Safe Sitter® is more than a curriculum—it’s a philosophy and an approach to teaching. Founder Patricia A. Keener, M.D. created a program to educate young teens and ensure every student had an opportunity to succeed. Motivated by her deep love of children of all ages, she believed that adolescents were not problems to be managed, but unique individuals with intrinsic worth.
Many youth-serving organizations analyze current and prospective programs based on the nationally-recognized Positive Youth Development Model (PYD) developed by Richard M. Lerner. If you are considering adding programs by Safe Sitter® and use PYD as a framework, the Safe Sitter® best practices listed below will help you evaluate if Safe Sitter® is right for you!
Caring: Having sympathy and empathy for others.
- Instructors are enthusiastic and committed to young adolescents.
- Every child is treated with respect.
- Instructors with caring behaviors serve as role models so students are more likely to behave in a caring manner towards children for whom they babysit, and ultimately for their own children.
- The students are encouraged to treat the dolls and manikins as real infants/children.
- The concept of no physical punishment is emphasized and the advantages of non-physical methods of behavior management are stressed.
- Age-appropriate comforting techniques for unhappy, hurt, or sick children are discussed.
Character: Taking responsibility and having integrity.
- Instructors who do not know the answer to a student’s question do not attempt to answer, but find the correct answer and then inform the student.
- Student and/or Instructor misinformation is corrected tactfully, but promptly. If any Instructor notices that the students have been given incorrect information by another Instructor, they are to correct the information promptly and tactfully.
Competence: Acting effectively in the classroom and on the job.
- Instructors are in control of the students. The limits of behavior are defined for the students at the start of the course.
- Every student question is answered appropriately and accurately.
- The schedules, found in the Instructor Manual, are designed to cover the material in a logical sequence and keep students engaged.
- The courses have been painstakingly designed to be developmentally appropriate for young adolescents and assure the likelihood for successful learning and retention.
Confidence: Believing in a student’s ability to succeed.
- Instructors utilize review questions as checks for understanding.
- Instructors give each student individual attention during skills practice in order to cheerlead good performance and correct technique errors.
- Instructors consider possible causes for student behavior in class (lack of sleep, hunger, boredom, anger, etc.) and look for positive ways to address them.
Connection: Ensuring all students feel safe and belong.
- Classroom climate is nurturing and learner-centered.
- Examples and questions are geared to the students’ culture, environment, and gender.
- The course is available to students regardless of race, culture, religion, gender, or income level.
- A friendly but professional relationship is established between Instructors and students.
- The Instructor establishes a rapport with students by offering frequent positive reinforcement and remembers that young adolescents tend to be insecure and need encouragement.
- The parents/guardians of Safe Sitter® graduates play a vital role in monitoring their children’s activity after course completion, whether their children will be home alone, watching younger siblings, or babysitting.
Contribution: Encouraging student participation.
- In order to maximize the likelihood of mastery, each student has adequate hands-on practice time with manikins.
- All students are encouraged to participate in the discussions.
- The Safe Sitter® course is a highly participative experience for the students. Student involvement, both verbally and physically, is a key component. The purpose of the low student-to-Instructor ratio for skills practice is to provide opportunity for skills assessment and constructive feedback.
For an in-depth look at the curriculum, check out a sample of our curriculum or read more about each section of the course. Consider adding programs by Safe Sitter® to continue to improve the quality of life for teens and families in your community.