SERVICES: BABYSITTING/ NANNY AGENCY AND KINDERGARTEN
There's no denying that small children need a lot of looking after, but the good news is that there is help plenty help at hand. The Moixaina Outdoor Kindergarten and Tender Loving Canguros babysitting and nanny service, based in Barcelona, give us an insight into their work.
Moixaina was established in 2002, inspired by a small school set up 30 years ago in a back garden in Ecuador. Since children aren't legally required to attend an official school until the age of 6, ages range from 2 to 6. All the children play and work together with the materials provided, choosing what they want to do, and are accompanied rather than dictated to by the teachers. Classrooms are the open natural spaces of the city, such as Barceloneta beach and Montjuic park.
On the beach, the children play games with the sand, numbers games, letters games, games with plastic animals and wood blocks, splashing in the sea, and swinging from the tops of the rope pyramid, whilst in the park they have basic carpentry kits, wooden carts, fruits and nuts to break open and investigate… "Being out in the open air offers a very different environment to an enclosed schoolroom," says Lidia, one of the teachers. "Here the kids are constantly interacting with the real world, with the granddads playing dominos by the seafront, the dogs and the passers by."
Hyperactive and nervous kids considered to have behavioural problems relax more outdoors, and both the teachers and parents feel that this approach respects the natural rhythms of each child, allowing them to develop and follow what they need and want at the moment that's best for them. We ask if she can give any examples. "There was a child that was though to be autistic, who eventually started speaking normally. And a two year old girl who kept making animal noises. At first we thought she was a bit mad, but then realised that her mother worked with horses and she was just imitating the sounds." With this permanent contact with nature, and activities designed to guide the child's interaction with the world at their own pace, the parents and teachers believe this creates a stimulating and safe environment for small children to develop.
The Moixaina school year starts in September, but new arrivals are welcomed at any time. At the moment they meet from Monday to Thursday. A lot of the kids come from mixed nationality parents, and the languages spoken at Moixaina are a mixture of Catalan, Spanish and English, so the children start picking these languages up naturally from each other.
For more info, contact Moixaina:934915251
The Tender Loving Canguros babysitting and nanny agency was set up by two mothers in a fit of inspiration following a networking meeting. Julie and Julia wanted to start a business together using the skills and knowledge gained from raising children in Barcelona. Clients are of many nationalities.
"We get a mixture of clients," explains Julie, "including a lot of tourists who are just in town for a few days, conferences… and all sorts of requests for different languages…German, Japanese"
Although they now have a lot of babysitters on their books, finding a nanny can take longer, since people can have very specific requirements. Their most amusing request ever? Julia laughs. "Well, one of the police camps, the mossos, rang to say they wanted a live in au pair that speaks English. I asked the usual questions, what hours, where do you live, then how many children. They said no, we don't have any children. They just wanted to learn English! So I said I didn't think any of our girls would feel very comfortable doing that! Why couldn't they just rent the room out to an English speaker and make some money out of it?!"
For babysitting, they charge an hourly rate for up to 2 children, paid to the babysitter, plus their fee on top of that. For long term they recommend €7 an hour. Some pay more, some want to pay less, and they charge one month's wages agency fee.
Potential babysitters are always thoroughly interviewed and references are checked wherever the person may be from. "Last night I was checking a reference in Canada at 11pm," adds Julie, "but if clients are looking for a full time permanent nanny we highly recommend that they check the references themselves." The 3 month trial period on any job gives both the employers and the girls a chance to change if it doesn't work out.
Overall however they are happy with what they have achieved to date. "We get lovely emails from clients, when it works it feels really good. We've had some lovely success stories, both girls (and occasionally boys) and parents that are really happy."
For more info, contact Tender Loving Canguros: 647605989, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.tlcanguros.com.