Innovative online course teaches babysitting


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Bailey Miller is feeling confident about her newfound babysitting skills — even if she can’t put them into practice right now.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/04/2020 (1132 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Bailey Miller is feeling confident about her newfound babysitting skills — even if she can’t put them into practice right now.

The almost 12-year-old was set to take a babysitting course through her school this year, but those plans were sidelined when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“I was looking forward to it,” Miller said, explaining that she was excited because she wanted to “learn how to babysit my baby sister and I really like spending time with littler kids.”

SUPPLIED Students ages 11 to 15 take the 10-hour Canadian Red Cross babysitting course over five days with instructor Mitchell McCausland (centre) of Aqua Essence Swim Academy. Also on screen is Aqua Essence founder Rishona Hyman (top centre).

Luckily, her mom found a workaround through local company Aqua Essence Swim Academy, which has been offering the Canadian Red Cross’ babysitting course online for the last month.

Students ages 11 to 15 can sign up to take the 10-hour course over five days with one of Aqua Essence’s certified instructors. The daytime lessons cost $65 and are delivered through Zoom. Each student receives a learning package before the session starts and a Red Cross certificate upon completion.

“It was pretty good, I learned quite a bit,” Miller said. “Like how to put on a band-aid properly, diapering babies, behaviours of different levels of children.”

Aqua Essence is a private aquatics school in Winnipeg that runs swimming lessons and first aid programs for more than 1,000 students each year. Owner and instructor Rishona Hyman pulled the plug on in-person lessons in early March and signed up for a pilot program to figure out how Red Cross certified courses could be taught online.

“We were one of three places across Canada that were chosen,” Hyman said. “It was great, we sent in a full-detailed lesson plan and they sat in on our course through Zoom.”

So far, Aqua Essence has run the babysitting course for more than 100 young people in Winnipeg and beyond.

“We’ve actually had kids participate from Alberta and Ontario,” Hyman said. “Because it’s virtual you can be anywhere — it’s so exciting because kids can take it with their cousins or friends or family members that don’t live in the same city.”

Instructor Mitchell McCausland sees the babysitting course as a way to fill the gap for families who have lost their extracurricular activities during the pandemic.

“This is a fantastic way for kids to use this time effectively to hone their leadership skills,” said McCausland, who has been a swim teacher and lifeguard for 11 years and an Aqua Essence staffer for six.

He has been pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement he gets during online courses and the format has forced McCausland to hone his verbal communication skills.

“If a kid is holding a baby in an incorrect way I have to find new ways to tell them to lift their elbow up or grab them in a new way, whereas I probably would’ve just gone and shown them in-person,” he said. “It takes a little bit of extra time.”

Twitter: @evawasney

Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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