I often hear the quote that teaching & nannying “is a work of heart.” I absolutely agree. I think most people who are drawn to working with children have innate qualities like patience, a sense of humor, empathy, and other traits that make our job easier and more pleasant. That being said, it’s important to add on to those natural talents with trainings and professional development! Nannying may be a “work of heart,” but it’s also a legitimate, serious career. Attending conferences, pursuing higher education, certifications, trainings, and reading the latest in child development can all make you stand out as a candidate and make you a more confident, competent nanny. Of course the downside here is that many of these opportunities can break-the-bank, so we’ve compiled a list of free professional development just for nannies!
There are a surprising number of completely free classes available to us as nannies! I do want to make a quick side-note here that Infant & Child First-Aid and CPR is a training that is typically not free and is 100% worth the financial and time cost. This should be a non-negotiable for any nanny, agency, and family. If you’re struggling to cover the cost of a First-Aid and CPR class, ask your nanny family to cover or split the cost with you.
Cribs for Kids: Safe Sleep Ambassador
Knowing safe sleep guidelines is so important. Completing this free training will make you a “Safe Sleep Ambassador.” They only ask that you commit to sharing the Safe Sleep Message with three or more other people, upon completion, to promote the health, safety, and well-being of infants.
Prepared Montessorian Institute: Learn the Basics of the Montessori Method
This is a free workshop for anyone interested in learning about the Montessori method, focusing on ages 0-6. If you want a refresher or introduction to Montessori methodology, this is a great starting point!
Texas A&M AgriLife: Various
Texas A&M has many free trainings available on childcare, and they do come with a certificate after completion! Learn about car seat safety, child growth & development, supporting children’s social and emotional learning, injury prevention, and more for free!
Red Cross: Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers – Why not spend an hour or two brushing up on water safety and minimizing drowning risk?
Richard Cohen’s Early Childhood Professionals: The Heroes of Our Time – Richard Cohen is an excellent speaker, and this recording left me feeling energized and passionate about my work with children.
Edx: Various – Edx offers free online courses about any and all topics from top universities around the world, but pertinent to us are the free classes on child development. At the time of publishing, there’s free classes about Children’s Rights from Harvard and Protecting Children from Columbia University available.
If there’s one silver-lining of Covid times, it’s that so many more conferences are now available online! There are truly a plethora of free online conferences and summits every year, about everything, and quite a few focused on child-rearing. Typically, these conferences are free to attend live, and you can choose to pay extra to get access to re-watching or to get a printable certificate. You’ll have to decide what’s right for you. I always sign up for the free-access, even if I know I’ll only be able to catch one or two speakers live.
Fairy Dust Teaching: Free to Play Summit
A free conference that covers the importance of play in children, the latest science on play and school readiness, and how play builds cognitive, emotional, & physical growth in children.
Teacher Tom’s Play Summit
A free 5-day conference with 20 sessions about play-based learning, conscious parenting, and practical tools for caregivers and educators.
A series of free masterclasses by well-known authors and speakers to get to the root cause behind challenging behavior, in-the-moment actions, step-by-step techniques, and practical strategies for a peaceful, loving, cooperative relationship with the children in your life.
I always see familiar faces like Dr. Tina Payne Bryson and Dr. Dan Siegel here. This 5-day conference focuses on using brain science & connection to raise resilient, motivated children.
The USNA and INA both have nanny-specific conferences each year that are excellent. These do cost money, but both organizations typically offer scholarship opportunities for nannies, so explore those options as well.
Webinars are often free and sometimes recorded for those who can’t make it live. Sometimes I’ll throw a webinar on while I’m getting ready in the morning or just listen to the audio while I’m cleaning and working on chores. Getting something out of a webinar while multi-tasking is better than never putting it on at all! Here’s some great resources to check out for free webinars.
Positive Discipline TV
Have you seen Sproutable and Positive Discipline’s joint-venture, PDTV, with a monthly interview about Positive Discipline? The conversations can be watched live or on YouTube shortly after. These have been an excellent brush-up for me and a chance to hear about how Positive Discipline shows up in more diverse communities. Check out the first episode with Dr. Jane Nelsen herself!
Sesame Street Communities
Sesame Street Communities has a list of webinars here about community, healthy habits, and other strategies for working with families.
