There’s a certain balancing act we nannies must manage in the course of doing our jobs. We want to help mold and shape our young charges, but then at the same time, we know we should leave the big character development stuff to their parents and stick to the basics. Where’s a loving, caring nanny to draw the line? We can’t fully answer this question for you—you and your family will have to hammer out the fine details of that one yourselves—but there are a few “safe” areas in the middle where everyone can meet and agree. Let’s take a look:
Preparing meals and snacks for our kids is a big part of our job, and an important one, too. Childhood obesity has more than doubled over the past 30 years, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, and more than one-third of American children are currently overweight or obese. It’s vital we teach and model healthy eating habits to the kids we take care of. To do that:
- Take them grocery shopping with you. Talk about the benefits of low-fat or nonfat dairy products, lean meats, whole grains, fruit and veggies. Download the OurGroceries app to your smartphone for some high-tech shopping help.
- Have them help in the kitchen. Helping to prepare their own food will give them a sense of accomplishment, and they may be more apt to try something new if they had a hand in making it. Food Networkfeatures numerous recipes kids can help make.
- Show them that healthy eating can be fun and yummy. Let them dip their veggies in low-fat ranch, hummus, salsa or yogurt-based dressing; whirl up a delicious fruit smoothie in a juicer or blender. The NutriBullet system comes with a variety of nutritional recipes and is easy to clean, too.
Everyone in the house can agree that kids should help with the household chores—well, except the kids, of course. But there’s good reason to require chores from the kids you watch: According to a Wellesley College study entitled “Children’s Autonomy and Responsibility: An Analysis of Child-Rearing Advice,” chores help them develop into caring, grounded young adults, and a lack of household chores makes them less responsible in other areas of their lives. To get them involved:
- Make a chore chart. Pinterest has a great page on this topic, with a variety of printable chore charts, lists of age-appropriate chores and tips for making chores fun.
- Don’t insist on perfection, and don’t be shy with praise. You don’t want to make the whole affair into an anxiety-ridden struggle. Of course they have to do their best, but also remember that no one’s perfect.
- Be consistent. We know that sometimes it’s simply easier to do it yourself, but if they aren’t expected to follow through, they won’t.
Ready for some shocking facts about kids and literacy?
- Two-thirds of students who can’t read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare, and more than 70 percent of U.S. inmates can’t read above a fourth-grade level (One World Literacy Foundation).
- Kids who don’t read proficiently by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school (American Association of School Librarians).
- Fourth graders who have 25 or more books at home do better on reading tests than children who don’t have that many (National Center for Education Statistics).
Don’t wait to start reading to the children in your care. No matter what age they are, set aside time each day for reading, whether together or solo.Scholastic.com features six great reading apps for kids—give those a try.