EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 17, 2013

Timberlane students learn babysitting skills

Timberlane middle-schoolers learn child-care skills

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — PLAISTOW — When Ashley Lane, 11, started babysitting for her younger siblings, she thought it would be a breeze.

She soon realized it was anything but.

“They can get very hyper at times,” Ashley said. “It was a lot harder than I thought it would be.”

Ashley’s tough time handling her siblings, led her to joining the Babysitting Club, an after-school program at Timberlane Regional Middle School. The club, which is in its second year, is taught by Stacey Mulhall, an eighth-grade consumer education teacher.

“Children start to get involved in babysitting when they are about 11 or 12,” Mulhall said. “They will soon find out that it’s a lot more involved than just plopping the kids in front of the TV.”

Mulhall teaches basic safety precautions, activities and how to secure a job.

“When I was babysitting, no one taught me anything,” she said. “I didn’t know about calling 911 or what to do if a stranger came to the door. You have to be prepared before you go into this.”

Many of the techniques she teaches comes from a child development class she used to teach, she said. The class is no longer offered, which prompted her to start the club last year.

“There was a huge need for the students to have this kind of experience,” she said. “This is the age where they start babysitting or even just become parent helpers.”

About 10 students come to the club each week, each looking to perfect their skills.

“We get a certificate saying we know how to do this,” said Naomi Prevo, 11. “This experience will help make us more attractive to families looking for babysitters.”

“I want to be able to control kids’ stubborn fits,” said Abigail Davis, 12. “When they are throwing tantrums or throwing things, I want to know what to do to calm them down.”

Caysie Quevillon, 11, said she hoped to learn the proper way to speak with children.

“When they back talk to you it’s hard to deal with,” Quevillon said. “You don’t want to scream at them. You want to make sure you use a moderate tone, but it’s not as easy as it looks.”

Babysitting is more than just taking care of kids.

“We talk about how you actually find a job,” Mulhall said. “We discuss good practices, what to expect to get to paid, etiquette inside someone else’s home. Even things for them to be aware of, like not to take a ride from someone if they are intoxicated.”

Babysitters can expect to make at least $10 an hour, Mulhall said.

Mulhall even teaches the students basic first aid.

“I teach them how to handle minor things like splinters and bloody noses, things where they wouldn’t have to call their parents,” Mulhall said.

She conducts the club during the fall and the spring. The club meets for four weeks after school.