A semaphore parade. Even the youngest children will enjoy a lesson on this subject, and will acquire a sense of discipline and a quickness of perception by its help
Indoors or out of doors the game can be played, and the result is that boys are keen to join the Scouts as soon as they reach the age, and the girls become quite handy little cooks and nurses, trained to be of considerable use in emergency. In a country village such teaching of the school children would be of real service to the community. In the long summer evenings batches of children could be given lessons once or twice a week, and they would derive a great deal of valuable instruction as well as pleasure from the game.
There is often a great outcry that the school curriculum does not teach girls anything of housewifery and home duties, and no doubt a remarkable amount of ignorance of practical housewifery, cooking, and nursing does exist in every class. Thus, anything which tends to make children interested in these subjects is good work from many points of view.
How to Start a Class
A class may consist of almost any number of children, but ten is perhaps the largest number which can be managed and controlled easily. Certain things will be required for the use of the class, but they can generally be made at home, and the children should be allowed to help in every possible way. Each child should have a couple of flags for signalling, and a regular semaphore parade should form part of the instruction.
Then stretchers can be easily made from sacks, with broom-handles or sticks passed through the side and piercing the bottom. A coat also, with the sleeves turned inside out, should sometimes be used. Splints can be manufactured from cardboard ; bandages and slings from unbleached calico, which can be purchased for a few pence a yard. A summer-house, or a room with a French window, makes an excellent hospital or dressing station, and a fire can be lighted in some safe corner for boiling water for tea, which the children can make for themselves as part of the game.
The teaching, in the first place at least, should be of the simplest description ; but it is wonderful how quickly the children learn, because they are keen, and interested in the play game which is not all
"pretence," but which leads to useful service for others.
Carrying the wounded to the dressing station. The stretcher consists of two brooms, passed through the sleeves of a coat. The sleeves are turned inside out and the coat is then buttoned down the front
If the class is at all large, it should be divided into four sets, the older or taller children being stretcher bearers and the others first aid nurses in the field hospital, whilst another batch would be learning cooking, housewifery, bed-making, and preparations for receiving the sick. Even the babies can help, as a little kindergarten class can be arranged for them with wooden boxes for beds and dolls as patients.
Everything must be done methodically and in order. All supplies should be kept in a special cupboard or room, and the children must put them carefully and tidily away at the end of each lesson. That is part of the training. Little lectures and lessons suited to the children's ages and understanding must be given.
After a time such a game as the following can be played :
A couple of children act as the wounded, and the teacher pins to the coat of each a little ticket describing the injury. They are told to go and hide themselves amongst the shrubs, and a patrol party goes out to look for them. Four of the big boys will act as stretcher bearers, and they have to be taught to lift the wounded child, who ought to be, of course, of rather a small size, into a stretcher, and to carry him to the dressing station or summer-house, where the nurses are ready with all appliances.
The stretcher bearers are trained in first aid work, and if they find that the wounded man is suffering from a broken leg, or haemorrhage, they must attend to that injury on the spot, as transport might have serious results.
Then, when they are taken to hospital, the little nurses have ready a bed for each of the wounded. This usually consists of a small mattress with a couple of rugs and a cushion. The cooks are in the kitchen preparing the gruel, warming the milk, or preparing a simple nursing dish from eggs and milk. The nurses know that a wounded person requires a hot drink when consciousness returns.
The detachment of little cooks or housewives have to provide what is ordered, and serve it neatly on a tray as quickly as possible. At the same time the young children are looking after their doll patients, and the whole four detachments are supervised by the teacher in charge.
The teacher has to see that the children put on the proper splints, and a good deal of teaching will be required before they can tie reef knots and handle the injured limbs and apply splints of the right size correctly. But it is wonderful how quickly they pick up knowledge in these hours of play, and a child of twelve can be taught quite easily most of the necessary practical points about common accidents. All the necessary-information has been given in a series of articles on first aid (see pages 871, 986, Vol. 2). .
The "hospital" where the children tend the sick and apply surgical aid to the wounded. This part of the work falls to the share of the little girls, who thus learn invalid cookery and first aid, as well as elementary nursing
A lady who started a class of this sort in North Lancashire said that the ambulance teaching was most useful. Accidents are always liable to occur, and by the means of this ambulance teaching children derive in addition a great deal of information about health and hygiene.
Many ladies have studied first aid who might turn it to profitable account by organising these ambulance classes for children. It would help to keep up their own training, as most people find that after a few years they have completely forgotten all they learned in their first aid classes.
It is an excellent idea to get the district nurse or the local doctor occasionally to inspect the work. This " inspection " greatly pleases the children, and makes them very keen on being perfect in their ambulance duties. Some extremely valuable information can be given to them about burning accidents, for instance. The mere teaching of a child what to do when the clothes catch fire might save serious injury in after life.
The children are taught that a person on fire should be laid on the ground and rolled in rugs, and that a child whose clothing has caught fire should never run about, but lie down at once and try to extinguish the flames by rolling on the floor.
The little nurses are told the value of hot bottles, hot flannels, and hot plates for all accidents attended by shock. They are shown how to wrap hot bottles in flannel in order not to burn the skin of the patient, and they learn gradually how to act in emergency, and are much more likely to keep their heads - and be useful when an accident occurs. The lessons should be given as much as possible out of doors, because of the health value of fresh air, but the game can be played both in summer and winter.
Whilst a certain amount of routine must be observed, a great deal of varied instruction can be introduced from time to time. By following the guide book of the Girl Guides or Boy Scouts very many ideas are suggested, and children are likely to be interested if given some teaching in signalling and "trekking" and other outdoor subjects.