The Best Nanny Money Can Buy By Adam Davidson, The New York Times
Mary Poppins may have had her bag of tricks, and her spoonfuls of sugar, but she is no match for the modern real-life nannies today.
The responsibilities have greatly increased. Some families expect their nannies to have a college degree, speak several languages, cook, clean, and handle the children. It is no wonder that some “elite” nannies are demanding six-figure salaries! This article explores this new phenomena and the reasons it exists. Excerpt:
“It took Zenaide Muneton 20 seconds to convince me that she was the perfect nanny. Short and dark-haired, she has a goofy, beaming smile and knows how to make everything fun for a little kid. Time to brush your teeth? She shakes her hands and does a pantomimed teeth-brushing dance. Bath time? She pumps her arms up and down in a going-to-the-tub march.
After I told her I’d love to hire her, she smiled and thanked me. Then we both laughed, because there is no way I could possibly afford her. As one of New York City’s elite nannies, Muneton commanded around $180,000 a year — plus a Christmas bonus and a $3,000-a-month apartment on Central Park West. I should be her nanny…I began to wonder if price conveyed any important information about the nanny market… This fear led me to the Pavillion Agency, which specializes in finding domestic workers for New York City’s wealthy.
Pavillion introduced me to Muneton, 49, who grew up in “a very poor family” in São Paulo. In 1990, she befriended a young American woman who had relocated to Brazil. When Muneton invited her to her family’s home, the woman saw her natural ease with children and suggested that she move to America and become a nanny. Within a few months, Muneton was caring for the children of a rich family in South Carolina for only $100 a week. When Muneton started working through Pavillion in 2002, however, she increased her salary to $85,000 a year… How does a nanny earn more than the average pediatrician? The simple answer is hard work — plus a strange seller’s market that follows a couple of quirky economic principles…According to Pavillion’s vice president, Seth Norman Greenberg, a nanny increases her market value if she speaks fluent French (or, increasingly, Mandarin); can cook a four-course meal (and, occasionally, macrobiotic dishes); and ride, wash and groom a horse. Greenberg has also known families to prize nannies who can steer a 32-foot boat, help manage an art collection or, in one case, drive a Zamboni to clean a private ice rink…”
So how do parents choose the right nanny? How do nannies choose the right families? Read this story in its entirety to find out the advice offered by the experts.
Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Language Skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: approximately 2 hours.
Materials: student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.
Objective: Students will review and discuss the article concerning the reasons for the high salary increase for nannies.
I. Pre-Reading Tasks
A. Stimulating Background Knowledge
1. KWL Chart
Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about the topic. Later in the Post Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.
2. Pre-reading Discussion Questions
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions concerning nannies and their duties.
1. Have you ever held a job as a nanny? If yes, describe your responsibilities.
2. Aside from caring for children, what should the duties of a nanny entail?
3. How much money do you think the average nanny makes?
II. While Reading Tasks
1. Vocabulary- Synonyms
Directions: have students choose the synonyms (the words closest in meaning) for the words in bold. Have them use The vocabulary organizer by Freeology as a guide.
1. She shakes her hands and does a pantomimed teeth-brushing dance.
a. express meaning through gestures
b. use hands while speaking
c. write down expressions
2. As one of New York City’s elite nannies, Muneton commanded around $180,000 a year.
a. a group of people considered to be the poorest
b. a group of people considered to be the happiest
c. a group of people considered to be the best in a particular society
3. I began researching this bizarre micro economy…
a. very amusing
b. very common
c. very strange or unusual
4. But I began to wonder if price conveyed any important information…
a. to make (an idea, impression, or feeling) known
b. to make a transfer
c. to make a deal
5. This fear led me to the Pavillion Agency, which specializes in finding domestic workers…
a. not foreign or international
b. a person who is paid to help with tasks related to the home/family
6. As she gathered sterling recommendations, she began increasing her pay.
a. excellent; exceptional
c. poor quality
7. Muneton bought a nice house for her mother, a condo for her sister…
a. short for condolences
b. short for condominium-(individually owned apartments or houses)
c. short for condone
8. She also owns a beach house in Brazil, a penthouse in Miami…
a. an apartment on the top floor of a tall building, usually expensive
b. a place where animals are kept
c. a small house
9. How does a nanny earn more than the average pediatrician?
a. a medical practitioner specializing in care of the feet
b. a medical practitioner specializing in children and their diseases
c. a medical practitioner specializing in diets
10. The simple answer is hard work — plus a strange seller’s market that follows a couple of quirky economic principles.
a. characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits
b. characterized by normal traits
c. characterized by funny traits
11. A typical high-priced nanny effectively signs her… life over to the family she works for.
a. To write well
b. a manner that does not achieve a desired result
c. a manner that achieves a desired result
12. According to Cliff Greenhouse… that kind of commitment is essentially built into the price.
a. being dedicated to a cause, activity
b. being free to do as one pleases
c. not caring
13. Many clients are paying for the privilege of not having to worry about their child’s care…
a. not liable
b. a secret right
c. a special right, advantage
14 …a nanny increases her market value if she… can cook a four-course meal (and, occasionally, macrobiotic dishes)..
a. food prepared by biologists
b. prepared foods that is based on Taoist principles
c. food prepared with the use of a microscope.
