I have a very dedicated student at my barn who is wanting to teach beginner lessons (yes, that means taking away my potential clients...). I DO need SOME help though with beginner lessons since I have so many beginners, so I am thinking about allowing her to do so. She is a high school student, with experience from helping out at my camps, etc., and I trust her with the kids, BUT, does anyone else have the same feeling as me; is she too young? Or is it possible to be too young? Obviously she will not get my boarded clients or intermediate/advanced, but I am not sure if other people would agree if I allowed her to take on this little job to help her work with kids, which she absolutely adores, and to work off board. I trust her and everything, but what to y'all think? Should I let her? Is there anything wrong with it? Wouldn't it be strange if she's teaching an adult beginner older than her?
She told me she found a position at another barn as well, so I need to let her know of my decision soon so she can decide to teach at my barn or at another barn (still being my student either way.) I just don't know if I'm comfortable with it. I know there are tons of high school kids being part-time beginner trainers at barns, but I am not sure if people see this as a positive or a negative..
If any of you are trainers, please tell me if you would be comfortable or not. Or even parents, because I wonder if parents will think she's responsible enough to teach, although I believe she is.
I taught beginner lessons a bit when I was in high school as the owner of the barn was going through chemo and just couldn't teach at times. Most of the patents and kids knew me as I was out at the barn riding and helping out all the time so they knew me and were comfortable with it. I wouldn't necessarily have her teaching first lessons as parents might not be comfortable with it. If I had a kid going for a first ever lesson and I had no experience I would want an adult to talk to me about the program and set the foundation. As the parents get familiar with your program and this student/teacher then she can take over lessons.
Teaching? No. Probably not. I'd also wonder how your insurance company would feel about you adding a minor to your policy for them to cover. Or if she could even get her own policy.
Maybe give her the opportunity to shadow you for a while as you are teaching and have her work off her board with other tasks? Not just watch you but actively interact with you and the lesson student and with developing your lesson plans etc.
No matter how mature she is, it would concern me. There are some things that pop up and pop up quickly in a lesson environment that years of life experience keep from turning into a disaster.
That's my take as an instructor. As a parent of a student, I wouldn't want to pay to have a child teaching my child either, frankly.
She sounds like a great kid. Hope you can figure something out.
I would say no for similar reasons:
(1) liability insurance and
(2) maximizing quality of instruction for the parents/child
If I were a parent, I wouldn't want to pay the regular lesson price to have a child teaching another child. That is, unless the child teaching was an older teenager and very accomplished. The only other circumstance under which I might consider doing it is if I wanted to offer discounted lessons when that person was teaching. So if you normally charge say $50/hour for a private lesson, then charge $25/hour if this girl teaches or something like that. Only make it available to regular students, i.e. if someone is taking lessons from you X times per month (or week) then they are eligible for discounted lessons/practice rides with this person. Kind of a favor to your regular folks, but also helping give the girl some experience.
Again, I'd only do it if you or the girl has an insurance policy that covers this sort of thing.
I know when my trainer was interested in having me teach some lessons (different situation, she wanted the help, I didn't ask), it wasn't an option until I was 18. Insurance just wasn't going to go for a minor teaching other minors in what is considered an extremely high risk situation.
As the parent of a young child taking beginner lessons, I would not be comfortable with him being taught by an inexperienced minor instructor.
Here in Mass, instructors must be licensed and they must be 18 to get the license. In addition to a (rather silly) written exam, you need to do a 6 month/60 hours of apprentice teaching under a licensed instructor. My license is long lapsed, as I wasn't doing enough teaching after a few years to have enough hours to renew it. What I did was to start my apprentice hours when I was 17, so I could get the license as soon as I turned 18. I taught 2-3 beginner lessons a week, with my trainer in the ring with me. THAT, I would be comfortable with for my son...an older teen teaching him under direct supervison from an adult instructor.
I'm wondering if your insurance would be OK with that, if the teen taught under your direct supervision while still a minor? Here, I was teaching under my trainer's license and insurance as a minor, as she was right there. I know that wouldn't save you any time right now, but it could be an investment for when she IS 18 and your insurance might be willing to cover her.
My working students have always taught up down lessons. I think it depends on the quality of teenager and their level of professionalism. My WS frequently taught better quality lessons than many of the surrounding barns.
If you have doubt in your gut that you'll be comfortable with it long term, let her take the other opportunity. It would be a shame for her if you told her yes and then went back on it a few months later.
One of my first trainers was a guy in high school. As an adult, I had no issue with it because he was clearly accomplished at this particular place, relative to the other trainers.
Having trained now at other barns with more experienced trainers, I wouldn't lesson with a teenager. If the price is the same, I would want the more experienced trainer.
However, there's no harm having this girl help with the up/down riders, maybe training kids on the lunge line with you in the ring, etc, assuming insurance is not an issue. I agree I would not charge the same fee that you get because that might sour some clients.
Over the years the barn where I ride has had teens teaching some of the beginner kids. The teens were all fairly accomplished, solid riders who could handle it. To the 8yo pony rider a 17yo might as well be 40 and the teen has more energy than the 70yo head trainer to jog around with the leadliners or those needing more help when first off the lead. The teens only taught children, not adults. Some of the parents, having seen the head trainer "barking orders" preferred to have a younger and more soft spoken instructor for their children.
It is a great experience for the responsible teen, one that a college bound rider can add to his or her resume. As long as the teen is responsible and has guidance from more senior instructors, it can be a win-win.
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Do you have multiple rings or places with room for two lessons. I would be ok with it as long as you could be around the property when she is teaching just in case there is a problem, someone falls off or whatever. As long as she has enough riding and horse care knowledge and experience.
17 is a big difference from 13 and many are mature enough and quite responsible. It really depends on the individual teen. Younger kids seem to enjoy being taught by older teens.
