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Should Nannies Be to Blame When Kids Fail in School?

Your nanny's job description includes the following task: “assist kids with their school work, ensuring that all homework is completed before the parents get home and adequate studying occurs the evening before each test or quiz”. You and your nanny believe that your kids are performing adequately in school, but during parent-teacher conferences, you learn that homework is not being turned in and test and quiz scores are very low. Your kids are failing in school. Is your nanny to blame?

Before that question can be answered, you need to get to the source of the problem. Visit with your kids. In a calm, non-confrontational manner, ask them individually (one-on-one) why they are not turning in their homework. Also ask them why they are struggling with their tests and quizzes. It is important for parents to understand what is happening that may be creating the difficulties. Are the kids feeling overwhelmed by their classroom experiences or their academic work? Do they dislike their teachers and/or their classmates? Are they feeling intimidated? Is it that their completed homework is in their backpacks, but they won't give the completed homework to their teachers? Are they choosing to cast themselves in the class clown or class rebel role? If any of these issues are involved, you should remedy the problem(s). Remedies may include securing tutors for your kids, speaking with your kids' teachers about relationship concerns in the classroom, etc. Encourage your kids to speak openly with you and your nanny about any concerns or difficulties they may have. Emphasize the importance of good grades. If your kids have made a choice to get poor grades when they had the ability to get better grades (if they are casting themselves as the class rebel, for example), then you also need to specify consequences for not pulling grades up to an acceptable level. (Note: only take a redirective stance on this issue if your kids have made just such a choice. Otherwise, your best approach is supportive.)

In each of the above examples, the nanny should not be held accountable unless she knew of the difficulties and did not report them to you. If she knew about the difficulties and did not communicate with you about them, then you must speak with her about your expectations of her, including that she keep you in the loop on what is happening in the lives of your kids. If a problem such as this arises again, you should begin progressive discipline for her failure to perform her job adequately.

In contrast to the above examples, if, while visiting with your kids, you are told that your nanny does not adequately prepare them for tests and quizzes and does not ensure that homework is completed each day before bedtime, then it is time to follow up with your nanny.* As with your visit with your kids, you should approach your conversation with your nanny in a calm, non-confrontational manner. She may tell you that she has, in fact, fulfilled her job duty relative to the kids' homework. If this is the case, you will need to do some fact-finding to determine where truth rests (does she or does she not provide the help needed to your kids?). She may admit that she has failed to perform her assigned job task. She may tell you that she had what she considers to be a good reason for this non-performance (in which case, you should find out what that good reason is). Let your nanny explain, from her perspective, what has been going on. If your nanny is found to have provided the necessary help, despite your kids' attestations to the contrary, then you need to follow up with your kids about honesty. If your nanny did not provide the necessary help, then you need to hold your nanny accountable. If she had what she considered to be a good reason for her failure to perform her job task, then her failure to communicate with you, at a minimum, is worthy of redirection. If she had no acceptable reason for her failure to perform her job task, you should redirect her behavior for that non-performance. If there is a recurrence of your nanny's failure to communicate or failure to perform, then you must initiate progressive discipline.

In sum, when kids fail in school, parents should seek information before placing blame on nannies or any other parties.


*Note: you need to follow up with your nanny after you visit with your kids even if there is no alleged wrongdoing on the part of your nanny. Your nanny needs to be kept in the loop on your kids' academic standing so that she can assist them properly.


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