One of the best things you, as a nanny, can do for the children in your care is to keep your current skills fresh and continue learning new things. Even a very experienced nanny can get a burst of inspiration from attending a morning workshop, and making continuing education a regular part of your work year will keep you feeling invigorated and capable in your job.
However, it can be hard to arrange trainings, as they can require time off and you must pay for the course. If there is a training or course you would like to attend, but the price tag or time off work makes you hesitate, consider asking your current nanny-family for help. Families benefit greatly when you do your best work, so it is to their advantage to fund your continuing education, especially if you are taking a course in something that interests the family. Here are five tips on how to effectively and respectfully negotiate partial or full funding for continuing education, with specific examples in italics for you to consider:
1. Ask Early
If possible, you should discuss a continuing education budget at the time of your hire, when you are negotiating a contract. Give the family examples of courses you have attended in the past and how they have benefited previous nanny-families and their children. If you can, it is always a good idea to include the continuing education budget in your contract. One example:
Professional Development: Family will support Nanny in her continuing education by paying for her to attend one professional development day per year, up to $400 per year. Nanny may accrue this benefit to attend more expensive or lengthy courses every two or three years. Nanny will present potential professional development courses to the family for consideration and approval at least three months prior to the course start date.
Even if you have already begun working, you can still make a request for help paying for continuing education at any time. Bring it up months before the course begins so your family has time to get excited about the course and make plans.
“I’ve just heard about this amazing course in Positive Discipline that’s coming up in May. I’ve been reading articles about this approach and I think learning more will help little Sylvie by…”
2. Scale Your Request
To be successful in securing a continuing education budget, you must consider the realistic capacity of the family. Even low-income families should be able to pay for your CPR/First Aid training every other year, but it is unrealistic to ask them to pay for a $1000 training in infant care. Use your own wage to gauge how much the family can afford. Here are some examples of a typical continuing education budget for different income levels, and how you might spend it:
The family can likely afford...$100-$200/year
Which can pay for...CPR & First Aid, books to read while baby naps
The family can likely afford...$300-$400/year
Which can pay for...Newborn Care Specialist courses, RIE® Nurturing Nanny™, most online courses
The family can likely afford...$500-$1000/year
Which can pay for...RIE® Foundations™ course, Montessori, Waldorf, or Reggio teacher training
A family that can afford to pay you $40 or more per hour can likely afford any training that interests you and would benefit the children. Even if your nanny-family can't afford to dedicate this amount to your training, you can arrange things so that the budget will accrue from year to year. This will enable you to attend even the more expensive courses every second or third year.
“I would love to have your support in my continuing education so I can do training like the RIE® Nurturing Nanny course once every year or two. Would you be able to give me some financial support in the form of $200 a year on courses we agree will benefit the family as a whole?”
3. Choose Your Training Wisely
Consider the needs of the family when choosing which trainings to attend. A family with a preschool-age child can’t realistically be expected to pay for your training in newborn care unless they have another baby on the way. It is always best to seek the trainings that the family you work for will be excited about. Think about what influences their parenting and choose classes to pitch to them accordingly. These classes are also the ones most likely to increase your joy at work!
“I would love to improve my vegan cooking skills for your family. What do you think about buying a few cookbooks for me to look over while Elsa is sleeping?”
4. Ask Both In Person and In Writing
I always ask my nanny families about upcoming trainings both in person and in writing. First, I bring up the course in person and express my interest. I share with the family how this course might help me do even better by their children than I already am. It is important that the family sees how authentically excited and interested you are in any training. Make sure to relate the benefits of the course to this family specifically, instead of talking about how it will benefit your long-term career or your resume.
“It’s been exciting for me to hear about your child-led approach to toilet learning. Your way sounds much more respectful than what my previous families did, but it’s new to me. I found an online course that I think will help me be successful in doing it your way. Can I show it to you, so you can tell me if I’m on the right track?”
If the family seems interested and supportive, follow up the discussion with a short email. Share links to the class and to a blog article or two talking about how the course has helped others. Give them the dates of the course and show consideration for your current schedule if the class will require you to take time off. Ask for a specific amount of compensation, in writing, to avoid confusion later.
“I’m glad you like the look of the toilet learning class. I see the tuition is $350. Can you support my learning and time by covering the cost of the course? Also, I will need to take time off on the afternoon of Friday, January 15th to attend the face-to-face webinar, so we should plan for that as well.”
5. Share Your Knowledge
Remember that you are attending this course to gather knowledge both for yourself, and for the whole family. Many families are also very curious about the course content. Take notes during the class and type them up nicely for the family to review. Share books, articles, and any other reading materials you are given access to. After the course, talk to the family about what you learned and how it is helping you care for their children.
Your nanny-family will be more likely to help fund your education in the future if they can see how much you are learning. If everyone in the caregiving team—parents, grandparents, nannies, etc.—can learn what you are learning, there will be more synergy and joy in your daily work.
“The course was so helpful. Thank you for helping me attend! The most useful thing I learned for little Praavi is…”
I hope this helps you feel confident about asking your current nanny-family for help paying for your continuing education. Here’s to happy learning!