Importance of Professional Development

People attending a Congress
People attending a Congress

by amanda dunyak Professional development is the ongoing process of acquiring new knowledge and skills in your profession. Most careers, especially in the corporate world, will require that their employees complete a certain amount of hours of professional development per year. These opportunities are usually readily available to employees, whether they are held on company property or at a distant location for which the company will typically provide paid time off for. Some of these classes are at no extra cost to the employee, however there some that the employees are responsible to pay for.

In the childcare industry, teachers, whether in a public school or private school, are offered many opportunities for professional development. There are teachers’ in-service days, classes after school hours, and conventions. Most teachers do not have to search for ways to improve professionally, as these opportunities are open to them and it is made very clear to employees that they are there for them, if they should they want or require it.

For nannies, it’s a little bit harder. We don’t have a company requiring us to take any sort of professional development classes, nor does our profession require a college degree. Sure, our employers might require first aid and CPR, but I don’t think they expect more than that from us. I don’t even think they know that there are even classes out there for us nannies! Heck, I don’t even think some NANNIES know what is out there for them! There may not be college courses specific to nannies or a degree in “Nannying,” but there are a ton of online and in-person resources available to us to help us improve ourselves professionally and stay up to date in the childcare industry. Here are just some of the resources available to nannies:

1) National Nanny Training Day (NNTD). National Nanny Training Day is held to raise awareness of the positive correlation between nanny training and quality care. This annual professional development opportunity is held at the end of the Week of the Young Child, a celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Events are held throughout the United States on the same day, with each event offering a variety of workshops with topics regarding hands-on childcare and development (for example, Positive Discipline, Potty Training, etc.) as well as professional advancement, such as resume building, nanny contracts, interviewing and so on. More information about this event can be found here: http://www.nannypalooza.com/national-nanny-training-day.html

2) Nannypalooza. Nannypalooza is an annual, national conference available to caregivers from not just the United States, but other countries as well. This year, Nannypalooza will be celebrating its 10th anniversary and will be held in Orlando, Florida on October 2-4th. Like NNTD, Nannypalooza offers quality workshops regarding positive, hands-on care, child development and professional development. Attendees will get to choose up to 6 workshops for the weekend, with 2 or 3 choices to choose from in each time frame. Workshops cater to nannies of all ages and at all stages in their career. Both Nannypalooza and NNTD are opportunities to learn new skills, network, and forge new relationships with people who share the same passion for their nanny career as you do. For more information regarding Nannypalooza, please check out this link: http://www.nannypalooza.com/

3) International Nanny Association (INA). The INA is a non-profit organization with members ranging from nannies and nanny agencies, to educators and industry service providers. The mission of the INA is to provide education and information for and about the in-home childcare industry. For anyone thinking about becoming a nanny, the INA is the place to go. The International Nanny Association has also developed the first nationally recognized Nanny Credential Exam as well as the Nanny Basic Skills Exam, both designed for nannies to prove a high level of professionalism within the industry. Not only does the INA offer these exams and other great resources with their membership, but they have an annual conference as well. This year’s conference was held from April 23-26th in Cancun, Mexico and featured some of the top experts in the childcare industry, including “Doctor G,” Dr. Deborah Gilboa, M.D. For more information about the INA, how to become a member, next year’s conference, and more, please visit: http://www.nanny.org/

4) Care Academy. Care Academy, formerly SitterCycle, is a website designed to present learning opportunities in the form of classes and blogs for nannies, parents, and caregivers. Care Academy gives caregivers the opportunity to learn essential skills and credentials from leading experts in the childcare industry. Some of the classes that Care Academy has offered are Baby Sign Language Basics, Child Nutrition, Positive Discipline, and Writing a Great Resume. Check out Care Academy today at http://www.careacademy.co/

5) My Nanny University. This site will be launching in May and is run by Lora Brawley, veteran nanny and industry trainer and consultant. This website offers a plethora of information for nannies and caregivers, right down to how to ask for a nanny contract, something that is very important for our profession. Lora offers a wide array of online classes, some for free and some for a low cost, but all high-quality. Some of these classes are very hands-on, even over the internet, letting you work with other nannies in the “class” via webcam to help you build new skills or refine skills that you have already learned. There are many Facebook groups available to nannies as well to ask for advice and to help build new relationships with nannies from all over the world! Lora is also the creator of National Nanny Training Day and she partners with Sue Downey, founder of Nannypalooza, to bring us the Practically Perfect Podcast, covering important and hard-hitting topics regarding the nanny industry. For more information, please check out mynannyuniversity.com

6) CPR, First Aid, Water Safety. These are three very important trainings for nannies and in-home childcare professionals to have. While a child is in our care, we nannies are responsible for their safety. While they may be rare, and you may be doing the best job possible, accidents do happen and we need to be prepared for EVERY situation. Be sure to keep your first aid and CPR training up to date. There are many different community organizations that may offer you these trainings, but to find one of your own, visit http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/program-highlights/cpr-first-aid.

7) Early Childhood Education. College is not for everyone. Usually it comes down to cost and time, but if you are able to, take some early childhood education classes at your local community college or online university or obtain your CDA (Child Development Associate Credential). This is an opportunity to gain more knowledge into childhood development. Check out your local college or university for more information on early childhood education courses or visit http://www.cdacouncil.org/index.php for more information on obtaining your CDA.

While none of these are required for or expected of nannies, the mere fact that they are available resources for us is a pretty amazing thing. We have the choice and the ability to continue improving ourselves professionally. This will open the doors for higher paying and higher quality jobs and the respect that this career deserves, especially when they media tends to paint nannies in a negative light. Happy learning, nannies!