Monday, November 23, 2015
As our children grow up in an increasingly global society, it is more crucial than ever to provide them with exposure to other languages and cultures. Although most of us do not have the means to travel with our children around the globe, we can bring a taste of the world into our homes. How is this possible? By hiring an au pair, you not only expand your family’s horizons, but you also provide a unique life-changing opportunity for a trained, qualified childcare provider, who is eager to experience life in the United States.
Meeting Your Family’s Needs
When responding to a research study I conducted to better understand what families valued most about hosting an au pair, 78% of host families responded that having an au pair met their needs for a flexible working schedule at an affordable price.
Unlike traditional childcare, the cost of an au pair is the same, regardless of the number of children you have. For families with more than one child, this presents significant savings. Au pairs also provide a greater degree of flexibility for working parents. While daycare centers operate during fixed hours and expect children to be picked up within a narrow window of time, an au pair can accommodate changing and flexible schedules without increasing the price.
How might an au pair meet your family’s needs? An au pair can help get children ready for school and drive them to school,
appointments, and activities (au pairs have an international driving license). They can prepare children’s meals, supervise homework, bathe, dress and put children to bed. They also can do children’s laundry and assist with light child-related household duties. An au pair’s responsibilities and schedule may vary to meet the unique needs of each individual family they serve.
Finding a Trustworthy Caregiver
As a parent, you know how crucial it is to select a childcare provider that you can trust, who will lovingly provide your children with safe, quality care. You want to make sure that the person who cares for your children is responsible, reliable, trained, and experienced. By using the services of a dependable, experienced au pair agency such as GreatAuPair, which offers carefully screened and trained au pairs, you are greatly increasing the chances of having a successful placement. GreatAuPair is dedicated to assisting families in finding the best live-in childcare, and will also be just as committed to helping the au pairs they place to succeed.
Selecting the Right Au Pair
Selecting an au pair who will fit in well with your family’s specific needs and home environment is important to the success of your au pair experience. GreatAuPair will provide the personal attention and support you need to choose the right au pair for your family. Often, technology plays an important role, by providing online matching and allowing families to see and interact with potential au pairs before choosing one. Making sure that all of your family members participate in the Skype video calls to your potential au pairs, gives everyone a chance to connect with the au pairs and weigh in on this important decision.
GreatAuPair Program Advisors are available to provide every family with personal attention, to ensure that they are selecting the best possible au pair. GreatAuPair Local Childcare Coordinators work locally with each individual family and they are committed to providing advice and support throughout the entire process.
Ongoing Support for Families and Au Pairs
After selecting your au pair and embarking upon this horizon-expanding experience, GreatAuPair will continue to provide you and your au pair with ongoing support and resources. This support includes orientation for newly arrived au pairs, monthly meetings and 24-hour emergency assistance, so families and au pairs can always contact a GreatAuPair representative when they need help. GreatAuPair program advisors and local childcare coordinators will offer the training, support and reassurance you need every step of the way. Through this wonderful experience your family and your au pair together will create lifetime memories and will be better prepared to engage in our increasingly interconnected world.
For more information about the GreatAuPair program J-1 visa, visit online at www.greataupairusa.com or call 800.604.2507 to speak with a GreatAuPair representative and request a free host family application.
Submitted by Dr. Barbara A. Manko, Penn State University/Beaver, PA
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Thursday, January 8, 2015
If you love the sun and want to live in the desert southwest, with year round sunshine, surrounded by some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the United States, then Arizona is the place to be.
Not only are Phoenix and Tucson packed with fun things to do with children, they’re filled with great young adult activities and incredible places to explore during your free time.
However, you need to be a good swimmer. Most households in Arizona have a pool to keep cool in the summer heat. If you’re comfortable in the water you’ll want to take the kids to some of these fabulous water parks: Big Surf, Flowrider, Grande Resort Oasis, Wet‘n’Wild, and Enchanted Island.
It would also be fun to take the children to explore local Museums, the Science Center, Puppet Theater or the Railroad Park. There are collections of handmade dolls and Native American crafts at the Heard Museum and pre 1940’s Navajo and Hopi textiles at the Tucson Desert Art Museum. You can take a ride on the Adobe Mountain Railroad. Visit the Science Center for interactive games and sports or for those under 8, visit Imagination Avenue, a kid sized town.
You could spend the day at the children’s museum and walk through the Noodle Forest or the Rock n Roll ball room, or head out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to see a zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden all in one. There are over 40,000 plants representing 1,200 species as well as a gem, mineral, and fossil collection.
