Babysitting Course goes Zooming

With the challenge of COVID, and the lack of contact The Connections Bus Project has been able to have with young people, it felt even more crucial for us to get our successful Babysitting Course up and running on Zoom.

The ten-week course has a full programme teaching and showing young people how to be a safe and confident babysitter! In the classroom, was fun, we were able to have lively discussions, demonstrate practical skills, and most importantly share our fun and laughter over a hot chocolate and donut! Putting this course on Zoom – where we all stare at a screen – was going to be a challenge! Our Group Agreement insists that we ‘have fun’ and ‘encourage each other’. So this is what we set out to do …

Having advertised the course through Secondary Schools, via our Website and our Facebook pages, we had 28 young people to place on two separate courses. Limiting our numbers enables us to have the opportunity to get to know our members and allows space for everyone to take part.

Youth Workers were recruited from our team, Teacher’s Guides supplied and training set up. Meeting on Zoom to run through the material and dropping into sessions that were already running to get a glimpse of the ‘live course’.

Confirmation emails were sent to our forthcoming participants, along with details of how to access our sessions safely and a list of useful websites.

Behind the scenes the Student Guide was printed, the A4 ring binders were ordered and assembled. A programme with dates of our sessions added and individual name labels secured.

A visit to the supermarket to purchase a range of refreshments and a pack of nappies!

Back at the office, brown paper packages were tied up with ribbon (to be used in a craft activity on week 5) – the packages contained a mixture of refreshments to keep our young people alert and happy during our sessions!

Individual bags were then filled with: a Student’s Guide, a brown paper package, a nappy (for week 4 when we teach ‘how to change a nappy’), and a craft activity (demonstrating a cheap and easy activity that they can take with them to entertain the children they are babysitting).

Time was then spent working out the best route to drive to home-deliver the bags. I have to admit this gave us the opportunity to work for a few hours as Amazon Delivery Drivers and get a glimpse into their working day!

It was great to have some doorstep conversations as the bags were deposited at young people’s homes. Meeting parents, dogs, cats and the young people themselves (often still in their dressing gowns – who can blame them whilst home schooling!).

And all this work takes place before we have even started …

Zoom meetings scheduled, details distributed to participants via email, and all set.

Then a reminder text message is sent to all young people so they have a number to call if they have any technical difficulties logging in, if they are unable to attend the session, or if they have any questions.  Yes, that’s 28 text messages sent. We also text the parents to let them know that we’ve messaged their son/daughter to ensure that communication between us all is fluent and everyone feels comfortable.

On the day of the first session – a quick text message to remind everyone of the log-in details. Zoom set up check and we are ready to go.

Session 1 – lovely to see everyone’s faces, find out something interesting about each other, look at the Group Agreement, discuss our confidentiality agreement and staying safe online, then the fun begins. Completing the Student’s Guide with details ‘about me’ and then discussing ‘what makes a good/bad babysitter’. Fabulous contributions from everyone (we ensure that everyone has the chance to speak out). The end of the session has arrived. Discuss completion of a short questionnaire in their folders and wish them goodbye.

A follow-up email is sent each week straight after the session. This reminds them of any information they may need and also has the ‘chat room’ notes attached. This way if anyone has slipped behind with the writing during the session, they are able to catch up. We don’t want anyone being left behind!

Then on to session 2. One member of staff off poorly, so new staff member recruited to fill-in. What a relief we have so many experienced and professional youth workers on our books.

Each week is completely different to the next, a new topic is covered, but they all interlink. Preparing each young person to be a safe and confident babysitter!

We have yet to arrange a Basic First Aid Course for all participants to attend. Once Lockdown is lifted, we will be able to book this in. It’s 2 hours of absolutely crucial information sharing from T J Johnson. Tony and Dayle pack a huge amount of practical training into the session and participants can’t help but go away having had a ‘memorable evening’!

During the First Aid Course, the Youth Workers/Leaders will look through each portfolio and ensure that young people have everything they need in the right places. We then issue their Certificates and return them to their owners at the end of the night.

This portfolio is then kept as evidence of what each young person has achieved, in their own time, outside of school, during COVID, and online! A huge achievement, we think!

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