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Interviewing a prospective caregiver for our children is one of the most critical tasks that we, as parents, can perform. Yet, in many cases, we devote little time and preparation to an endeavor that will have a significant and lasting impact on the growth and development of our children. The following suggestions may be helpful the next time you are faced with the challenge of finding a new caregiver for your children.
Begin the interview by allowing yourself and the candidate to introduce yourselves. You should then describe your family situation, child-rearing priorities, methods of discipline, and your children's routines. Throughout the interview process, you should cultivate a relaxed atmosphere to facilitate an open exchange.
After you have identified all of your requirements, start asking open-ended questions that will allow the caregiver to talk freely. An example would be, "You care for three children now, tell me about them." Don't be worried about silence after you ask such a question. It shows that she is thinking.
How she describes the children she has cared for and her relationships with them can tell you a lot about her feelings toward children, her ability to empathize and bond, and what type of children she feels most confident with. If she elaborates on particular incidents with children, you will gain insights into how she reacts and responds to different kinds of situations and problems. Ask her to specifically describe a problem she has had with a child. What she says will convey a lot about what she considers a problem, how she accepts responsibility, how she reacts under stress, her judgmental skills and her compassion.
Ask her to tell you something about her family and friends. Does she describe them lovingly, humorously? Does she have long-term relationships? What does she enjoy doing? How does she react to and cope with problems?
Ask her to describe activities and pursuits she enjoys. Is she an indoor or outdoors type? Has she pursued a challenging activity or sport? Is she cheerful? Is she open to new situations? This is your opportunity to assess the caregiver's characteristics and qualities against the needs of your children.
Ask her to describe herself. Is she a morning person (very important if she will care for your children early in the day)? Is she easygoing and flexible (a must if your children are very small)? Does she seem to understand and like herself?
Ask what motivates her to care for children. Does she really love children? Or are financial concerns the primary motivation?
Most importantly, always trust your "gut" feelings-those subjective feelings that we have in response to any person. Keep track of your internal reactions to the caregiver, especially if they fluctuate noticeably. For example, are you impressed with her one minute, then "put off" by another response the next minute? Later, when you are putting everything into perspective, try to identify the real reason for any negative reactions on your part.
Before concluding the interview, always ask for personal and work references. Take the time to call these references and speak with them, at length, about the caregiver.
The bottom line is that we, as parents, are ultimately responsible for the decisions that we make for the care of our children. Select a caregiver only after you have carefully considered your circumstances, expectations and needs against the personal qualities of the caregiver. Never rush your decision-it is one of the most important ones that you will make!
Since 1989, AuPairCare has sponsored au pairs from around the world, giving American families an opportunity to host an au pair from one of over 40 countries. As a busy parent, you will enjoy a better quality of life when your children have a nurturing and dependable caregiver. When you welcome an au pair from another country into your home, you not only have superior childcare, you expand your children’s horizons by introducing them to new cultures and traditions. No other type of childcare provides this unique opportunity—all in the safety and security of your own home.
An au pair is a young adult from another country who lives with your family and provides quality care for your children. Au pairs work up to 45 hours per week in exchange for the opportunity to live with an American family. All of our au pairs speak English and have been carefully screened and trained by AuPairCare.
Au pairs are flexible, live with your family for 12-24 months, and enrich the lives of your children through cultural exchange. The cost of hosting an au pair is often less expensive than other types of childcare. The AuPairCare program costs about $300/week (regardless of family size), including program fees and au pair stipend.
As an AuPairCare family, you are supported throughout the year by our national network of experienced, caring, professional staff. The Area Director assigned to your family will live locally and provide you, your family, and your au pair with personalized and proactive support.
Kathleen Edenzon is the Community Coordinator for AuPairCare, (www.aupaircare.com), a cultural exchange child care organization established in 1989. For more information, contact her at 908-428-7336 or email@example.com<.a>
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