An Interview with 12 Nannies who have been through formal nanny training programs. by Glenda Propst
Today’s interview is with 12 professional nannies. All of these nannies have gone through different professional nanny training programs and have varied specialties and unique qualities.
I have included myself in this interview because I have always been a strong advocate of education for professional nannies. I thought that you would find it interesting to find out how these nannies felt about their training 2-25 years after it was over.
The nannies in this article are
Kim: A professional nanny in New Jersey for 23 years.
She went to the Sheffield School in 1986, has worked for 6 families and her average time on the job was 5 years.
Buffi: A professional nanny in California. She went to the Nanny Institute of Van Nuys in 1989.
She has been a nanny for 20 years, has worked with 6 families and her time on each job was anywhere from 4 months to 8 years.
Mary Ann: A professional nanny for 24 years who has worked all over the country. She attended the Northwest Nanny Institute in Lake Oswego, Oregon in 1990. She is currently working in Michigan caring for triplets. She has worked with 9 families and each job has lasted about 2.5 years.
Sarah: A professional nanny in Georgia. She attended the Montana’s Nannies Training Program in 2002. She has been in the field for 8 years and has worked mostly in nanny share positions. She has had 5 positions with 8 families. She is in a nanny share situation so families sometimes rotate in and out.
April : A professional nanny in Michigan has been in the field for 2 years. She attended the English Nanny and Governess School in Cleveland, OH.She was with her first family for 3 months and has been in her current position for 18 months.
Row: A nanny in Dallas. She attended the English Nanny and Governess School in Cleveland, OH. in 1992.She has worked for 6 families as a full time nanny. When her last nanny position ended she became a new born specialist caring for newborns and working as a night nurse. She was with 6 families as a day nanny and has worked with 15 families as a Newborn Care Specialist. Her day positions lasted from 6 months -5 years.
Her newborn jobs last from 2 weeks -3 months.
Susan: A professional nanny for 25 years. She went to the St. Louis Child Day Care Associations’ Nanny Training Program in 1984.She has worked for 8 families; some of these were nanny share situations. Her jobs have lasted from a few months to 6 ½ years.
Gael Ann: In Boston has worked in the field for over 24 years. She attended the National Academy of Nannies (NANI) in 1986.She has worked with 6 families over a range of 3 -8 years. She has been in her current position for 2 years.
Sheila: Is in Tennessee has been in the field for 21 years. She attended the American Nanny Plan at Claremont College in Claremont, CA in 1988. She has worked for numerous families in shorter term positions for anywhere from 3 months to 1 ½ years.
Glenda: Working in St.Louis, MO has been a professional nanny for 25 years. She went to the St. Louis Child Day Care Associations’ Nanny Training Program in 1984. She has worked with 2 families. Her first family for 8 years and her current family for 16 years and counting.
Myrna: in Washington D.C. went through Starkey’s SNAP (Starkey Nanny Advanced Placement Program) after working in the field for about 10 years.
I asked each of the nannies to answer at least some of the 20 questions that I sent them.
Do you have a specialty?
Buffi. Tends to work with children who have special needs. Previously she worked with a child who had Juvenile Diabetes. Currently she is working with a child who has cochlear ear implants.
Mary Ann works with children birth to age 5 but she does have experience with school age children.
Sarah typically works with nanny shares.
April doesn’t really have a specialty but her current employer thinks that she is a potty training pro.
Row has been working as a Newborn Care Specialist for the last 3 years.
Susan is a CPDA-certified Positive Discipline Associate.
Gael Ann specializes in infants through 5 years
Sheila also specializes in infants through 5 years.
Glenda specializes in long term positions. Staring with a child at birth and staying with a growing family.
Myrna specializes in working with families in crisis.
What made you decide to go through a formal training program? Had you worked as a nanny before?
Kim: I had been babysitting for several different families and my father found an article in the paper about the Sheffield School. He convinced me that if this was really what I wanted to do with my life, I should go to school for it.
Buffi : I was in High School but I was doing a lot of babysitting. The commercials were very convincing.
Mary Ann :I had already been working as a nanny but I wanted to be one of the best and I wanted to learn the answers to the questions people were always asking me. My parents are both educators and while I felt I knew a lot about caring for kids I knew I could learn more. We researched nanny schools and picked one of the nation’s top rated schools, I thought nanny school would be pretty easy and instead it was intense and I was surprised how much more I learned and how many more things I found out I could learn about.
Sarah: I had been a nanny for about 6 months before I took the started the nanny training program. I thought that it would help move me up the ladder in the nanny industry and set me apart from other nannies. I was also taking early childhood classes through a university, but I thought a certificate from a nanny training program would give me skills specific to being a nanny and working in a private home.