15 …families prize nannies who can… drive a Zamboni to clean a private ice rink…
a. a machine used to resurface ice for skating
b. a car
c. a motocycle
16. A lot of families, especially new money, are really concerned about their children getting close to other very affluent children…
a. free flowing
b. great quantities
c. having a great deal of money
17. I’m working with a phenomenal Caribbean nanny right now…
18. Nannies can be evaluated in the same way as what economists call experience goods…
a. form an idea of the value of; assess
b. lift higher
c. counted on
19. But price is useless — or worse, misleading — in differentiating among the adequate.
a. above average
b. satisfactory or acceptable
20. I couldn’t think of any other field in which people with such disparate educational backgrounds could make the same amount.
c. different in kind
B. Reading Comprehension
2. Questions for Comprehension – True/False
Directions: If the statement is true, students write (T) if the statement is false they write (F) and provide the correct answer from the article.
- Zenaide Muneton was short and dark-haired with a goofy, beaming smile.
- Muneton was a regular nanny, who commanded $50,000 a year.
- The author and his wife were looking for someone to watch their son for a few hours a week.
- They wanted someone someone who could speak a foreign language to him, and who had a college degree. ?
- The author and his wife lived in Manhattan.
- Pavillion Agency specializes in finding domestic workers for New York City’s wealthy.
- Muneton, grew up in “a very poor family” in Rio de Janeiro.
- Within a few months, Muneton was caring for the children of a rich family in South Carolina for only $100 a week.
- When Muneton started working through Pavillion in 2002, however, she increased her salary to $85,000 a year.
- Muneton accompanied families on private jets to many of the world’s most exclusive resorts.
- She owns a beach house in Puerto Rico, a penthouse in Miami and two properties (a six-unit building and a duplex) in Los Angeles.
- Many clients are paying for the privilege of not having to worry about their child’s care, which means never worrying if their nanny has plans.
- It seems that there are too many “good” nannies always on call.
- One way a family can families, get their children close to affluent children is to find a superstar nanny who already has lots of contacts.
- Two reasons there has not been any sort of serious study on nanny quality, is because it would be nearly impossible to get permission from nannies, and most child-development research is dedicated to at-risk children.
C. Grammar Focus
Directions: Students are to identify the nouns in the following paragraph, then use as many of the terms as possible to write their own paragraph concerning nannies. Have students review ESL Voices grammar: Nouns.
“How does a nanny earn more than the average pediatrician? The simple answer is hard work — plus a strange seller’s market that follows a couple of quirky economic principles. A typical high-priced nanny effectively signs her (and they are almost always women) life over to the family she works for. According to Cliff Greenhouse, Pavillion’s president, that kind of commitment is essentially built into the price. Many clients are paying for the privilege of not having to worry about their child’s care, which means never worrying if their nanny has plans. Which, of course, she can’t, pretty much ever.”
III. Post Reading Tasks
A. Reading Comprehension Check
1. Graphic Organizer: Cerebral chart by Write Design
Directions: Have students use the graphic organizer to assist them with discussing or writing about the main points from the article.
2. Fill in KWL Chart
Directions: Have students fill in the last column of the KWL chart they used in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.
B. Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Seth Norman Greenberg vice president of the Pavillion Agency, states, “A nanny can increase her marketability if she can help manage an art collection, draft correspondence, wash and fold 50 linens a day and help set up philanthropic events. Bonus points if she can do it all in Mandarin.” In your opinion, is this too much of a demand for a job that initially enlisted nannies to help with child care?
- What (to you) are the most important elements of being a nanny?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of working as a nanny?
- would you ever consider taking a position as a nanny? Describe the type of family you’d like to work for.
- What might happen if a former nanny such as Zenaide Muneton, had to hire her own nanny? How do you think she would treat them?
1. Essay Writing
Directions: Students choose one of the topics and write an essay. Review ESL Voices Modes of Essay Writing.
- Write an essay in which you describe the “perfect day” in the life of a nanny.
- Many women (and men) are willing to sacrifice their own family life to make money working as a nanny for an affluent family. Provide reasons why you agree or disagree with this idea.
- Go online or in person to an agency that specializes in hiring out nannies. What are their requirements for nannies? What is the salary range? How long are nannies expected to work with families? Overall, did you like the service? Explain why or why not.
IV. Listening Activity
Title of Video Clip: 5 Tips for Applying with Nannies on Call
“Nannies on Call receives hundreds of resumes when posting for a job opening. Watch this video to find out the 5 things you can do to get your foot in the door and get the best chance at getting the job.”
A. Pre-listening Tasks
Directions: Before viewing the video, place students in groups and have them make a list of what they think the 5 tips might be and why.
B. While Listening Tasks
Listening Comprehension - True / False statements
Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- Michelle Kelsey is a nanny.
- Nannies On call receive over 100 resumes a day.
- 79 percent of these were deleted.
- If an applicant addresses an email sir or madam, it will be deleted.
- Nannies On call are looking for people with lots of experience.
- It is important to reference Nannies On Call when writing to them.
- It’s ok to misspell a few words in your cover letter.
- In relation to cover letters, name 3 grammar points that are mentioned.
- The “Wow” factor is the way a candidate stands out.
- Posting on You Tube or telling a great story are ways to stand out.
- Nannies on Call expect their employees to give at least 50 percent to the job.
C. Post-Listening Tasks
Questions for Discussion
Did you feel that these tips were helpful to prospective nannies? Explain why or why not.
In addition to the list presented in the video, are there any other tips or advice you might add?
Do you think that this advice fits in with the information from the article “The Best Nanny Money Can Buy” ? Explain why or why not?
Suggestions for Group Projects:
Place students in pairs or groups and ask them to create short scripts for roles plays involving families interviewing nannies. Have them think about the types of questions a family would ask a nanny; the type of questions a nanny might ask the family. Students can perform the skits in front of the class.
In groups, have students create posters advertising their nannies. They can find an online site (like Nannies on Call) to get some advertising ideas. Information such as salary, times, duties, languages, and degrees should be included.
Please come back again.