Au Pair Appreciation: Cross-Cultural Connections with Our Children

by cv harquail on February 5, 2014

It been a year and a half since our beloved Educare AP, R, left us to return home for university, but she remains a strong presence in our lives.
She is present through her letters, and especially through the lessons she taught the children.

eine der gutenOur children were in third grade and kindergarten when she was with us, and this AP found ways to reach and excite both children through her incredible skill at connecting and teaching.

With our younger child, who has significant learning disabilities, she embraced the curriculum he was supposed to be learning about the United States, and she devised ways to make it fun and to extend what was being taught at school.  The two of them often sang Americana songs together, and just this week (nearly 18 months after she left), he pulled up a recording of “Fifty Nifty United States,” and sang it through, noting how much he missed this AP and her habit of alternating states with him during the refrain to see who could name all the states in alphabetical order faster!

Because this AP is also an artist, our son also has strong memories of painting and drawing with her, and how she created mixed-media collages around American themes, using photographs, newspaper, oil paints, and other materials to capture her growing understanding of the country where she was living.  Her embrace of the United States enabled him to see the joy in learning about his country, and to this day, he still loves to sing “America, the Beautiful,” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and of course knows all the states and capitals, because this AP helped him see the fun in singing together and in celebrating the USA.

At the same time that she helped our son learn about America, “R” also taught our daughter about Germany.  Each week, the two would have long stretches of time while they had to wait for our son to have speech therapy.  As a way of connecting with our daughter and making use of those long periods in waiting rooms, R created her own German language textbook just for our daughter, drawing pictures of animals and assigning the German words to them, cutting out pictures of our family and assigning the German words for family members, and creating other fun curricular materials for teaching our daughter numbers, colors, the days of the week and months of the year, and other concepts in German.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, we ended up moving at the end of that year to another state, and the school we ended up picking for our daughter required German as a language.  So in fourth grade, our daughter joined a class that had been studying German since first grade, but she had had no formal language training beyond what this AP had done with her.  It turns out that she was far ahead of her peers, based on R’s excellent teaching. Even now, a year and a half later, our daughter still notes regularly that she already knows things her classmates are just learning, because our beloved Educare AP already taught it to her.

 While many of our AuPairs have been excellent childcare providers, and this AP was as well,  R also had was a gift for teaching and engaging children that ensured that the fun lessons she taught would have long-term meaning and significance.

We are so pleased that this young woman has decided to study to become a teacher in her home country, as we know first-hand how incredible she is at reaching and exciting children about learning – and ensuring that her lessons (and the memories they created) will last.

 When an au pair connects deeply with your children and shares a love of learning with them, you need at least two languages to say “Herzlichen Dank“.

Image: Träume süss von sauren Gurken -German saying “Dream sweetly of sour gherkins”, Typografic Print, available on Etsy, by EineDerGuten




Host Mom in the City February 5, 2014 at 12:38 pm

What a great story! Thanks for sharing!

K L Former host mom February 6, 2014 at 2:49 pm

It’s wonderful to hear about the cultural exchange that actually happened with your au pair. That’s why my family participated in the program. Unfortunately, out of 7 au pairs we had over the years, only 2 truly shared their culture, enriching the lives of my girls, and teaching me about the wider world as well.

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