The great way to ease a teen into teaching lessons is to have her in the ring assisting you and gradually move her into a more independent role.
The first job for an assistant instructor is getting the up/downers to the ring on time with stirrups adjusted, helmets on correctly and girths tightened. This can be a huge help to your program and allow you to put more actual instruction into the hour.
The next step is actual assisting in the ring - doing position coaching side by side with the seasoned instructor, working one on one with a child that needs a little extra help, being an extra holder while children are doing stretching exercises, leading ponies back out to the rail, and being the general picking up dropped crops and tying bootlaces person. When I had a working student performing this role, group beginner lessons went much more smoothly and the quality of instruction went up because I was able to focus more on teaching skills.
Next step is to have the teen take one kid at a time to the center or side of the ring and work on a particular skill while the senior instructor works with the group. Give her an assignment "See if you can correct Sophie's posting motion so she posts lower." or "Have her pick up and drop her stirrups ten times without looking down" and let her work with the kid to resolve it.
Another great intermediate step is to have the teen do individual 15 minute lunge line sessions while the senior instructor does something else with the rest of the group.
At some point after this you can ease her into more indepenent role, as much as your risk tolerance will allow. The best part of my instructing education came shadowing an instructor in the ring for the intermediate and advanced students. This is how I really fine tuned my eye, learning not only to see what was wrong, but how to fix it. Learning to set fences is a rare skill, and one you don't learn in a few sesssions. I learned by spending countless hours in the ring assisiting my mentor. Having someone in the barn who can quickly and reliably set fences while someone is schooling is a joy.
I am in no way dismissing any other posters very legitmate liabiltiy and marketing concerns about having a teen assistant instructor. However, if you can find a way to work her into your program while be mindful of those concerns, she can be an invaluable asset.
I don't see a problem with it, except for the potential liability/insurance issues. I taught quite a bit as a young teenager and sometimes the beginners I taught were three times my age. It's possible for a person of any age to be knowledgeable and professional and I never had a problem commanding respect from my students. Pony Club really did help me with that. As someone else mentioned, it's a required skill in Pony Club but I believe that having at least some teaching experience is vital to any well rounded horse person, teenage or otherwise.
It's possible she would be capable but...you are a little vague about her age and when she will be 17, enough to make me suspect she really is barely 16 at this point.
Between the insurance liability and the fact its a long way from helping at camp to actually running a lesson that may have kids with outside issues and problems that don't really "just love her" so much?
I just don't think it's a good idea for your barn and your reputation for running a good lesson program to have an inexperienced 16 year old in charge of a lesson of younger children. Even at a reduced rate.
BUT you could work out a sort of apprenticeship where she can shadow you in the ring and gradually increase her responsibilty in running the lesson. After 6 months or so, I might be comfortable with a near 17 year old who has been in the center of the ring so all parents can see and get to know her while you supervise. Assuming she is insurable of course.
Far as that other barn that wants to hire her? If they want to hire a 16 year old who has never run a lesson program as a regular instructor? That's their problem.
I vote keep her and develop her. If she goes anyway, leave the door open. She might be back as many promises made to young teens fail to materialize and she will get sick of mucking, cleaning tack and sweeping the barn aisle.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
Hmmm...my gut says yes. In Pony Club, teaching is a required skill for the higher level ratings. The PCer has to show they can competently and safely teach the unrated and D kids.
I guess you need to cover your butt, however, I think it would be a good thing if it can work. I taught a little bit when I was a teenager and really enjoyed it.
Agree w/ Yellowbritches here too. For me the main thing would be is the kid a capable and knowledgeable. shoot how many of you have high school kids helping w/ feeding & turning out? No apparent liability issues there right (until they get hurt). How knowledgable are they about signs of colic? would they notice a bad eye or cut? yes and no.
What would be the difference between highschoolers teaching riding a summer camp vs at a regular barn? Most likely liability / insurance, and possibly a CPR course/training as well.
If you trust this kid - know that she has the knowledge & skill (and patience) to teach; and your insurance is OK w/ it I say go for it. Knowledge is knowledge. As a parent who would you have rather teach your kids - a mature woman who just started riding and to offset the cost is teaching, or a 16 y/or who has been riding & competing for 8 years...
My doubts come from being in teaching barns for 20 years now and watching those up down lessons by once a week riders...sometimes taught by well qualified 17 year olds under supervision who thought they wanted to do it.
The 17 year olds usually don't make it thru the first lesson because those kids get frustrated and cry. They fall off and cry and the totally non horsey parent does a good bit of crying too when Muffy does not get the Pony to canter. Lord help you if Muffy takes a nose dive and Mom comes screaming into the ring.
Those are things a 16 year old is not really equipped to deal with-especially the parent who blames them and will tolerate no discussion of what went wrong and why did we fall off. They have no standing with that parent.
Nothing to do with the horses or competence or anything else. Everything to do with dealing with other peoples frustrated/upset children and their parents when things go wrong. Not to mention trying to fend off a lawsuit.
It's just not a good idea. Put in 6 months or a year of supervised teaching and it might be a good idea IF the insurnace allows a minor to teach.
The horses and ponies are the least of a teaching barns problems.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
While I agree that PC is a great venue for learning to teach, PC explicitly states that no child should responsible for the safety of another child. PC teaching is always done (or should always be done) under the supervision of an experienced adult. How direct or distant that supervision is may vary from club to club or situation to situation, but the operating principle is clear.
I think that's the line you have to walk with this from a liability perspective - you can make her into a fabulous, useful assistant instructor who's an asset to your business, but you can not let her teach unsupervised or when you are not physically present. Develop her for a year of two, and when she's 19or so, cut her loose to do some unsupervised teaching.