Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

My First Day at the Child Development Center

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It’s been awhile since I told you about in-processing as a Child & Youth Program Assistant. As promised, it’s finally time to tell you about my first day at the Child Development Center (which go figure I’m posting a couple days after my employment officially ended since I have been in a leave without pay status…I may explain that in a later post). Before I could be considered “in rotation” I had to do a couple days worth of observations. So much happened that first day I’m not sure I even absorbed it all.

I started off in the infant/pre-toddler room (babies through 18 months) and got to have my first awkward moment of many when I felt like I didn’t know how to change a diaper. Of course I’ve changed diapers before and it’s not hard. Heck I even had to change a diaper when I worked at the hotel because one guy’s wife was gone for the day and he claimed he couldn’t change his child’s diaper. So it shouldn’t have been a big deal to do it here.

But here there were so many steps and a specific order for everything. For example, I had to put down a paper liner or at least some paper towels on a changing table, get out the child’s own wipes and diapers, then go get the child. For anything more than a wet diaper or when needing to use something like diaper cream there were a few extra steps to take. I mixed up the order at least once. The lead in the room said that it’s even hard for those who have kids at first because it’s done differently here than at home, and someone’s watching over you, so I didn’t feel so bad.

PHV CDC, taken during out-processing.

Most of the first part of the day was either spent holding infants or playing with the pre-toddlers. Most of them were pretty happy and keen to crawl all over me which was fine. One was very tired and fell asleep on my lap. I’d have let him sleep but it’s only the babies who can sleep when they want. Pre-toddlers have to stay awake until nap time. Most of the kids were falling asleep during lunch which made lunch time a little difficult, but nap time was easier. During lunch, the lead offered that I could eat with the kids (grilled cheese, tomato soup, and bananas). It was early and I had eaten before coming in, so I declined. The girl said that was fine for then, but when I would be in rotation I would have to eat with the kids which was news to me as I thought we weren’t supposed to eat in the room.

After that I had my own lunch period. I hadn’t brought anything, figuring I could get something out of a vending machine. It turned out theirs only had snacks and not sandwiches or anything like the one a previous job had. Fortunately I had an hour for lunch and I could have walked to the commissary and back if I had to, but that day there was free pizza and soda, so I lucked out. When I first started, my regular schedule was only 6 hours so I only had a 15 min break (if I was lucky enough to have coverage) and wouldn’t have to worry about lunch.

After lunch I went to Strong Beginnings which is a pre-Kindergarten program for children who are four to five years old. There kids learn reading, writing, math skills, and  basic words in German and Spanish. They were a fun group. One kid, dubbed the class clown, especially cracked me up. He was always singing or telling jokes. When I called him by name to wash his hands before snack he said, “You know me? How do you know me?” Hah. I told him I know his name and his friend walked by and said, “Yeah you don’t know my name” which of course class clown told me, so then I did. The teacher assistant was making beaded bracelets and invited me to sit with the kids and make one, so I did. Then the kids had outside recess in the courtyard. Most played on bikes, but a couple played soccer and hoola hooped, and one collected flowers.

While they were playing, one of the ladies asked if I’ve worked with kids before. I hadn’t besides babysitting so she asked what made me apply there. That’s always an awkward question because I don’t have a background in early childhood education and I don’t have kids of my own (or want any but I hadn’t told them that because it hadn’t come up yet and I wasn’t sure how it would be received). I told her I like kids and get along with them and the job is close to where I live. She told me about people they’ve had who didn’t stay long and hated it. She said that if I want an honest opinion, I have to love the job. If I don’t, I should leave because otherwise it’s miserable. Later in the day, people asked how I liked it and said they hoped I would like it because they really wanted to keep people. I liked it so far; and was sure would like it better once it was more routine than overwhelming.

I was still at work at 6, but I took this a few minutes after I got home. I'm sure I'll write about my job at some point, but for now I'll just say that I work with kids and one of the classes I was working with was making bracelets and had me make one. I made the mistake of wearing it into the next class and all the girls wanted it, so if you're ever rotating through more than one class of kids, put away anything you made in one class before going to the next ;-)

The bracelet which you may have seen before if you followed my Photo a Day the week of June 8th-14th.

After that room, I went to the Kindergarten age group. I should have put away the bracelet I’d made in Strong Beginnings (which I was wearing) because one girl asked for it. I gave it to her, and she put it on and then gave it back but wanted me to make her one which I couldn’t. Later, a couple more girls wanted it. At one point I read them a book which was a new one for me, Miloli’s Orchids. One girl missed part of it so I ended up having to read it again when they had outside play time.

After the kids went in and we only had one girl left, the teacher asked me to empty the water cooler. I managed to dump it all over the floor which the girl wanted to help clean up. I was worried she was going to fall on it. It was kind of embarrasing when the teacher saw me cleaning it up, but on the way out of work I found out another girl did the same thing and had only recently figured out how to hold it without spilling it. She told me some people empty it outside and that seemed like a good idea. Once I got the hang of it most of the time I stuck with the sink though because the drawback to doing it outside is creating a mud puddle.

On one hand, my first day felt like a short day of work despite being 9 hours because it was mostly playing or observing playing and I got to change rooms every couple of hours. On the other hand it felt longer because there was so much information to absorb, so many different kids and other employees, and rules to learn, and so on. I figured it would get less overwhelming as time went on but by the end of the day I felt like I needed a nap.

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CYS coin I got before out-processing

As I mentioned on the post about my anniversary, I’d gotten sick off the first day of work. I still wasn’t recovered by the Monday I should have worked and had to call in. I was able to go in the next day to continue my observation hours. Unfortunately I have no idea what I did with the notes I jotted down after that day and don’t really remember enough to write a post, so unless I find them this’ll be the only post about training.

By the end of that Wednesday I was considered in rotation in toddler room. By the following week, was offered regular part time instead of flex. The hours would be the same, but I would get sick time and vacation. A few months later I was offered full time which gauranteed 40 hours a week, a little more sick time and vacation, and post allowance (which fluctuated but was around $110 a paycheck).

I spent most of the year I worked there in the pre-toddler/toddler room (18 months to 3 years old), but also had a couple months where I was mostly in preschool which I enjoyed. There were also times where I filled in in other rooms and at the desk and kitchen. I know some people said they were looking forward to hearing about work, but aside from this post and one I’ll eventually do on some of my favorite art projects, I’m not sure what to write about, so if there’s something you want to know about let me know and I’ll think about it!

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2 Thoughts on “My First Day at the Child Development Center

  1. hah, that’s funny that they said so many people left because they hated it. Way to scare someone of.

    I don’t know how I would constantly describe the jobs I had but basically after one initial post, I’d be over it, as well. Unless something interesting happens in terms of interaction with co-workers etc. It’s funny how a job defines so much of our lifestyles and time spent on it. But at the end of the day, it does not make up for most of the good stories we have to tell.

    • I know right.

      I stuck it out for a year. The things that were best about working there were some of the people…the things that were worst were some of the people. But I guess I could say that of most everywhere I’ve worked lol. Well, we do certainly get stories to tell. I’ve got notes of funny snippets to turn into stories from almost all the jobs I’ve had. I just haven’t sat down to turn most of them into anything. Maybe someday.

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