Some of the INA webinars are free to all; others are only free to members, but there are many nanny-specific webinars brought to you by the International Nanny Association.
Nanny Care Hub
Lora Brawley hosts webinars and live chats about nannying throughout the year. Follow Nanny Care Hub on Facebook to see when these take place.
Thrive Family Consulting
Thrive Family Consulting is offering a free nanny training/webinar each month through 2022.
Adventure Nannies Summit Sessions
Adventure Nannies offers a free monthly training for progressive childcare providers. Our brilliant Julietta Skoog hosted a fabulous one about embracing sibling & peer conflict last year. Adventure Nannies is an amazing national agency; sign-up for emails from your local agencies to see what trainings opportunities might be available to you in-person.
This is a local resource. Our excellent parenting magazine here in Seattle hosts terrific parenting talks monthly. Check it out, or explore what resources your local parenting magazines offer.
I was late to the podcast game, but goodness, I sure am a fan now! During my drive to work and back home, I can knock out some serious podcast time. Here are three of my favorites:
Of course, I have to start with Sproutable & Casey O’Roarty’s Joyful Courage podcast! Casey is an excellent speaker on all things parenting and Positive Discipline. This isn’t for nannies specifically, but I get so much out of it. Check it out, especially if you’re working with older children.
Nanny ABCs Next Step
Danny Rosenthal is a super engaging interviewer and experienced nanny. Listen to his podcast to hear all about nanny-specific goings-on. (I even did an episode; check out number 57!)
Janet Lansbury and the RIE philosophy are such natural precursors to Positive Discipline, in my opinion. Listening to Janet Lansubry immediately chills me out and gets me ready for work. Again, not nanny-specific, but excellent content for anyone working with young children.
Okay, I know this is obvious, but books are an amazing resource! Use your local library to get access to these books for free. So many excellent books about child development come out each year. I don’t spend every naptime reading up on child development, but I have spent many nap times knocking out a few chapters. Parents are expecting us to be experts, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than by reading. If you find a book, author, or philosophy that resonates with you, check out their social media, website, and newsletter for more free resources. Sproutable’s nanny newsletter goes out every Tuesday full of tips and tools! I could write a zillion blog posts just on parenting books I love, but here’s just a handful that I’m constantly recommending:
Positive Discipline: The First Three Years by Dr. Jane Nelsen
This is one I go back to again, and again, and again. How do we communicate and encourage independence in young children? How do we encourage positive behavior? Whether you’re reading the whole book through or just reviewing how to refresh yourself on how to best handle biting, potty training, food issues, sleep issues – whatever it may be, this book is an absolute must!
Positive Discipline: Parenting Tools by Dr. Jane Nelsen, Mary Tamborski, and Brad Ainge
We know that what works one day with one child may not work the next day or with a different kiddo. Positive Discipline offers so many tools and ideas, and this book goes deep into examples, stories, and situations for each different tool. This is great for a deeper-dive into Positive Discipline.
The Whole-Brain Child by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson
All of Dr. Siegel’s and Dr. Payne Bryson’s books could be on this list, but if you have to start with one, I’d really encourage you to check out “The Whole-Brain Child.” This book has both the why and how of what a child’s brain is doing and how we can best help them when their “lid is flipped.” Neuroscience has never felt more accessible and relevant!
Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings by Dr. Laura Markham
This is an excellent book on how to navigate sibling conflict. Full of examples, advice, and scripts, this book is chock full of research-backed advice and trouble-shooting for when things aren’t working.
How Toddlers Thrive by Dr. Tovah Klein
I am always recommending this book to parents when their kiddos are in that 18-24 month range, and parents aren’t sure when and how their sweet baby turned into a wild toddler! This book is full of empathy and research to help during the “terrible twos” and beyond.
Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide by Rebecca Eanes
This book is so readable, as Eanes explains why and how to focus on connection and communication over punishment to raise confident kiddos.
Joyful Toddlers & Preschoolers by Faith Collins
One of Julietta’s (our amazing Early Childhood Lead) new favorites! This book is research-based and teaches you how to foster a mutually responsive relationship with children.
Have you already completed any of the suggested professional development opportunities above? Are there others that we missed? Make sure to save and print any certificates of attendance or completion for your portfolio, note on your resume all of your professional development, and share with your current employers when you do this extra work – families love to see that their caregivers are invested and growing!