Visit Rawhide Western Town for gun fights and stunt shows, or head to Tombstone southeast of Tucson, where some of the biggest legends of the Old West originated – Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and the gunfight at the OK Corral. You can stay at local hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, go on horseback, stagecoach and wagon train tours. There are gunfight shows, monuments, some intriguing museums and historic buildings to view.
The I.D.E.A. Museum has something for kids of every age, with interactive areas to learn and develop your creativity. Build something out of recycled materials or play in the glow in the dark blacklight room. For older kids, Airworx is a trampoline park that sponsors dodge ball tournaments. Xtreme Pursuit is a paintball facility where they can run off that extra energy or play laser tag at the Laser Quest facility. Your future firemen won’t want to miss the Hall of Fame Fire Museum and everyone will enjoy Out of Africa Wildlife Park.
In your free time, you’ll love the Music and art scene in Phoenix. From the Arizona Jazz Festival, Artwalk on Thursday evenings, the Musical Instrument museum to the Phoenix Art Museum, you’ll never run out of exciting outings. The world-class Jazz Festival is in Tucson in January, followed by the Folk Festival in May.
If you’re a fashionista or love to shop, there are outlet malls, Scottsdale fashion square, Kierland commons and the Biltmore Fashion Park. If your tastes are more eclectic and artsy, visit the American Park n’Swap, or Mesa Swap Meet. Those into food, art and wine will find unlimited year round events put on by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance.
Phoenix and Tucson are surrounded by some of the most beautiful and unique country in the United States. Countless western films were shot in Monument Valley, and the Grand Canyon in Flagstaff is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ is a natural slot canyon, and a photographer’s dream.
No trip to Arizona would be complete without visiting the red rocks in Sedona. Sedona is famous for its incredible hiking trails. You may want to visit Hoover dam at Lake Powell, rent a boat and paddle to the Rainbow Bridge, a natural rock arch. If you’re adventurous, take a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River.
Visit Anisazi cliff dwelling ruins at Mummy Cave in Canyon De Chelly, or head to the Chiricahua national monument south of Tucson to enjoy hiking and rock climbing.
Saguaro National Park is part of the Sonoran Desert, and extends east and west of Tucson. It features saguaro or candelabra cactuses, desert flora and fauna and hiking trails. There is so much more to do and see in Arizona, we just can’t list it all in a short post.
If you love the outdoors and are fascinated by art, photography, Native American culture, the Wild West and natural wonders, Arizona is a fabulous place to live and work as an au pair. Complete your application today, so you can be on your way to sunny Arizona.
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Thursday, June 12, 2014
Dallas (or DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth as its most commonly known) is actually a group of several large & small cities and towns that make up one of the most diverse areas of Texas.
Fort Worth started out as a railroad and cattle town and still retains much of the ‘cowboy’ culture today. In addition to its zoo and arboretum, the Fort Worth Stockyards and rodeo are major tourism draws and a great way to spend a day or weekend. This is where you will find the “wild west”.
Dallas, or the “Big D” is home to some of the best shopping, dining, arts, culture and history in the state. You can spend an afternoon with your host family at the Perot Museum where they feature activities for children, teens and families or enjoy a weekend at the Dallas Zoo. The Dallas Arboretum is a dream in the spring where you can take a picnic and enjoy live music amongst the thousands of tulips. Dallas also has several farmers markets, museums, and sculpture gardens so there is never a shortage of things to do!
If shopping is your thing, there are several malls and outlet malls as well as vintage shops and craft festivals.
Weekends in and around DFW are always filled with options. In the spring, there are farmers markets, baseball (both professional and minor league), art festivals, a St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Greenville Ave, food and wine festivals (Greek Fest, Taste of Addison, Chocolate Festival, and much more). In the summer there are several water parks, lakes, Six Flags of Texas, and tons of shopping. 4th of July offers KaBoomtown in Addison, and fireworks in almost every town!
In the fall and winter, you can’t miss Oktoberfest in Addison, the Balloon Festival in Plano, train rides in Grapevine, Texas football games, or countless other activities.
Dallas is a 4 hour drive from Austin or San Antonio, and 6-7 hours to Houston, so weekend trips are a must! Austin has a great music and art scene and is our state capital. San Antonio is home of the Alamo, and the world famous Riverwalk, and Houston is close to Galveston, the beach, NASA and Moody Gardens nature museum.
Complete your application today, so we can match you with our friendly Dallas/Ft Worth host families!
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Monday, March 24, 2014
The number of older adults connecting with friends and family on the internet and via social media is rising every year. You know this from personal experience, if you’re a home-based caregiver for seniors. It’s statistically true as well, according to recent Pew Research studies which show 53% of Americans age 65 and up using the internet and email, and 43% making use of social networking.
