collect memories.
  • Use Flash cards of letters or common words to build familiarity and help your child to learn sight words.
  • Consider using magnetic letters on the fridge to form words and sentences.

 

Maths

  • Practice basic number facts through quizzes, flash cards and questioning when there are a few spare minutes, such as while preparing meals or during car journeys.
  • When opportunities arise, ask your child to assist you to work out real life problems modelling the solutions e.g. “If I we have 25 grapes to share between the 5 of us, how many will we each get?”
  • Support your child’s numeracy development and number fact recall by encouraging them to play board games like snakes and ladders and work through online math activities such as Mathletics*
  • Practise counting and mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) using counters, paddle pop sticks or beads. I have a large collection of Busy Bags targeting specific mathematical skills. You can find them here.
  • Find mathematical opportunities everywhere; add the digits on number plates, measure ingredients when cooking, read the time on analogue clocks, count down to events on the calendar, look for shapes and numbers to read in every day locations.
  • If your child is finding a concept challenging, borrow some books on that particular theme e.g numbers, colours, time.

School supplies with calculator

Mathletics and Reading Eggs

Most kids love having access to an iPad or computer and there are many great apps or programs that are both fun and educational. Reading Eggs and Mathletics/Mathseeds are paid programs but are definitely worth the investment. Your child can work through short, engaging lessons at their level and develop base level literacy and numeracy skills before building upon them. You might find your child already has access to these programs through their school. I highly recommend signing up for a free trial to see if you and your child likes the program. (After your free trial you will be offered a discounted rate to subscribe, though maybe not immediately so hold out a little while if you’d like to save a few dollars.)

 

It doesn’t need to be stressful or overwhelming when it comes time to help your child with academic learning outside of school. Hopefully you can see from the suggestions above that there are are plenty of opportunities to extend everyday activities to make them richer learning opportunities.

If you’re after more ideas and pre-prepared activities to help your child with their learning, head on over to Flying Sprout’s online store to browse the full range of fun and educational activities.

Give Our Students Roots and Wings

Words are powerful. They can transfer knowledge, provide comfort and motivate, plus we all know the negative impact they can have. Positive and encouraging quotes are a fantastic way to connect with students and can offer great guidance for teachers.

The name Flying Sprout was inspired by a great quote that is relevant for parents and teachers alike; There are two things we should give our children: one is roots and the other is wings. We can take this to mean many things but ultimately, as educators, it reminds us of the responsibility we have to provide our students with a strong base and opportunities to soar to the fullest of their potential.