Nannying is one of those jobs that often, people just fall into. Usually it begins with gaining some experience in babysitting, which a lot of young people try at a time when they are studying at school or maybe have spare evening hours while working during the day. If you find that you enjoy caring for children and want to take the next step, a very good idea is to equip yourself with some sort of training. There are always part time courses in childcare particularly, that can usually be found online and in many different institutions that will give you a solid base as to the best way to care for children from the youngest age, through the toddler years and on to older children.
This type of training takes into consideration the practical side of caring for children covering topics such as safety first, nutrition and health, what milestones to expect at what age, for example, which motor skills should be evident at a particular age, and generally how to care for a child physically through the different stages of maturity. Of course, there is always the possibility and/or opportunities to learn how to deal with more psychological and educational issues regarding children but this is an area that overlaps with a greater variety of training for students interested in expanding their knowledge of how to care for the child as a whole.
As an example of caring for children in a more educational way, a kindergarten concerns itself with caring for the child by stimulating cognitive learning as well as offering the obvious care that is required to encourage a child to take steps towards discovering and learning life skills on his or her own.
As a nanny you will often be placed in a position where being able to keep a child safe, well fed, properly clothed and entertained may not be enough! Many parents in the world of today, expect the whole package – so you are expected to be excellent at everything! Of course, professional training is one thing but there is so much to be said for on-the-job training, especially when it comes to caring for children. Each of those little bundles of high-powered energy is usually very individual and therefore needs specifically different care. They all need to be fed for example, but what you will be successful in getting them to each is another matter! Strategies and tactics are words I would prefer not to use when discussing children, but in real terms, these are what keep your charges from running amuck and also keep you coming back the next day.
Educating children begins long before they become part of a class in kindergarten or are introduced to their private tutor. I have often worked in family situations where it is culturally considered not necessary to smile at a baby or even encourage smiling. Many aspects of educating children are simply left up to the person or people the child spends most time with and if that happens to be the nanny – certainly not uncommon in my experience – then you are, without doubt, going to make an impression on the child. Many parents make it quite clear at the start that they have particular requirements that have to be adhered to, for example, the way you must encourage or discourage certain behaviour. It can be tough to say the least especially if you are inclined a certain way but just as a child has to become used to you, so too do you have to learn how to ‘care and educate’ each particular child you are employed to look after.
Becoming a nanny appears to be a rather easy progression from gaining experience with babysitting and perhaps even taking a course to better your chances of landing a great job, but the major difference lies in the fact that, whether you like it or not, you are absorbed into the family unit to some extent, and the responsibility to engage, care for, educate with social skills if not more and to just ‘be there’ rests with the nanny – a job of many trades – and one that is so important.