April: I was a senior in college and ENGS was at a job fair I attended, I did not realize until then that people could be nannies, when I told my best friend and my mom about it, they knew it was for me. I have always loved kids but hated the politics of being a teacher. At the time I was not sure what was need to be done to be a nanny, so I figured that would be a way to get my foot in the door.
Row: I had worked for 4 part time families and one full-time family.The situation with the full-time family was terrible I knew I loved the work but that there had to be a better way. I was hoping nanny school would help me prepare for interviews and dealing with the family when things were not all rosey.
Susan: No, but did lots of childcareI thought it would give me a leg up in the field. ? Before nanny school I was in college- Home Economics/Family Services
Gael Ann: No, but had extensive babysitting experience, had completed a high school/college training program (350 hours of child care aide training) and had worked 3 years in the day care field.
Why did you decide to go through a formal training program?
Remembering that this was almost 25 years ago and the job of “Nanny” as a career was in its infancy in this country, I wanted to be taken seriously by employer families and my own family and friends. A vocational training program instead of college was a more acceptable option (especially in my family) back then. I was not even sure of the job description of a Nanny and wanted to be the best I could be. I knew I would need placement assistance which was advertised as a plus when I investigated the two Nanny school mentioned in a issue of Women World magazine I happened to pick up at the grocery check- out counter one day. (Coming from small western towns in Colorado and Kansas there were no placement agencies that I was aware of at the time.)
Sheila: Our local YMCA had offered a nanny course that I took and I wasn’t all that impressed with it. I felt that there had to be more to being a nanny, a nanny training course than what this program was. I started to do some research and came across The American Nanny Plan. I felt the program offered a well rounded. It included First Aid/CPR, Communication, how to throw a party, sewing among other things and actual hands on experience with children.
Glenda : I was a Child Care Center Director. I was looking for a change in my life and I read an article about the Nanny Training Program. I felt like if I was going to do this, I better do it the right way.
Myrna : I wanted to move up to a higher client base and salary structure.
How long was the nanny training program that you attended?
Kim 3 months
Mary Ann: 6 months
Sarah: 6 months
April :3 months
Row: 3 months and then an additional 3 months of paid internship.
Susan: 3 months with 2 practicum. One in home and one center based.
Gael Ann: 6 months and then 3 months on the job training with an approved family. During this time we were also required to attend weekend workshops.
Sheila: 3 months
Glenda : 3 months with 2 practicum. One in home and one center based.
Myrna: 50 intense hours in one week
Do you feel that your formal training has helped you as a professional in the field?
Buffi: Yes, because I truly learned real life applications for my career, and no because it did nothing to help me secure a job.
Mary Ann :NNI was so well rounded in the subjects from nutrition, development, interpersonal skills, contracting, professionalism, organization, music, science, activity planning, and so much more. I went to nanny school as a glorified babysitter and came out a budding professional with a thirst to further my knowledge about all areas of my profession.
Sarah: Yes. Parents see that I am serious about my career because I have been through specialized training.
April: I think that formal training was helpful with contracts and paperwork but I have always loved working with children and my child development classes in college were equally helpful.
Row: Formal training was helpful in dealing with parents recognizing that my life is just as important as the job. The actual certification hasn’t helped me much in my job search but part of that is the location where I chose to work.
Gael Ann : It was something that parents were impressed with during the interview process.
Glenda: Yes because I feel that it gave me extra insight into what the job would be like, and it also gave me tools, education and resources for dealing with what came up in the job on a daily basis. I might not always know the answer, but I had resources to find it.
Myrna : Yes because it accomplished what I had hoped, which was to help me step up the career ladder?
Do you think you would have stayed in this field if you had not gone through formal training?
Mary Ann: I am not sure. My parents really wanted me to finish college and nanny school somehow made being a nanny a legitimate job option. The grounding nanny school gave me has helped me work my way up in this profession and helped me become who I am. If I had finished college I think I would still be working with children in some aspect but I am not sure I would enjoy life as much.
April: I don’t think I would have known where to look for jobs without the school. I also would not have understood the need to professional, the importance of being legal and having a work agreement.
Row: The formal training kept me in the field. In the beginning it helped me see that it really could be a career not just a stepping stone to something else.
Glenda: My training is what helped me survive. It sustained me when times got tough.
Can you name 3 specific ways that nanny training helps you on the job during the interview process or even in your day to day life?
Kim: The interview process, communicating with a family and asking for what I feel I deserve .
Buffi: I’m able to look at different milestones and understand what they mean and what comes next, I learned that using positive reinforcement works for me instead of actual punishment. During interviews I used to bring a “nanny bag” with different toys to entertain the children which seemed to impress prospective employers.
