Although a nanny works in a very informal setting, it’s important to remember that she is still a childcare professional, and performance goals should be an expected and regular part of the job. Here are a few ways these goals serve the nanny, the parents and the child.
Goals help parents outline their expectations. Many parents don’t hire a nanny with specific childcare goals in mind. They often think in general terms, like “I want my child to be happy” or “I want my nanny to love and take great care of my child.” While those are important things, the vagueness of those statements doesn’t help a nanny understand exactly what the parents need and want. Setting specific performance goals can give the nanny guidance in her day-to-day activities.
Goals let the nanny know she’s on track and meeting the parents’ expectations. When a nanny has well-defined performance goals, she knows when she’s doing a great job. She can tailor her daily planning to make sure she’s meeting the parents’ expectations and she can track all the things she does, not only for the child, but for the family as a whole.
Big picture goals allow a nanny to spotlight the many things she does to support and help the family. Nannies often go above and beyond the call of duty to help make their employers’ lives easier. They do many tasks behind the scenes, making it seem to employers that things effortlessly get done. Outlining big picture goals, such as organizing the play room or developing a system to track school paperwork, gives a nanny the opportunity to detail all the time, effort and creativity she uses to get those tasks done. It is often surprising to employers how much goes into a seemingly simple duty.
Goals ensure the nanny is supporting the child developmentally. When a nanny outlines how she specifically will foster a child’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional, and language development, it sets the stage for making sure she is meeting the needs of the whole child. It also helps parents understand how daily activities are tied to their child’s healthy development and well-being.
Physical development goals might include things like having an arts and crafts activity at least three times each week to help the child develop fine motor skills through the use of crayons, markers and scissors, or visiting the playground at least three times each week to allow the child to build strength and increase coordination through active play.
Cognitive development goals might include things like using routine tasks like grocery shopping or putting away toys to increase the child’s letter and number recognition, or regularly playing the ‘What If” game to encourage the child’s natural curiosity and build problem solving skills.
Social and emotional development goals might include things like participating in a weekly playgroup to encourage the child to develop a positive relationship with peers, or creating a household rule chart so the child can begin to learn and internalize rules, routines and directions.
Language development goals might include things like reading to the child daily to encourage the simple recitation of stories, songs and finger plays, or talking with the child throughout the day to encourage the child to express his needs and wants in simple three to four word sentences.
Goals remind both the parents and the nanny of the importance of the work. Because nanny care is such an informal type of childcare, it’s easy to forget that it’s real and important work. It’s easy for the nanny to fall into the “babysitting” mentality, and it’s just as easy for the parents to accept that level of care. Setting and reviewing specific performance goals reminds both parties what can and should be happening every day and gives them a tangible way to accurately assess the nanny’s performance.
Goals provide parents a measurable way to evaluate and reward their nanny. When it comes to conversations surrounding a potential raise, many nannies are at a loss as to how to explain to parents why they deserve one. They know they’re doing a great job, but besides pointing to a happy, healthy child, they don’t have any real world way of demonstrating the work they’ve done. Having specific goals in place allows nannies to show parents exactly what they’ve accomplished and gives them a solid basis for asking for a raise.
Setting performance based goals in a nanny job is an important part of being a childcare professional. It benefits the nanny, the parents and the child and can bring a new level of intentionality and awareness to the caregiving situation.