The online experience has opened doors for the seniors in our care, giving them ways to stay in touch with the important folks in their lives despite the obstacles that distance, weather, and health issues may present. But the internet can also open the door to a lot of unwanted and unwelcome attention in the form of targeted scams, fraud, and identity theft.
These risks are real. National statistics show that while adults over 65 make up just 12% of our population, they comprise 30% of all the victims of fraud and scams each year. As a caregiver, you have a real duty to help the elders you serve develop safer, wiser practices on their computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Opening the conversation
Start with a conversation about seniors who’ve been defrauded — it’s a great way to introduce the topic of online safety. Remind your charges to change their secure passwords every now and then, and keep a handwritten list of passwords near their computer. Let them know that it’s a bad idea to click on an email link that comes from a stranger, and to never, ever, give account information of any kind in response to an email.
Many seniors don’t understand how public Facebook really is. Help them to tighten up their privacy settings, and let them know that criminals are using the social networks, too! An innocent post about being home alone or a check-in at an outside location can be an invitation to home invasion. If checking in via FourSquare is a favorite activity, encourage seniors to check in when they’re leaving, instead of when they’re arriving.
This might be a delicate subject to broach. But please, do it anyway! Thousands of seniors are defrauded every year by unsavory characters posing as romantic partners. They need to understand that when an online date starts spinning a hard-luck story — no matter how heartbreaking it seems — it’s a doomed relationship and a scam in the making.
Links from friends
Even if the seniors in your care have cleaned up their online behaviors, their friends may not have done the same. Encourage your charges to wait a day before clicking on links they get from friends via email or Facebook posts. While nobody sends malicious viruses to their friends on purpose, accidents do happen, and that’s what the scammers count on.
On the subject of malware and viruses, help your charges download a good virus protection program. If you can set it to run automatically, do so. Then take the time to demonstrate how it can be manually activated as well.
A final note
Remember, you’re not trying to scare seniors away from using their computers and mobile devices. The online world is a great place for elders to keep up on news, access valuable information, and stay in touch with family and friends. With your help, seniors can be safe in that online world — just the way you keep them safe in the real world.
Author: Kimberly Barnes
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Monday, March 17, 2014
The whole idea behind taking your kids on vacation is to broaden their horizons. You want them to appreciate history and be amazed by what’s out in the world. Of course, this can lead to boredom.
No matter how hard you work at it, your kids just don’t think the place you chose was fun. However, you can’t just do what they want since you can’t go on most of the rides and the ones you can go on, they can’t. This is where you need to look for places that delight your inner child. Here are five great suggestions to start you off.
The Mystery Spot
Ever spend hours traveling to a fabulous location only to find out the thing you wanted to see is closed? Then you might want to try The Mystery Spot where the only thing on the fritz is gravity. That’s right; right outside Santa Cruz, CA is a gravitational anomaly where normal physics seem to have taken its own vacation. Make sure to take a tennis ball or slinky, because you definitely won’t believe your eyes.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston
There are LEGOLAND Discovery Centers all over the world. However, when one opens for the first time, there’s ten times the excitement. On May 23rd 2014, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Boston will be opening their doors. These indoor complexes feature the famous toy as well as interesting learning potential alongside some amazing models.
Harry Potter Museum
Many amusement parks try to recreate the experience of Harry Potter through roller coasters and fancy rides. That is not needed at the Harry Potter Museum outside Warner Brothers London studios. This museum features some of the actual sets from the historic movie series. This is probably the closest thing to being in the real Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Retro Computer Museum
Ever feel like technology has passed you by? Remember those days when games and home computers still made sense or at least didn’t confuse you? Well, you and your kids can experience all these old tech classics at the retro computer museum. Special focus has been given to the computers found inside the home. The Retro Computer Museum includes all the gaming consoles you grew up with. See if your kids can compete with the games you grew up with.
Toys “R” Us Time Square
The biggest toy store in the world has to be the internet, but that’s not nearly as exciting as seeing things in person. One of NY’s biggest attractions is one of the largest toy stores in the world. The flagship store for Toys “R” Us features a 60 ft Ferris wheel, a 20 ft T-Rex that roars, and a life-size Barbie doll house. It spans 110,000 square feet of space with tons of interactive displays and toys for all ages.
Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer interested in creative play, free time activities and travel. Recently he babysat for his niece so he researched the best kids attractions to visit for her and himself sharing the results in this guest feature for the GreatAuPair blog.
The Mystery Spot
Harry Potter Museum
Retro computer museum
Toys “R” Us Time Square
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