Teens kid around
Get a summer job as a super sitter
“I like to hang out with little kids. It’s a great way to earn some money,” says Nikki Lingad, who has averaged a babysitting job a week for the last year. Since she carries a heavy college-prep course load at school, the Wooster senior also prefers the flexible schedule babysitting offers.
With parents having fewer children and so many extended families separated by long distances, it can be difficult for young people to obtain hands-on experience as sitters. The care of a small child can be a daunting task even to a teen with younger siblings. Since 1997, REMSA’s Kid Care program has taught roughly 1,000 students the essential skills for babysitting. Originally offered on a quarterly basis, the Kid Care program has run monthly since 2005 due to popular demand.
The minimum age to participate in the class is 10, though most students are between 12 and 15. Class size is limited to four to nine students, and classes tend to fill up rapidly, especially during the summer.
The class lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and covers pediatric first aid, CPR, childcare techniques and arranging babysitting opportunities. Kid Care instructors have included daycare providers and EMT personnel.
Participants receive an overview of child development from infancy to adolescence. Other course topics include Shaken Baby Syndrome and how to prevent it, following house rules and creating age-appropriate activities. In addition to a course completion card and a student manual, each participant receives a dry-erase board to bring to the job to record parent and neighbor contact numbers, medical information, snack and bedtime schedules for the children.
Students also use manikins for CPR and to gain hands-on experience with baby handling, changing diapers and bottle feeding. For the First Aid portion, students work with each other bandaging, using splints and treating for shock.
Marin notes their classes often consist of girls. However boys have also participated in the Kid Care program, including an all-boy scout troop.
“We welcome anyone of any age who is mature enough to take on the responsibility of babysitting, who is able to physically perform compressions and breaths during CPR, and is willing to learn new ways to make babysitting activities fun,” says REMSA public education coordinator Alma Marin.
Though the needs of babies and small children haven’t changed much over the years, REMSA has adapted the Kid Care course over time to address current factors affecting childcare.
“There are more safety concerns about being home alone in our society today than in the past,” says Marin. “We emphasize safety measures a babysitter can take to avoid being targets while home alone with other children.”
In addition to the program at their facility, REMSA also offers on-site babysitting classes to parties of five or more. They bring all the necessary equipment to the group’s site. Though the monthly facility classes are usually in higher demand, previous on-site classes have included a mothers’ club and a Girl Scout troop.
“I really enjoyed learning CPR and child first aid tips,” says Josie, a seventh-grader at Depoali Middle School and a 2010 Kid Care alumni. “I highly recommend this class to anyone who is interested in babysitting. It taught me very useful information that I can use my whole life.”
Once the student has completed the course, Marin recommends telling family friends about the class. Friends of the family can be an excellent starting point for potential babysitting leads. There is a higher level of comfort since both parties know each other. Parents’ co-workers are another possible source for job leads. After a couple of successful gigs, a sitter may soon establish a steady client base through referrals.
“It takes a lot of patience,” says Lingad. “Some kids take a while to warm up to you. I play games with them or bring coloring books with me.”
As a closing piece of advice, Marin adds, “As an ambulance company, we emphasize to our future babysitters to never be afraid to call 911 if they are unsure what to do in a situation. It is better to be safe than sorry.”
Confidence is the key to success in any job. REMSA’s Kid Care program provides fledgling sitters with the tools, skills and confidence necessary to flourish and be safe in perhaps their first work experience.
Summer jobs for teens
Maybe babysitting isn’t your teen’s thing. To make some extra spending cash, there are still plenty of lawns to mow in town, lots of poop to scoop on those lawns, and an abundance of elderly and disabled people who’d love to pay a nice neighbor kid a little something to help with small tasks, like carrying groceries and cat litter in from the car or removing that dying rose bush.
And a note to all you younger, enterprising lemonade standers: Toss the Crystal Light and make fresh lemonade. Offer it in a couple of flavors like strawberry-lemonade or blueberry-lemonade using fresh fruit. You could probably even charge a premium and get repeat customers who buy it not just because you’re cute, but because it’s good.