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Nanny employers - WWYD re nanny and skill set

(17 Posts)
FeelBadPostingThis Tue 22-Oct-13 22:51:27

We have a nanny for our nearly 3 year old who will be going to school next September. Our nanny has been with us for over a year. She is loving and kind, cares well for DD and DD is fond of her. To date the arrangement has largely worked well and I know DD is well looked after.

But there is a but. Our Nanny's written English is really quite bad and I don't think her maths is up to much either. I didn't know this before I hired her although to be fair I didn't take any steps to find out as I wasn't really focussing on the point. English is her first language. Emails are in text speak. Written notes will normally have basic spelling and grammar mistakes in them. I've given up asking her to do a tally for the kitty due to the number of errors she was making.

Our schooling options are quite limited and DD is likely to end up in a not great state primary and we will be looking to try and move her at age 7 to a selective private school if we think she has the aptitude. For which she will be tested and will need to be performing very well and, I understand from people who have been through it, will need to well prepared.

Both DP and I work long hours so we need to be able to rely on the nanny to take the lead during the week on homework and any basic coaching - learning spellings, basic sums and so forth. We can do some at the weekend but I don't think that in itself will be enough. Which makes me wonder whether we've got the right nanny for when DD is at school. Even if we don't want to go down the 7+ route, the idea of having a nanny for a school aged child with poor basic reading/maths skills makes me twitchy.

Clearly this is not an immediate problem but one I want to start thinking about as I am a planner. Of course loads of things could happen to change the facts but it is starting to prey on my mind. Our nanny talks about our position as a long term one for her so I don't think she is intending to leave any time soon. We pay her pretty well and she seems happy when we talk about how things are from her angle.

Our previous experience of recruiting suggests that it would not be too hard to get someone with more of an education focus. Whereas I think our nanny's key strengths are more with babies and toddlers and I think that is what attracted us to her when recruiting.

If we did want to move on from using this nanny we would of course follow all appropriate legal processes and provide her with plenty of notice. I appreciate there are legal considerations but I've got those covered.

So in my position would you consider changing nannies at some point down the road or keep the one I've got, assuming I have the choice?

LittleBairn Tue 22-Oct-13 22:56:04

As an ex Nanny yes I would change Nanny. I considered it part of my job to be able to assist the children with their educational development, at the very least a nanny needs good basic English and Maths skills.

OutragedFromLeeds Tue 22-Oct-13 23:13:48

I wouldn't change nanny until it becomes a problem.

If she's not 3 yet, then she'll be going to nursery not school in September. IME they don't do any formal learning in nursery and even in reception it's mostly very, very simple maths and learning phonics.

It's likely not to be a problem for another 3 years, by which point you probably won't need a full time nanny anyway if you only have the one child. A childminder, afterschool club, au pair or after school nanny will probably be better suited (and you can spend the money you're saving on a tutor if need be).

How is she with 'educational' play? Does she read and sing with your DD? Count? Talk about shape and colour? Provide opportunities for writing/mark making?

NomDeClavier Wed 23-Oct-13 10:21:33

I think unless you are prepared to pay a FT salary you will find it hard to retain a nanny when your DD goes to school. Better pay over the odds for a good after school nanny than change now unless you're within the 2 year cut off for redundancy. It may be difficult to make nanny redundant because you don't feel her literacy and numeracy are up to scratch.

FeelBadPostingThis Wed 23-Oct-13 12:47:23

We are expecting to keep a FT nanny on when DD goes to school - our jobs combined with location, transport and lack of other options for sick/holiday cover are likely to make it hard to step down the care we need until she is much older. Which in some ways makes it more important that if we are paying through the nose that we get the right skills. Appreciate that a FT job with charge at school is not a job every nanny wants.

So really I think the point for me is (employment law issues aside) - would a long term stable carer be better than switching at an appropriate point with someone who can provide better educational support?

FeelBadPostingThis Wed 23-Oct-13 12:50:20

Outraged, in terms of what you're calling educational play these is probably quite a bit of stuff that falls into that. To issue is more when it gets more writing/maths focused I think she may struggle more.

NomDeClavier Wed 23-Oct-13 13:07:59

In that case you need to look at how well current nanny is supporting DD's current educational needs, which admittedly are fairly basic but if she knows colours, numbers, shapes etc and has all the personal care side of school readiness (putting in shoes and coat, going to the toilet etc) then she'll do better at school. The other consideration is that some nannies are great at baby/toddler stage but not so good with older children and some are ideal for ages 3+ but would really struggle with meeting the needs of a 2 year old/potty training etc.

Equally if 7+ prep is your aim you ideally want someone with experience of preparing for assessments (be that 3,4 or 7+) you may not find someone with that now willing to commit now for 4 years.

School entry would be a natural break, and I know you say you've got the employment law side covered but for me it would be a consideration.

bearsmum123 Wed 23-Oct-13 13:25:01

Have you considered reducing her pay as she will have so much more free time during the day?
I'm sure what you will save could pay a tutor?
I had one child in my care from baby to school, when he went to school I picked up another part time post local to him and the families did a nanny share.
There will still be so much more to a primary school child's care than just needing an educator, down time is essential especially in reception and year 1.

OutragedFromLeeds Wed 23-Oct-13 13:28:20

I think there are a lot of 'what ifs'. It's likely not to be a problem for another 3 years. I know you said you like to be organised, but I think you're looking too far into the future.

