If I were to write a list of things children should learn before they enter their teenage years, it would look something like this: cleaning up after themselves, taking public transportation and so on. It wouldn’t occur to me and many others to develop more ‘outdoorsy’ skills, especially in Singapore. When kids are being rushed to school to tuition centres to piano classes, they’ll hardly have a chance to rough-house in a field, except for the occasional family outing to the park or a supervised school trip. In both instances, there would be adults present to attend to them and guide them. Would kids really have to learn such ‘outdoorsy’ skills on their own?
Well, ‘outdoorsy’ skills are not just necessary for children, they are an important part of a child’s fundamental knowledge. We believe in equipping children with essential survival skills so that they can make good decisions to keep themselves safe. But even when they do, injuries can happen. This is where first aid knowledge will be important. The thought of treating injuries can be intimidating for some children, but it does not have to be. With a little knowledge and preparation, children will be less intimidated when handling the basics of first aid. It is helpful to start with injuries that require simpler protocols. Children from as young as 4 years old can be introduced to treatment for cuts, animal bites, burns, etc.
Also, learning first aid is more than understanding how to treat outdoor injuries, it develops a child’s confidence. This is because practicing first aid requires them to form their own opinions and take action. Good communication is another important takeaway. Children have to assess an individual’s injury by asking clear questions like “Where does it hurt?” before they can determine how to proceed.
A child equipped with first aid knowledge can not only treat their own injuries but also help the people around them! In fact, there have been multiple instances where young children have played a large role in saving another’s life. 4 year old Isla is a good example. When her mother collapsed at home, Isla made an emergency call after failing to wake her up. She calmly relayed the situation and her mother’s symptoms. Her actions alerted first responders, who were able to attend to her mother before her condition turned fatal. Even the simple first aid skill of making an emergency call and clearly describing symptoms can save another’s life. Research has also shown that children around 6 to 7 years of age have the capability to provide correct evaluations of consciousness and breathing. They are also able to provide correct information for emergency calls and position for recovery. This goes to show that children are more than capable of practicing basic first aid and it is not an ‘adult’ skill. So yes, we believe children can learn basic first aid and we believe they should. At this point, one important concern you might have is ‘How do we teach children basic first aid?’. To engage children in learning first aid, it has to be fun and simple! This way, we avoid overwhelming them with anxiety-inducing scenarios and too much information.
At Outdoor School Singapore, we pass on basic first aid knowledge to our young explorers through our programmes. We teach them about common outdoor injuries like animals' bites, heat stroke, cuts, burns, etc and the treatment for these injuries. You can read more about their adventures on this site!