Just as hiring staff to your business should be a well planned meticulous process, it goes without saying that hiring staff to your home to care for your children must be even more stringent. From the educator’s perspective, asides from the general considerations to security and welfare, here are some useful tips to consider:
Young children (0-6) have a particular sensitivity to language. Their minds at this stage are like powerful sponges; absorbing what they need from their immediate environment. As they begin to master speech and develop their vocabulary, they will do so from the impressions around them. The responsibility of the adult is to support this development by providing a rich language environment. This does not mean your nanny must speak the Queen’s English but Pidgin is a ‘no-no’ as is the use of slang language. Children will immediately pick up and repeat this type of language. If your nanny’s English is not up to par, encourage her to speak her native dialect. Best your child acquires a different Language rather than ‘bad’ English which can be notoriously difficult to correct.
If you have a nanny who speaks English at a good standard, do encourage her to always use proper words in naming things for the child; ‘air-conditioner’ rather than a/c, ‘remote control’ rather than ‘remote’. Proper naming goes a long way in helping the child improve their vocabulary. Children do not need you to mirror their efforts and ‘babble’ back at them or use ‘baby language’ in communicating with them. They look to adults around them to supply them with as examples of excellence with which to develop their skills. [READ: Does Your Nanny Need A Break?]
Remember that if a nanny is to speak a different language, she must be consistent in doing so; otherwise the child will simply pick up the dominant language used.
As adults many of us come into jobs with various cultural beliefs and practices. However, adults working with children must be able to examine these and ensure they do not negatively impact on the children they care for. A prime example is phobia; some do not like certain animals such as birds or cats. When with children, our reactions to these experiences must be controlled. Lest the children invariably ‘absorb’ these and our fears/anxieties are immediately ‘transferred’ to them. This type of negative energy should not be exhibited in front of children in their care.
Majority of early years practitioners are in agreement that children of this age learn best through activity. Any nanny that is with children of this age must therefore be able to promote and encourage activity; encouraging the child to play outside, paint, colour, help her tidy up, fold clothes etc. Any nanny whose idea of activity is to plonk a child in front of a television or i-pad is certainly not supporting the child’s natural development.
There are certain corner stones for learning that children can be encouraged to embrace at an early stage. Children who are helped to help themselves not only learn useful skills such as feeding and dressing themselves and independently using the bathroom. They also achieve immeasurable developmental aims including independence, improved co-ordination and even concentration. A child that is allowed to think through processes, make judgements and calculations based on experience, is developing logical thought; indispensable to learning. Every time a child is deprived of this opportunity, the child is deprived of an invaluable ‘learning’ experience. Even from birth, children yearn for independence. A most successful nanny will create supervised opportunities for a child to do as much as they can for themselves and guide him towards excellence. Modelling the correct way these activities should be done will encourgae independent effort. [READ: Consider This When Hiring A Nanny]
We allude here not to levels of physical attractiveness! but to a care of self that the child can relate to and be encouraged to mirror. A nanny who is slovenly in appearance, movement and speech does not inspire perfection in a child. On the contrary, one who is neat in appearance and bright in speech and manner encourages the child to emulate these worthy goals.
There are certain rules that underpin a successful civil society and any nanny that is able to reinforce this with the child, makes laudable effort. Basic reminders to the child to greet others, show respect for older people, pick up as much as they can after themselves, be encouraged to not hit others and treat others as they wish to be treated is to be commended.
The above mentioned tips should guide all adults working with children but whilst some of these tips are simple common sense, they are also principles that might need to be taught or reinforced to successful child care providers. A nanny hire who is able to incorporate all these principles would be a best case scenario. [READ: I Don’t Want A Nanny]
The responsibility of the parent then is to find ways to direct and train; to impress upon their nanny, the importance of these principles and work consistently with them to achieve them. Bring attention to the many developmental aims and responsibilities of the adults.
Bola Benson is the founder of Libra House Montessori Schol, Ikoyi. A graduate of the prestigious London School of Economics, she also has a diploma in Newspaper Journalism. Bola abandoned banking and most recently working in the Trade Development Section on at the British Deputy High Commission, to pursue her true calling and passion as an educator.
She retrained as a Montessori teacher at the premier Maria Montessori Training Institute in the UK in 2003 and is an AMI Certified Diploma holder, with teaching experience in the UK. Bola has a hands on style and runs The Libra House herself supported by her qualified team of teachers..
Bola is married with five children.