This blog post is written by Cindy Weaver, who is a Red Cross babysitter instructor.
As both a mother of two and an American Red Cross babysitter’s training course instructor, I understand the anxiety of leaving my kids in another’s care, yet also know how incredibly capable teen babysitters can be when properly trained. I love to teach our babysitting course and even enrolled my own daughter into the course when she was old enough to babysit. She went on to become a great babysitter, and two of her charges even attending her wedding years later last October, showing just how powerful the bond can be between children and a great babysitter can be.
So what do we do in our babysitting class? Here’s a typical day in the life:
It’s the morning of a Red Cross babysitting class, one of my favorite days, since I get to instruct a new set of teens. I set up the room and place out all the essentials: the “babies” (i.e. our mannequins), bottles, diapers and other items for the afternoon’s hands-on sessions.
Here in Huntsville, Ala., where I’m based, we offer courses during school holidays, and my sleepy, even grumpy students to start rolling in. I know they don’t know what to expect, and I’m hoping to surprise and excite them today.
Just like my daughter did years ago, the students make nametags for themselves and the “baby” they will be learning to take care of today. They start to loosen up as I lead them in an icebreaker before we jump right into the material.
Rather than lecture them, I lead a discussion where everyone chimes in on the topics of leadership, the business of babysitting (since many parents look to adults rather than teens for childcare), appropriate activities and toys for different age groups and safety. Teenagers have definite opinions and love to express them and I’m always surprised by the creative ideas they share, many of which I hadn’t thought of before!
After lunch, it’s “hands-on” practice time. We pick up the “babies” and learn to feed and diaper them. Many of the students are surprised to find there is more to these activities than they thought and intently practice getting them just right.
Next the students take turns pretending to be unconscious, choking and bleeding while the other trainees “rescue” them in our first aid session. They learn when to call 9-1-1, how to use a breathing barrier and how to recognize an emergency situation. The teens have moved from being sleepy and grumpy to working comfortably side by side and having fun.
Our class is winding down and I hand out certificates to each student as part of our “graduation ceremony.” The students go home with their bandaged arms and shiny new credentials and I’m exhausted! I hope they feel getting up early today was worth it. I know the families they babysit for will think so.
If you’d like to learn more about our babysitting course or how to register, please visit redcross.org/babysitting.