"safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires"
~24 P.S. § 13-1327.1 Home education program
In PA, homeschoolers are required to teach fire safety every year. My favorite reference site for homeschooling in Pennsylvania, AskPauline.com, has a great page that gives many creative ideas for teaching fire safety. We had an opportunity this week to move beyond the worksheets and participate in Fire Safety Day Camp. For two hours a day, three days this week, they are learning all about emergency services.
The first day of camp a local police chief talked with them about crime prevention. He showed the students how handcuffs and leg irons are used to keep criminals from harming others. The kids really enjoyed learning about how a taser works. Next they learned about the jobs of EMTs and ambulance drivers. They were able to tour two different types of ambulances. The grand finale of the day came when the local hospital helicopter landed on the field and the kids were able to get inside and talk with the pilot.
Day two involved discussion of fire prevention and fire safety. They learned how to escape a burning building and how to make a 911 call. The volunteer fire fighters put on their equipment and showed how each part of the uniform helped to keep them safe. Then the instructors demonstrated rope rescue. The kids split into teams and had a hand in pulling a 'victim' to safety.
Tomorrow they are going to use fire extinguishers, man the hoses on the fire trucks and end the week with a giant water battle. (I'm guessing the fire hose will play a part in this.)
Overall, it has been an excellent NO COST program for my children.
When we originally signed up, I was told that parents were free to stay or leave their children. The camp was split into two time frames for two different age groups. My boys both fell into the morning group, ages 7-10. I decided I would stay because I thought it would be interesting and I also didn't really know anyone involved with this program.
On the first morning, I found another homeschooling mom to chat with during the program. She said to me, "I can't believe how many parents just left their kids here." I hadn't really thought about it too much, but when she mentioned it, I realized how most parents are used to leaving their kids with strangers on a daily basis. I know that school teachers aren't really 'strangers' because they are employed by the school and have been thoroughly investigated to a point that we need not worry about our children's safety. However, it is a practice that may not be second nature to those of us in the homeschooling world. When given the option, I often stay to see what is going on with the boys. Not necessarily because I think that I can't leave them, but more out of curiosity. I want to know what they are learning so we can talk about it later. Some might think that is being over-protective or smothering. At this point, my boys don't seem to mind my almost ever-present self. So as long as they let me...I'll be there learning with them.