From an Au Pair mom.
Is changing caregivers every year bad for my children?
Children need constants in their life. Caring parents and the family environment provide such permanence. Most forms of childcare naturally expose children to changing caregivers often – in school, every year there is a new teacher; in an institutional daycare, every year, in a new age group, there is a new teacher.
Creating and maintaining relationships with many loving adults can be an enriching experience for children.
If a host family desires more continuity of care, they can match with an au pair who plans to extend her stay after the first year. Au pair program offers options of extension for 6, 9 or 12 months; so it is possible to host the same au pair for up to two years. Another way to provide more continuity for children is to host au pairs from the same country, exposing them to the same culture and second language.
I have found that there are advantages to having a new au pair every year. As children grow, their needs change, and so do my requirements of a caregiver. When my children are young, I need someone loving and affectionate, and driving skills are not very important. With school aged children, I need a caregiver who is more authoritative, organized, whose English and education are good enough to help them with homework, and an experienced driver. Au pair program provides a natural way to select the best kind of au pair for the stage of your children’s growth.
An important and unique facet of the au pair program, is that it creates lasting relationships for your children around the world. When an au pair leaves, she doesn’t really leave your family – your family gains another member in a different country. With each new au pair, the children are exposed to a different culture. They can travel to visit their au pairs in their home countries, and their lives become enriched in a myriad of ways.