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If you have an au-pair looking after younger school age children, how do you manage homework?

15 replies

Issymum · 05/02/2007 14:24

We currently have a Kiwi nanny for the DDs (4.5 and nearly 6). Towards the end of this summer our nanny will be leaving and DD2 will be starting school full-time. As both girls will effectively be out of the house from 8am until 4pm we're thinking of recruiting an au pair or au pair couple rather than a nanny. I'm just not sure what we'll do about homework. Our current nanny is an ex- KS1 teacher, so helping DD1 with her reading and spelling homework is 'falling off a log' stuff. But if we have an au pair for whom English is a second language, I don't see how she can help with homework, particularly for DD2 whose homework will all be about phonics, sounding out etc.

DH is always home by 6pm, but that's way too late to start homework and with an 8am departure for an 8.30am start, the mornings are too rushed for homework.

How does anyone else manage this? We're thinking of trying to find a student, mother with older children, retired teacher who could just do homework. Has anyone tried this? It's a relatively small thing - homework for DD2 should be 15 minutes and I for DD1 I guess a bit longer - but it could very easily fall apart. Also it must be said that the DDs' school is rather, shall we say, enthusiastic about homework being completed, so a rather attractive slacker approach of getting a bit done at the weekends is not viable.

OP posts:

Issymum · 05/02/2007 14:51


OP posts:

Oati · 05/02/2007 14:54

we always do ours after 6pm - ds2 is in Reception


CountessDracula · 05/02/2007 14:55

you could get an English speaking Au Pair


Issymum · 05/02/2007 14:56

Thanks Oati. Maybe your DS is made of sterner stuff, by 6pm the DDs don't seem to be good for much other than Cbeebies or hyper-manic rushing around. I guess we could start experimenting with 6pm homework now and see whether it's feasible.

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Issymum · 05/02/2007 14:59

Thanks CD too. That would indeed be ideal, but I think they are harder to come by. Maybe a South African or a Canadian? But not many of them are happy to do an 'au pair' job as opposed to a full nanny job.

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Oati · 05/02/2007 15:00

mine ( 5 and 7) chill out, fight watch TV etc between 3.30pm and 5pm. Tea at 5pm. Homework after, or idf I forget homework just before bath and bed ( 7.30pm ish)

and if I forget that.....

they do it in the morning


Anchovy · 05/02/2007 15:03

Issymum, we do have a nanny who does DS's with him after school and we do some with him after DD goes to bed, but mornings are my recommendation, particularly when we had the phonics to do.

I get Ds and Dd up at 6.45am, DH and I are showered, lenses in and make up on (well, me anyway!) but I just put my pjs back on after the shower. We always all have 30 mins in bed together talking about the day ahead, reading, singing songs, bit of jostling between the DCs etc before I take them up and get dressed and DH makes breakfast. Quite often we do the homework of phonics and basic reading in that 30 mins in bed - they are much more amenable at that stage than in the evening, and if you catch them when they are amenable it really only takes 10 minutes.

DH and I are out of the door at 8am and the children 8.10am.

Obviously it helps if (i) all you have to do dresing-wise is put on a black trouser suit; and (ii) you look like Ruth Kelly so pride in your appearance is a waste of effort.


Judy1234 · 05/02/2007 15:05

Tell the au pair to make them do their homework. It won't be too hard for someone to help with. It will help her improve her English. It will be basic reading of books she can understand - The cat sat on the mat etc and even any English or maths she can make them sit and do and anyway I don't do chdilren's homework for them - the task is to get them to sit at a chair and do it themselves. If the parents are doing it there's something wrong. What you most want is osmeone with the ability to require a child to do something it doesn't want to nicely - that's the skill not the ability to understand the work.


Issymum · 05/02/2007 15:34

OK looks like there are four options here: 1. do the homework when we get home 2. do the homework in the morning 3. get an English speaking au pair 4. get a non-English speaking au pair to do the homework. Or maybe a combination of one or more of them.

This is reassuring that we should find something that will work, without bringing in somebody just for homework. Or at least we'll try all these before we resort to doing so.

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Hulababy · 05/02/2007 15:37

DD (4y10m) does her reading homework after 6 most days. We have dinner together at 6:30pm, and reading after that. We do the playing/relaxing stuff before dinner.


uwila · 05/02/2007 16:11

Issy, I think it's quite easy to find an english speaking au pair. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or even... England.

Check out There are loads.


Bink · 05/02/2007 16:17

I nearly agree with Xenia's bluntery. Unless you have a child with language difficulties (which is why we've stuck with native English speakers) an au pair of the right sort (ie bright/willing/keen to learn, in all areas of life) should be fine with homework, even if her own spoken/written English is not perfect. And it may well even have benefits for her - all that lovely spelling practice ...


Issymum · 05/02/2007 16:25

"Xenia's bluntery" Although I nearly agree with Xenia too. In fact, I quite often nearly agree with Xenia!

OK, I'm sold. One way or another this is not going to be an issue. I think part of the problem is that, because our current nanny is a 'resting' KS1 teacher, homework has acquired more importance than it deserves. It's become something to be completed with considered professionalism and focus rather than blundered through as one more of life's little annoyances.

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Judy1234 · 05/02/2007 16:47

I wish they did more with their part time nanny but we have a reasonable compromise. She does the written homework with them. I hear the reading. Last year she wrote out the spellings and they did that but they aren't this year. But then I haven't bothered to ask her. They could do their music practice with her but don't. Again that's my fault because I haven't insisted on it.


indiajane · 05/02/2007 19:59

Hi, I've had a couple of German Aupairs, and their English was easily easily good enough to provide the necessary supervision for the DC's homework. If you advertise on Aupair-world, you can make really good english one of the criteria you're looking for.

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