What is a Nanny?

Also known as: Childcare Professional, Au Pair, In-Home Childcare Provider.

Nannies are in-home childcare providers that have a close relationship formed with the children and families they work for. While day-care centers only offer childcare within certain hours of the day, nannies are often live-in additional support people that play a large role in the lives of the children they take care of. Nannies are often so much more than just childcare workers. They often act as personal chefs and housekeepers. Because of this, they are generally paid very well and are given lovely living conditions in return for their hard work.

Many people can become nannies for a family without any professional training, but often companies and services that outsource nannies require their employees to have childcare credentials. Becoming a childcare professional can be a rewarding employment opportunity for any individual that has a place in their heart for children.

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What does a Nanny do?

The job of an in-home childcare provider is different depending on the needs of the family employing them. Job duties could be as simple as looking out for children overnight while the family members work night shifts, and can be as extensive as running all of the family errands, caring for the children, and cleaning the house.

Many nannies live in the family home so they are available to take care of the child or children when they are needed. Nannies may be responsible for caring for the dependents even when the parents are home. Some nannies are hired to watch the children while the parents work from home. This gives the parents time to get their important work done while still having presence within the home, all while another individual pays close and careful attention to the children and other things that must be taken care of around the house.

Some parents hire nannies that are certified to tutor their children, giving them advanced learning opportunities instead of simply being baby-sat. The ultimate goals of good nannies are to provide excellent care to the children and household while they are under their supervision.

How to become a Nanny

Personality-wise, nannies should be individuals with a strong love of children and the desire to watch them grow and thrive in a nurturing environment to be successful caregivers.

Becoming an in-home childcare professional is not a difficult task. Nannies should be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. Candidates for in-home child-care jobs should be up to date on all of their necessary immunizations and be trained in first aid and CPR. Many families will hire nannies based on experience and won’t necessarily require them to have any additional education. Families that hire based on experience only often feel that experience raising and caring for children is worth just as much as a diploma.

The INA offers an examination online for nannies. This exam, when passed, provides nannies with certification proving they know the necessary information about nutrition, childcare, child safety, development, and other concepts a childcare provider should know to do their job correctly.

The INA exam is available to any person who has worked at least 2,000 hours as a nanny. This equals out to a year of full-time work in the field. When the exam is passed, it shows that successful test takers are aware of the basic concepts behind caring for a child properly. This certification looks great to families and childcare agencies.

If a nanny-in-training is looking to work through a staffing company or an agency to place them in homes that need nannies, more work needs to be done. Staffing companies and agencies only hire certified nannies. Fortunately that process isn’t too strenuous to those who have the drive to complete the necessary steps.

Early childhood education degrees are the ideal choice of education for nannies. These degree programs are filled with useful information about how children thrive and develop with proper early childhood care. Even an associate’s degree in early childhood education can be enough to skyrocket a career for nannies. Early childhood education degrees are especially useful if a nanny-to-be has an interest in working with children that have special needs.

Workshops and lectures that focus on the development of children, as well as parenting classes, are other useful resources that nannies can put on their resumes. The more practical childcare know-how, the better the resume will appeal to agencies and families looking to hire in-home childcare professionals.

The Council for Professional Recognition offers a program called the Child Development Associate program. This tests a candidate’s overall knowledge of childcare and their abilities as a childcare professional. In order to pass the program, a person must have advanced knowledge about nurturing creativity in children, child safety, health knowledge, and communicating effectively with children. Many areas of North America require childcare professionals to have this certification.



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