Babysitting is a pretty standard first job for many tweens and teens. But no matter how many times they've taken care of younger siblings, educating them on how to react in different situations is key.

Babysitting is a pretty standard first job for many tweens and teens. But no matter how many times they've taken care of younger siblings, educating them on how to react in different situations is key. What happens if a child gets sick? Who is to be contacted in case of an emergency?

The American Red Cross teaches young people these fundamentals plus the business of babysitting through their babysitter's training course. Offered at recreation centers, churches and various other locations around Columbus, the course is designed for 11 to 15 year olds and focuses on preparedness and responsibility.

"Our motto is to be prepared," said Stacie Pelton, a chapter instructor trainer with the Red Cross. "As new babysitters, they haven't had the life experience yet. Reminding them of what could occur helps them to have a plan."

Typically, the course is taught on a Saturday. During the seven-hour training, students (which include boys and girls) cover six main topics: leadership, business, child development, basic care, emergency situations and home safety.

Pelton, who has taught classes and trained instructors for the course for the last five years, explained that these skills not only help them in childcare, but in other life scenarios.

"These are transferable skills for life," said Pelton.

Each of the topics is described at length, and exercises and activities allow students to practice and process what they learn. For example, part of the basic-care lesson includes feeding, diapering and properly holding a newborn nursery doll. The students also learn how to save a child who is choking - a necessary skill for receiving their course-completion card.

Ellie Jobe, a Dublin 13-year-old, took the Red Cross course quickly after meeting the age requirement.

"My mom encouraged me to do it," said Ellie. "My sisters had taken it, and more people might hire me if I took it."

Over the past several years, Ellie and her older sisters have shared babysitting responsibilities for families in their neighborhood. When school is in full swing, Ellie babysits once or twice per month.

"It's helpful to know what to do when babysitting," said Ellie, "like what to do if someone gets hurt, or what kinds of things to ask before the parents leave."

Students are encouraged to always ask these questions and stay informed. Those who go through the course receive a handbook and other materials full of information, which Pelton recommends they review frequently.

"It's an intense course in a positive way," she said. "but most are extremely enthusiastic to be there."