I read an article in the Chicago Tribune yesterday titled “Unemployed teachers finding work as nannies,” about how unemployed teachers are finding work as nannies, and sometimes crowding career nannies out of legitimate opportunities.
At College Nannies & Tutors of N.E. Chicago, we often hire teachers as nannies, as well as college students studying education for their major. They tend to love children, and have a knack for teaching children with a creative and energetic approach. Like any employee though, you have to move beyond the photo and their profile to drill a bit deeper.
Here are a couple of our tips when considering a teacher as a nanny.
1. Ask the question. . . . “If a teaching job came up tomorrow, what would you do?“ This question is essential to the hiring process, as in our experience a teacher really wants to teach. A teacher, most likely, will go back to a teaching position at the first opportunity. Keep in mind, teaching offers other perks like summers off, good benefits and paid holidays. We came very close to hiring one person who in the final stages of our interviewing process admitted she would leave the nanny position if a teaching opportunity became available to her. And that type of short notice change can be very disruptive to a family, so we had to consider a new candidate.
2. Does the teacher have previous in-home childcare experience? One of the biggest differences between being a teacher and a nanny is, a teacher works in a supervised environment on a schedule. It’s not to say that an excellent teacher can’t function on his/her own, but there is no guarantee that a teacher will adapt to working in a home unsupervised. No one is monitoring his/her work and the nanny is responsible for setting the schedule. We interviewed a candidate who made it pretty far in the interview process, however, during reference checks a previous supervisor (a parent herself) had the courage to tell us she would not recommend this individual to work with children unsupervised. The candidate had a tendency to become negative and the supervisor was concerned about how that would play in a one-on-one situation with a child.
3. Working one-on-one with a child or two is very different than running a classroom. Some may say it’s easier and others the opposite, and it truly depends on the individual. Ask the teacher what he/she sees to be the positive and negative differences of the two situations. Be aware of answers like, “it will be so much fun to play with the children all day.“ That is not a realistic or a well-thought answer. Any parent knows that it is not all fun and games to be with children for 8-10 hours straight. Working one-on-one in many ways can be more demanding that spreading your time among a classroom because you are expected to me “on” the entire time (other than naps).
4. Find out about willingness to do household chores. Most families seeking full-time care are also seeking assistance with light housekeeping; laundry, meal prep and errands. An individual with a master’s degree may or may not be willing to do your laundry. Ask to know if this person has some skill in the areas where you need assistance the most. Everyone does not share the same idea of what it means to clean up, prepare a meal or do laundry well.
As with most relationships open and clear communication is key. Be clear about your expectations and ask the tough questions. Be careful not to let a résumé lull you into seeing something that isn’t there. Teachers can be great nannies, but don’t assume every teacher will be a great nanny.
If you are looking for a nanny for your children with an education background give us a call. Chicago Nannies & Tutors of N.E. Chicago can help find the best nanny for your family. Or try a copy of my book How to Hire a Nanny: 5 Steps to Find One Who Works for You.