Classes for Kids
What your children need to know to keep them safe whether they are babysitting or at home alone.
According to a recent Urban Institute report, more than 4 million grade-school-age children are left unsupervised on a regular basis each week. These "self-care" kids, commonly referred to as "latchkey" kids, are oftentimes ill-equipped to handle the responsibilities associated with being home alone.
With the recent surge of violence against children, particularly child abduction, parents should take the time to educate their children about safety while at home alone. Before leaving a child at home alone or as a baby-sitter, parents should review the following with the child:
- Make sure the child is comfortable with being alone and/or responsible.
- Make sure the child knows the address and phone number of the home.
- Leave a number where you can be reached.
- Review different situations that may arise (i.e. unknown visitors, a fire).
- Childproof the home (i.e. remove guns, medications, alcohol).
- Be clear about certain restrictions (i.e. which cooking appliances to use, how much television/internet time).
Safety is not the only concern for self-care children. Loneliness is another issue that can significantly affect these children. Children who spend great amounts of time alone tend to have academic and social problems. Parents should make sure their children have some planned activities, such as reading time, homework time, chores, sports and other physical activities, to keep them busy. This combats the effects of boredom as well as loneliness.
"Establishing trust between parents and children is necessary," says Pam Gardner, an education coordinator in St. Luke's Hospital's Community Outreach Department. "Although we, as educators, cannot set the rules for the children, we can help them better understand the importance of safety and responsibility."
Home Alone helps children, ages nine to 11, develop the skills needed to feel confident when home alone for short periods of time. Health care professionals will address the topics of simple first aid, safety and techniques to help manage boredom and/or loneliness.
For older children, the course Sitter Skills, is for beginning baby-sitters ages 11 and up, teaching them about basic safety, child development and first aid.
For more information on fees and future class dates, call St. Luke's Hospital at 314-542-4848. St. Luke's invites you to be connected to your health.