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Port Huron Rec offers babysitting course

Photo courtesy of porthuronrec.com A 10-hour two-part Babysitting Class will be offered through Port Huron Parks and Recreation in early November.

Certification provided for those 11 and up

By Barb Pert Templeton

Students, including pre-teens who want to learn how to be a safe, professional and reliable sitters will be pleased to know the fall session of the Baby-Sitting Class at Port Huron Recreation Department is coming right up on the calendar.

Boys and girls ages 11 and older are welcome to attend a two-day class on Friday, Nov. 5 from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $35 for residents of the city plus the following townships, Burtchville, Clyde and Fort Gratiot. 

Natacha Hayden, marketing coordinator for the recreation department said the course has been offered for several years and is taught by Port Huron resident, Maggie DeKoyer-Watson.

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Photo courtesy of porthuronrec.com
A majority of the Babysitting Course will be hands on with a booklet of helpful tips given to each student.

DeKoyer-Watson retired from RESA where she was employed as a recreational therapist and special education instructor for more than 30 years. 

Today, DeKoyer-Watson, 71, said she has been teaching the course in the area for 20 years now. Her interest in putting together a curriculum for a babysitting course came about after she started noticing lots of sitters being put in positions they weren’t prepared for simply because they weren’t trained.

The classes are offered once in the fall and once in the spring and include topics like diaper changing, feeding, first aid, CPR and creating and playing games to keep youngsters engaged. 

Presented in two sessions the course includes viewing a video, a booklet for each student with lots of tips and DeKoyer-Watson utilizes plenty of props too, including baby doll mannequins. Students learn how to properly carry a baby, plus dress and feed the infant. 

Safety is a major component of the babysitting course today and in particular personal safety.

Examples include what a young sitter should do if they hear a noise outside and even how to properly answer the phone.

DeKoyer-Watson said if a sitter hears a noise in the yard, they are taught that you don’t answer the door or call a neighbor, instead you call the non-emergency number for the police department. The police department will send a car to check on things.

Should the sitter answer the phone, they are instructed not to share their name or the fact that they are in the home babysitting. They simply say the parents are not available to come to the phone.

Even if the caller claims to be a relative, the sitter should still simply state that the parents aren’t available and offer to take a message.

Photo courtesy of porthuronrec.com Learning to bottle feed an infant, as well as changing its diaper will be part of the Babysitter Class curriculum.

She said the class often includes both boys and girls, although the boys are usually a bit older, maybe 13 or 14, and they may be enrolled so they can watch younger siblings. A typical class registers between 10 and 12 students but DeKoyer-Watson has welcomed as many as 20 at different times.

Another component she includes in the program is a visit from a representative from the St. Clair County Child Abuse and Neglect Council. They explain proper handling of infants and the dangers of ever shaking a baby. 

“I include a lot things because I want my babysitters to be good,” DeKoyer-Watson said.

She said there are also lots of games and activities so it’s not just sitting at a desk with a book and she does her best to keep the students entertained.

“We also talk about decision making, creating a resume and I tell them to do an interview with the parents to find out what they are looking for in a babysitter,” she said.

As to landing babysitting jobs, DeKoyer-Watson suggests students’ network within their family, friends and church circles, don’t just post a babysitting advertisement online or on a grocery store bulletin board.

Completion of the course provides each student with a certificate that’s not only through Port Huron Recreation Department but also the American Red Cross. 

To register before Nov. 4 reserve a spot online at porthuronrec.com/courses or call the recreation department at (810)984-9760.

The class will be held at the Main Floor, Recreation Center at 2829 Armour Street in Port Huron. 

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