Au pairs provide a unique live-in childcare experience that many parents enjoy. These caregivers often become like family members and develop strong bonds with their host kids long after the program year ends.
However, there are some things to consider before choosing au pair childcare as your primary source of child care. One drawback is that au pairs typically need more professional experience in childcare.
You’ll Learn a New Language
Au pairs come from a wide variety of countries, and many bring with them a unique home culture. By sharing their language and traditions with your kids, they’ll introduce them to new ways of viewing the world.
While the research on when to teach kids a second language is complex, there’s one clear thing: Young kids are wired to learn languages more quickly than adults. So, if you want your kids to learn more than just English, it’s best to get them started early. And what better way than with an au pair?
Many au pairs are thrilled to share aspects of their culture with their host families. For example, an au pair taught her host kids to cook traditional recipes and celebrate cultural holidays like the Day of the Dead. She also helped her hosts understand a different perspective on life by reading picture books (“Masters and Servants”) and Am I Small?
It’s a great idea to encourage your au pair to use their native language when communicating with your kids, but don’t push them too hard. A common strategy among multilingual families is to follow the One Person One Language approach, or OPOL, which means you speak your kids’ primary language while your au pair speaks theirs.
You’ll Get to Experience a New Culture
Au pairs participate in a cultural exchange program, bringing language, food, traditions, and other things from their home country. This creates an immersive experience for the kids they care for and their parents. In addition, the au pair program in the USA allows international participants to experience American culture while providing childcare assistance to host families, fostering cultural exchange and personal growth.
Kids often have strong relationships with caregivers like teachers and babysitters, but the unique bond between a host family and an au pair is even more vital. This is partly because the two parties have a shared goal, which helps foster a deep connection. It’s also because the au pair is an integral part of the home and can become a source of comfort in the children’s lives.
Because most au pairs come from another country, their English isn’t always fluent. This can make communication challenging at first, but it can easily be worked through. In time, the au pair and the family build a relationship based on mutual respect and trust.
Many Host Families develop a special bond with their au pair and often adopt holiday traditions that the au pair brings to their home. They might sing a particular song, play a game, or make a special meal. It’s a beautiful way to introduce their kids to the culture of another country. The children learn a new language and culture in a natural, fun way beyond rote memorization or flashcards.
You’ll Get Paid
A significant benefit of hosting an au pair is getting paid for their work. Au pairs are required to track their hours, which helps ensure they don’t exceed the maximum limit set by their program. If the family discovers that an au pair is working too much, their sponsor can help both parties come to a fair resolution for all involved.
In addition to getting paid, au pairs receive free housing and meals, a private room with a lock and key, and access to health and travel insurance. They can also participate in the host family’s day-to-day life, including trips to restaurants and other attractions in the area. Some even choose to travel with their host families, which is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the country they’re visiting.
While some families worry about the loss of privacy of having a live-in childcare provider, most find it worth it. Discussing expectations about how the au pair will interact with your family during the initial interviews will help avoid any unexpected problems.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of au pair exchange programs for childcare, contact a qualified agency today. An experienced cultural exchange specialist can answer any questions and assist you in finding the right match for your family’s needs.
You’ll Make Friends
One of the most valuable aspects of hosting an au pair is the organic opportunities they provide to expose children to a new language and culture. Rather than just reading books and watching movies, your au pair can teach your kids about their language and music. Many parents have watched their preschool-aged children seamlessly integrate words and phrases into their everyday vocabulary due to their interactions at home.
Another unique benefit is the relationship between the host family and their au pair. While a nanny or daycare may be a stranger, your au pair will become part of the family. They can participate in family outings and holiday celebrations and offer support during homesickness. The close connection that builds between your family and your au pair is a great way to build friendships across the globe.
It’s important to remember that au pairs are young adults traveling solo and rely on their host families for the emotional and professional support they need during their year abroad. While there will be some loss of privacy due to them living with your family, most families find that the bond they develop with their au pair is well worth any sacrifice in privacy.