4-H course teaches the ins and outs of child care
By Tracy F. Seelye, Express editor
HANSON — Where do good babysitters come from?
Parents seeking dependable child care while they go out for the afternoon or evening are sometimes confronted by the challenge of how to find a good sitter.
Plymouth County 4-H helps to increase the supply in an effort to meet this demand by offering babysitter certification courses, which provide an overview of the ways to keep young charges safe and happy. The certificate of participation students received for the course attests to the six hours of instruction in safety and appropriate diversions for different age groups as well as hands-on practice in diaper changing and the crafting of “boo-boo bunnies” with which to ice bumps or scrapes.
CPR certfication comes with a different course not offered by 4-H, but this class offered guidance on when and how to deal with first aid needs and when to call in help. Basic nutrition and bottle feeding were also covered.
“It helps parents realize they take babysitting seriously and that they have thought out some form of training,” said instructor Evelyn Golden, a program assistant with Plymouth County 4-H. “I encourage them toward getting certified in first aid and CPR.”
Golden was assisted in conducting the class by 4-H Ambassador Emily Capasso, an experienced club member and role model who mentors 4-H youth.
“I am glad Emily agreed to share her stories of being a babysitter and how babysitting has allowed her to choose a major that will allow her to work with children when she graduates and leaves for college,” Golden said.
The next course Golden teaches will be at the Pembroke Library, but a date haas not yet been determined. Golden has already conducted the class at libraries in Whitman, Abington, East Bridgewater and Scituate. They are often held once a year in each town.
On Saturday, Aug. 9, a group of about 15 tweens and young teens attended such a course at the Hanson Public Library — four of them boys.
“That is the most boys I’ve had in a class to date,” Golden said. “Of the six classes I’ve taught, I’ve only ever had one other boy sign up, so to get four in a class was pretty exciting.”
She said two of the boys were very interested and the parents of another thought their son should do it.
The students entered the library’s Community Room yawning at the compartively early hour for a class on a sunny summer Saturday — 9 a.m. — but soon Golden was peppering them with thought-provoking questions and exercises.
She started off with an overview of her own expertise.
Growing up in a small Kansas town, Golden said she babysat a lot for her siblings as well as the children of teachers and friends.
“The fact that I had been babysitting for these people led to my first non-babysitting job when I was in high school,” she recalled. It also afforded her a change of scenery when she took a job as a nanny while in college, which brought her to the South Shore in Massachusetts. It also inspired her to study early childhood development in college and led to her starting her own daycare business and eventually to her post at 4-H.
“You’re thinking of babysitting as a couple of extra bucks here and there, but it could be something that could carry you and affect you into the next step of your life,” she said.
Babysitting skills also transfer effectively to the responsible care of the frail elderly, which can help them assist with family situations, according to Golden.
“Today is your chance to shine and show me you are ready to become a responsible babysitter — that you are ready for parents to leave their children alone in your care,” she said.
The students began by discussing age-appropriate contents of a “babysitter’s magic bag” that good babysitters bring along to help them entertain young charges and good storybook choices to read to children of various ages.
Some basic rules of deportment were also reviewed:
• Never answer a knock at the door while babysitting.
• Ask the parents how and if they want the phone answered.
• Never spend time texting or talking on the phone with friends.
• Be prepared. Know the children’s names and ages ahead of time, their bedtimes and any allergies and other information parents may need you to know.
• Know the street address in case of emergency and get parents’ cell phone number.
For more information on future babysitting courses or other 4-H programs, visit the site plymouthcounty4h.org or call 781-293-3541.