Long before there was OMG, ROTFLMAO and WTF, there was RTFM.
F (your favorite F word here. We use “family”)
We put a lot of work into those family manuals and handbooks, and we expect them to be useful to our Au Pairs. However, before the Au Pairs find these handbooks useful, they actually have to read them.
What can we do to get our Au Pairs to read the handbooks?
Here’s what I’ve tried:
1. Give her the handbook on the first night so that she can start to read it before the first work day. [Or, send the handbook ahead (either before she leaves or at orientation)]
2. Tell her which sections of the handbook we’ll be going over in her next at-home orientation session, so that she can read ahead.
3. Assign her specific on-duty time to read the handbook.
4. Take sections out of the handbook, handing her a pencil, and asking her to tick off each item as I demonstrate it to her or talk to her about it.
5. Have her read the point, guideline, or paragraph aloud, with me, and then discussing whether she understands it.
6. Asking her to identify for me any works she does not understand, concepts she does not understand, or guidelines she does not agree with, so that we can discuss them.
7. Writing funny personal notes in random spots on the manual, to suggest that I was expecting her not only to read the manual but to bring up a topic with me in conversation.
One of the straws that broke me with our ‘flame out’ au pair was my discovery that she had never actually looked through the family handbook in its entirety…despite my having gone through all of these steps at least twice with her. When she finally admitted that much, I really did want to scream ‘Read the F–ing, #@$^%-@%($&!^)% Family Handbook!” at the top of my lungs, but I refrained.
Instead I called our LCC and told her we were ready for a rematch.
What have you tried that seems to work?
Write it in the comments, and we’ll read it. We promise.