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How to pick an au pair(18 Posts)
I know this topic has been done to death but....
I'm sorry I needed to ask for some advice. Sometimes there are lots of au pairs with childcare experience but other times there aren't. Has anyone had success with an au pair with no childcare experience?
What other qualities did you look for?
Thank you. I've had a few who've said that they babysat for their neighbours children, but I have no way of verifying that. I'll try to hold out for ones with a bit more experience. Or for the first time ever I may actually resort to an au pair agency.
I have 3 under 6s, and they can be so exhausting and trying that I thought the only way someone would be a) useful but also b) at all happy would be if they loved children. Also, I think if you don't know 2 year olds, they can be a bit of a shock. So I am on my second au pair, and chose people who had babysat / worked at children's camps etc. My current au pair wants to become a kindergarten teacher, and has a nephew who is the same age as my youngest.
I do think attitude is just as important though. If I had a candidate with no real experience but lots of siblings, who was v enthusiastic and warm and lovely with the girls on Skype, I would seriously consider him or her.
We've never had anyone with much childcare experience - mainly babysitting and I've never asked for childcare references. BUT, I'm around a lot of the time and I don't tend to leave our au pairs with the children for long stretches for the first month or so until I'm sure they know what they are doing.
Our have all been great with the children.
I tend to focus on finding a good match for our family - so independent, lots of drive, intelligent (we like them to have a degree/masters), plan for when they've finished, socialable. We also need a older driver with lots of driving experience, so that cuts our pool down. I just ensure they like playing with children and have some common sense.
Thank you all for your help.
Karoleann how do you measure common sense? ;-) I think I've lost trust in my instincts. I'm seriously thinking of getting my friend to vet them for me, once I wittle down the list. Do you check any references at all?
I think I'll try to be around a lot more for January too.
I do ask for a character reference or a work one.
Our current french au pair worked in sales before coming here so she had a work one.
The previous Italian one had one from teaching scuba diving.
Before that, I think she got one from her priest.
During the Skype interview I just ask a couple of questions to try and judge their common sense - usually
- What would you do if there was a fire? (you'd be amazed how many people say they'd try and put it out).
- What would you do if one of the children fell over and banged their heads.
I also get them to go on a first aid course when they get here - I've found one that is very practical, so our intermediate speakers can fully understand what's going on.
Just to add to dome of the very good advice above; when I have shortlisted a few candidates ai ask them to get police checks from their home country (this is an easy process and if they cant use google and common sense to organize this then I would worry) i also befriend them on social networking sites ( under the guise its so they can get to know us) and google them, you would be surprised what can come up. Look at what they post, it gives you a good idea what kind of person they are. Any unsuccessful candidates unfriend / block.
Also ask them what their plans are re making friends here, have they joined local au pair fb groups? Get them socializing before they arrive!
It is always better to choose someone that you like, that you can identify with, that has ideas and goals similar to what you were like at that age (i.e I was always a huge Music fan loved going to concerts, going to meet popstars at HMV signings etc when I was an au pair here, and my lovely au pairs have ranged from a singer to a one direction superfan, and have all been brilliant.) rather than looking solely at experience.
Ideally I look for an oldest sibling (built in childcare skills) who has lived away from home for minimum 1 year (not straight out of school) who speaks good english and is proactive with what she / he wants out of the year here.
I send them on a paediatric first aid course the first weekend they are here.
Also once you are recruiting for AP no 2 let the current AP do the second interview. You will find that the AP will be very protective of "her" children and will be just as picky as you are choosing a replacement. Also the prospective AP will ask very different questions which is great. Once AP 2 arrives ensure the two overlap so AP 1 can show AP 2 the ropes, and the children can get used to the idea of the change.
Thanks for all the advice.
HRHQueenMe Unfortunately au pair no.1 left after a year and I've made a couple of mistakes in recruiting since. I also don't have the space to allow for overlap.
Karoleann do you mind me asking how long you keep your au pairs for on average?
Usually 6 months, Most older au pairs don't seem to want to stay for longer than this, although current au pair is staying 7 as she wants to finish the term in her language class. Our next au pair is staying from just after Easter until just before Christmas (so 8 months)
I quite like it as the children then don't get too attached and it keeps enthusiasm levels up for both me and the au pair.
I'll try this. I've been looking for long stays because the idea of having someone new regularly scares me.
But I think I need to start thinking outside the box.
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