Teaching Babysitting Skills Through Organized Play

Children love the thought of being awarded the roll of “Babysitter.”  It’s a big title with a lot of weight and meaning behind it.  It means

THEY ARE IN CHARGE.

Or at least that’s what they *think* it means!

More accurately, it means they are trusted by mom and dad enough to be allowed some form of authority in a younger sibling’s life.  They are most definitely not THE authority, but during the time they hold the roll of Babysitter, what they say carries weight and has the power of, “I’ll tell mom and dad,” behind it.

But, they have to be good leaders.  They have to gain the respect of their younger siblings.  And they have to possess the skills it takes to care for younger children.

So, how do you begin teaching these skills?

One of the best ways to teach babysitting skills is through organized play.

Often, we will begin by letting an older-younger babysit a toddler sibling in a confined area.  This could mean in a playpen, a play yard, a swing, a high chair or a bedroom (that is safe from choking hazards).

Why a confined area?

1. The younger child is less likely to escape.

2. The older child is less likely to become distracted.

3. If the older child does become distracted, the younger child is still “safe.”

We also give the older child ideas for what and how to play.  They can feed the baby in a high chair, they can push the toddler in the swing, they can hand toys to the little one in the play pen, they can play cars or blocks in the play yard or bedroom.

This is “organized play.”

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8 thoughts on “Teaching Babysitting Skills Through Organized Play

  1. I let my children do this as well :o) It is nice that they are finally getting old enough to at least act as an extra set of eyes for mama. (mine are still pretty young)I feel the helper growing in skill every year.

  2. Our kids are still too young to watch the other (3 years and 17 months). It is cute to watch them try. It will be so great when we have more to watch them grow. Thanks for posting, so delightful to see your beautiful children :)

  3. I’m pregnant with my 2nd & reading your blog makes me want a gaggle!! Kids learn so much when they have a lot of siblings. However, I think talking my husband into this would take an act of God! :o)

    I had a question, what do you think about unschooling? Are you familiar with the concept?

    • Hi Abby! Welcome! I am familiar with unschooling; however, I much prefer a more focused approach that has many of the same wonderful concepts behind it. Delight directed is what most people call it. You can look through many of my posts and see that common thread and read books like Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally Clarkson and The Christian Homeschool by Gregg Harris.

  4. I haven’t ever thought about teaching babysitting skills to really young ones before! Thanks for pointing out opportunities. At what age do you allow your children to stay home alone and stay home with a younger sibling? just wondering! thanks :)

    • We started with our oldest at age 13, but only for VERY short stints and usually AFTER the baby was down for the night or out with us. However, you have to keep in mind the child. Our son is super responsible and is first aid certified. That said, we have yet to leave town with him in charge…perhaps someday.