I have a solid confidence that I know what I am doing and I am willing to research what I do not know instead of just trying to work it out, potential employers frequently appraise my schooling as a skill set that places me ahead of other candidates, my training threw lots of situations at us and made us think on our feet in all situations to know how to handle things we encountered and that is a skill I can appreciate on a daily basis.
Sarah: To this day I still consult my nutrition book to get ideas on different foods to try out with children; there are some discipline techniques that I use that I learned from one of the classes; and parents set me apart from other nannies because I do have specialized training.
April: It helped me build my portfolio, it taught me how to interview, and it taught me creative games and things to do with kids
Susan: It gave me more confidence to know that I was knowledgeable. It gave me a certification that others did not have which gave me a leg up in the market. Assertiveness Training was very helpful in negotiating contracts.
Glenda: My training gave me confidence that even if I didn’t have the answers, I had the resources to find them. It gave me a sense of pride about the job that I was doing. It gave me a strong foundation upon which to build my skills and expand my education.
If a person wants to work as a nanny and can’t afford nanny school, what do you think are the most important classes she should take to help prepare? And what else should they do to prep for this field? And what is your best tip?
Buffi: I think that taking classes at a local community college is just as effective. There are also programs now online that are affordable compared to the program I went too. Walden offers a dual concentration infant/toddler bachelor degree for $4700. The course is 4 years, 3 months for the degree and you can obviously work and educate yourself as well. Other things you can do: join local support groups, read the different childcare related books, subscribe to parenting magazines. Overall learn patience. It will take you the farthest.
Mary Ann: CPR & 1st Aid are always a given. I would say take some new parents classes, look into community education programs, read a lot of books and find a mentor to discuss things with and ask questions of, and get some hands-on experience (work at a day care, get a mother’s helper job, volunteer in your church nursery, or shadow another nanny for a few weeks).
You have to take care of yourself to have enough to give to take care of someone else’s children all day!
Child development classes are always beneficial as they will teach you how to relate to and work with different types of children. Any classes on early childhood curriculum planning would also be beneficial as you can learn many ideas of different types of projects and activities that you can do with young children.
Seek out free classes in your area if you can. Stores like the Lakeshore Learning store have free classes throughout the year that you can attend on topics on anything from discipline; to stories, songs, and fingerplays; to helping children deal with stress that can be extremely beneficial in your job as a nanny.
April: I think the most important class you can take is about child development and milestones that they should be hitting, I still look at the things I have about that.
Listen to people around you, I have gotten some great lessons from other nannies that have worked in the field longer then I have.
Row: I feel one of the best is an Assertiveness Training class. Nannies tend to be pleasers and many of us put our families needs before ours. I think which classes in child development then depend upon what age she prefers to work with. I also think a class on finances or budgeting would be great! I can’t count the Live-In nannies I know that end up in debt, my (former) self included 🙂 And what else should they do to prep for this field? The most important thing is to truly enjoy the ages of children that you work with. Also decide where you will draw the line between work and personal life.
Nanny because you love the work and find it rewarding not just because “it is an easy job” or because you can’t find anything else
Gael Ann: If course child development classes are very important but also experience working with children in a variety of settings and wide range of ages to help determine what type of Nanny the young person is/could be ( ranging from mothers helper to full charge) and what ages they enjoy most/least would help when trying to find a position . Classes that deal with communication would be very valuable too.
A great mentor could help with contract writing, negotiations, and all the area specific to working in a private home and give them a sounding board for dealing with whatever might come up.
Glenda: Work to educate yourself, take classes, go to workshops, read books, read magazines, network, make connections to other professionals, join professional organizations, find a mentor, talk to others who have more experience than you do, listen and learn.
Learn to communicate, learn the realities of what the nanny profession is really about and never stop working to grow and improve yourself.
I would like to thank these ladies for their input for this article.
For me, I think that my formal nanny training was very helpful in my first years as a professional nanny. You have to remember that 25 years ago, nannies did not have the wonderful resources that they have now for educating themselves and expanding their professional knowledge base.
The bottom line is that we should all be working everyday to improve our professional skills.
How do you improve your professional skills and knowledge?
One thought on “Monday Moxie: Professionally trained Nannies”
Thank you for an excellent compilation of nanny schools, It is unfortunate that most of the schools no longer exist. English Nanny & Governess School of Chagrin Falls Ohio, founded in 1984, is proud to have graduated both the 2012 and 2011 International Nanny Association” Nanny Of The Year”. The school places Certified Professional Nannies and Governesses throughout the world.
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