Class helps kids become better babysitters


by Jean Enersen

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Posted on June 25, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Updated Saturday, Jun 25 at 12:24 PM

"We're going to throw these away and pretend they're all ooky," said Better Babysitters Educator Taryn Oestreich, to a circle of her young students as she held up a diaper.

They were practicing how to diaper a baby. It helped that the baby dolls didn't squirm, cry or smell yucky. It was a more-or-less dry run through of skills they'll need when the real babysitting begins.

Students also presented skits on child safety.

"Be aware of anything in the home that can cause a burn or a fire and move it out of reach," said one.

The single day class offered tips and a guidebook to orient students to the sitting business.

"Tips on being professional and communicating with adults, and then we really go over child development basics, how to handle emergencies and illnesses, and then activities and play," said Oestreich
The eleven to thirteen year olds in the class are just reaching babysitting age. But some had already taken a second child safety class.

"I'm already certified in CPR, so they wouldn't have to worry about that," said thirteen year old Shanna Hauser.

"I have learned so much. I now know everything about babies. I never knew that much," said eleven year old Kellen Gibson.

The Better Babysitters approach promotes learning child care a step at a time.

"We recommend that kids start out by being a parent helper. Either taking care of children where the mom or the dad or the guardian is home with the children, so they can sort of see the lay of the land how the household works, what the guidelines and the rules are in that household," said Oestreich.

Later in the day there was help for those who had nervous reservations on caring for kids. Eleven year old Jessica Mead explained her jitters.

"Toddlers love to pull your hair, mess with you, and, I don't know, that does not sound like fun to me," Mead said.

One remedy the students learned was to bring along a bag filled with age appropriate games to make the day fun.

"Puppets are great because they're fun for infants and they work with pre-schoolers, and they're great for school age kids who like to make their own skits and plays," Oestreich said.

They were all lessons that sent the new sitters off with confidence.

The organizers said it's class policy not to give out student information, so the best way to make sure your sitter has the skills is to sign them up for a class.

Better Babysitters is offered through a partnership between Seattle Children's and Overlake Hospital. Organizers say classes fill up quickly. There are other classes offered for new sitters including a class through the Red Cross.