Learning how to be responsible for children

Teenage babysitters take a two-part course


What was your first job? It may have been a paper route, manning the cash register at McDonald’s or like many adolescents looking to make a little money, babysitting may have been your first taste of work.

To help the teenage sitters understand the responsibility of caring for other people’s children, the Peninsula Public Library held the first part of a babysitting workshop on Nov. 29.

There were 26 middle and high school students in attendance for the presentation, which was opened by Janet Schneider, PPL’s programming librarian.

Schneider covered some basics safety tips, such getting the phone numbers of family emergency contacts, know the alarm code and have a rate prepared when the parents or guardians ask your fee. She seemed pleasantly surprised that around half of the kids who signed up were boys. “We had some requests,” she said. “I guess there’s a real interest in it.”

Fourth Precinct police officer John Zanni fielded many questions from the hopeful babysitters. Keeping everyone safe during a fire, what to do if a stranger comes to the door and keeping things in order with rebellious kids were a few points he noted, however, he kept reiterating not to be afraid to ask for help. “If you’re scared, call 911,” he said. “No one is going to get in trouble, always feel comfortable calling if you’re scared.”

Tehilla Wolf, 15, began babysitting when she was 12 to earn her spending money. She saw this as an opportunity to learn a little bit more about the job, “I mostly take care of sleeping kids, but I’d want to take care of awake kids,” she said.

Wolf added that one of her favorite parts of the job is how cute the kids are. To have some fun at the end of that Wednesday night session, Schneider asked if they could come to a consensus as to when the children they will be babysitting are the cutest. Some thought it was at two- or three-year-olds, while others voted for first- and second-graders.

Zanni and Schneider both stressed being honest with employers about how much experience they have, a couple of boys raised their hands when they were asked if anyone had ever babysat before.

“If you don’t ask for it, then you don’t get it,” Zanni said, in regards to payment. He and Schneider agreed that they could start out low and charge more as they gain experience, and that they should feel comfortable charging more based on the number of kids they’re watching.

The second part of the series was held on Dec. 6 with a nurse and covered childcare, including diaper changes. Anyone who attended both events received a certificate of completion from the library, “It’s just something they can show any prospective employers,” said Schneider. “So the kids can say they’ve completed this course of basic babysitting skills.”