What I was getting at with the educational play question was, is the nanny aware of what she needs to be doing to help DD attain educationally? If she is then it matters less that she herself isn't academically able (maybe due to dyslexia or something?). If she encourages and motivates DD with her school work that's half the battle. She can help DD with spellings and times tables etc. if she has them written down in front of her, it doesn't actually matter that she can't spell them! If her attitude to education is poor, then you have a problem imo.

I would be reluctant to get rid of a nanny solely because she's not an academic high achiever. If she loves DD and DD loves her, if she is reliable and hard working, if she keeps DD safe and happy I would try and find a way around the homework issue.

ecuse Wed 23-Oct-13 14:10:46

If you switch now and get someone better qualified with the spelling/maths you won't be able to guarantee that whoever you get will be as committed to the long term as your current person appears to be. So you might end up with more than one change. I would wait to see whether it resolves itself (by e.g. your current nanny leaving naturally) and if not then switch in a few years when necessary to start giving homework support etc.

superzero Wed 23-Oct-13 16:06:50

As a parent of a 4 year old I would say that in reception,that level of education is going to be fine for whatever homework they have to do so for now, if they are otherwise good, keep them.Any homework they get takes about 5 minutes and apart from swimming once a week, all he is capable of doing after school is playing and watching cbeebies until tea time.
I think there are redundancy requirements that kick in after employing someone for 2 years so think about those.
There are other things like after school Kumon lessons for maths and English that a nanny could take her to when she is 5 that may get round your problem.

FeelBadPostingThis Thu 24-Oct-13 10:16:24

Thanks. You're right in that it isn't something to stress over now as she is a good nanny for today's needs. So I need to relax a bit. But it is also clear that she is not who I would pick of hiring a nanny for a bright 6 year old if I want education to be a focus. So we will either need to work around it or make other arrangements. And it may be all academic as she may move on too.

I don't think she is dyslexic but can't be sure. I just think that she isn't terribly academic and didn't get a good education. But then I spent all my work time with very highly educated people so my perception of normal may be off.

Thanks everyone.

LittleBairn Thu 24-Oct-13 10:51:18

I would reccomend getting a new Nanny in as early as possible changing Nanny just as she starts school will be stressful, it's a lot of change for your DD. It would be best that they has a strong bond well in advance of school.
I have just had two of my old charges begin school this August I spent some time each day in the year leading up to school preparing them for phonics and early maths this is every bit as important as homework in reception.

Chrisbenedict Thu 24-Oct-13 12:34:49

Quote “If she's not 3 yet, then she'll be going to nursery not school in September. IME they don't do any formal learning in nursery and even in reception it's mostly very, very simple maths and learning phonics.”

I am in agreement.
There is no need for formal learning.
At a later stage, if you wish, hire a tutor who can fill the role of both a teacher and mentor in a private household as well as organize and keep the children’s daily schedule.
For now, if you trust your nanny and think she is the 'perfect' nanny, then let her stay.

anewyear Sun 27-Oct-13 14:41:43

Sorry i know little about employing a Nanny, But did you not see/ask to see her CV? Or do people not put exam grades on them anymore? Or do family just take previous references from Nanny?
Has nanny ever said anything to you with regard to how she sees her own Maths and English?
I just wondered if, for her own benefit, she would perhaps consider evening class in GCSE (or whatever they're called nowadays) Maths & English.
Perhaps its a suggestion you could make if you get on well with her.
Just a few thoughts i had

LifeTooShort Tue 29-Oct-13 19:13:48

She may surprise you. I would describe our nanny's numeracy and literacy the same way, but I have been amazed at how brilliant she has been working with my 3 year old twins on phonics, numbers etc.

We were chatting the other day about how they teach reading in school and she casually mentioned that during her training she had spent 6 months assisting in reception and Y1, and she was the person who primarily did the one-to-one reading with the children. So, it turns out, she is vastly more experienced than I am in this area, and also a heck of a lot more patient that me, and my DTDs have really benefited as a result.

I think once we get to 7+ it might be pushing it, but that is 4 years away and if my nanny stays that long I'll be delighted but surprised!

Fridayschild Wed 30-Oct-13 21:48:30

I had the same issue but my experience will not help you much! Our lovely baby-focused nanny got pregnant and left. Her replacement is much better in terms of academic support though she knew nothing about potty training as Dc2 was the first charge she had ever had who was still in nappies.

In reception you need someone who will spend time helping DD learn her words at home, rather than making fairy cakes/ whatever. She might also need to practice forming letters as part of handwriting. This can all be a game but your nanny needs to know this is what you want her to do, and to actually do it even though she can think of other games which are more fun.

You are right to plan ahead for selective entry at 7+. Some schools can be ultra competitive and standards really high at that age. If you are determined to plan now, I suggest you speak to the schools about entrance requirements.

Remember too that your DD will be sitting the entrance tests in probably Jan of year 2 for year 3 entry. If you need to be compensating for the school as well, maybe the end of reception is the time to look for another nanny? If you are able to pay a bit over the odds you may well find you can get someone who is a qualified teacher to nanny for you. We looked at some at the time, but they did have higher salary expectations and at that time there appeared to be no shortage of nanny jobs.

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