Internship

Organization Profile

Curious Kids

Curious Kids is a child care facility that has multiple sites, which allows them to serve children from infancy, through school ages. They are a part of the Portage Public School system and pride themselves in their aim to encourage a high level of family involvement.

Mission

Our mission is to focus on the whole child and their family by providing a safe and nurturing environment that supports high-quality care and education. We provide an experience that focuses on children’s strengths and encourages acceptance and respect of others.

About School Aged Child Care

School Age Child Care (SACC) is a tuition-based program that is licensed through the State of Michigan. We are a choice-based program allowing children to move throughout the building to take part in multiple activities of their interest. Our choices encourage children to be independent while making their own decisions. This is accomplished by providing them a balanced program of open-ended play and structured activities. We believe encouraging social development with peers is important while being supervised by well-trained and caring staff. Our activities are planned to meet the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive needs of our school age children. Curious Kids would like to invite you to visit our program! Curious Kids has served the needs of our community for over 30 years! We pride ourselves as being the number one center of choice for families in Portage and the surrounding area!

Population Served

Curious Kids serves families in the community witch children between the ages of 6 weeks to middle school. They encourage the involvement of the whole family and like to help each family with the different obstacles they may encounter.

Phone

1-269-323-6780

Address

1010 West Milham Ave.,  Portage, MI 49024

Professional Skills Development Plan

              Having an internship is a great opportunity for me to grow as a person, and as a professional in the early childhood field. That being said, I would like to work on 6 specific things while I gain more experience with families at Curious Kids. The first skill I would like to focus on is enthusiasm and initiative. It could be said that I am an enthusiastic person, but I often feel that my job is to follow the lead of the professionals above me, and do not feel I have the ability to start projects that are not given to me. This summer I would like to take initiative and start projects that can help the teachers, the children and the classroom as a whole.  

            The second skill I would like to continue to develop is my communication skills. This summer I will have a higher level of parent interaction than I am used to, and I would like to gain the confidence as a professional to speak to them properly and make sure that the parents and teachers can work together to provide the best care for their children. I feel that I need to gain confidence in the knowledge I have and refrain from having conversations that only serve the purpose of completing drop off and pick up.

            The third skill I would like to enhance is having an openness to learning. I am excited to be a part of the Curious Kids team, and I would like to have an open mind and let both the children and the staff teach me things that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I believe I still have a lot to learn about the business side of a childcare center, and all of the work that goes into making the center run smoothly and properly. While I am also looking to gain confidence this summer, I want to make sure that I learn as much as I can from all of the hard-working professionals around me.

            The fourth skill I would like to work on this summer is having respect for diversity. I am hoping that I will get to meet people who are different than me so I can learn more about the many different kinds of people and families there are. I am particularly interested in families that have a diverse family structure and hope that I am able to learn more about them this summer. Part of working with families is helping them go through the harder years of parenting, and because every family is different, this can mean different things for everyone. I want to be able to help families no matter what kind of help and support they need so that they feel comfortable and encouraged at the center.

            The fifths skill I am focusing on is adaptability and reaction to stress. If I am confronted with a situation that is unsure of, I tend to become fearful, and immediately seek help from a professional with more experience. I often doubt that I have the right answer, or that the way I handle a situation will not be the way someone else would handle it. However, I would like to gain the ability to remain calm and handle the situation the best I can, and only go for extra help when I need it.

            The sixth skill I am looking to encourage is interpersonal communication. I would like to be able to properly establish rapport and communicate in a way so both parents and other professionals with think of me with respect. I would like to gain the confidence to speak as though I am a professional and would like to make sure that I have good working relationships with both the parents and staff. I do not want to shy away from topics that are important just because I am not a lead teacher. I will have to use the knowledge I have to help parents who need help with certain areas of raising their child.

A common theme in the skills I have chosen to focus on is gaining the confidence I need to be a good teacher. When working with families in childcare, it is important that both the children and the parents feel comfortable with you as a professional, and that the parents and teachers work as a team. In order to ensure that each child is getting the best care, I would like to hone these skills and try to be the best that I can be for the sake of the children, and the comfort of the parents.

Documentation of Professional Development

As the summer ends, I look back and realize just how much I have learned from this experience. I knew that this position would challenge me, and give me new places to grow professionally, but I never imagined I would feel this different by the end. The first skill I decided to work on this summer, was taking initiative and starting productive tasks without being asked. I wanted to show that I was confident in knowing what needed to be done and that I was self-sufficient.

              Little did I know that this summer I would have an unlimited amount of opportunities to step in, and take initiative. In the classroom I was placed in for the summer there was one other support staff and a lead teacher. This lead teacher had just started at Curious Kids and would need a short period of time to adjust to our daily schedule and the normal operation of the program. During the first week of the summer program, I was able to demonstrate how we normally get the children’s attention, how we typically split between rooms for activities and a few strategies for helping the classroom run smoothly.

              As the summer continued, there were things that would be left incomplete even after the room was told multiple times to have those tasks done to make our schedule possible. After leaving enough time for the lead teacher to take initiative and complete those tasks I eventually completed them for her. This pattern repeated itself all summer and resulted in me completing most of the lead teacher’s responsibilities. Although it was a lot of extra work, I am glad that the work I put into this classroom helped ensure that each child had a fun, safe summer. For example, I was able to plan some extra activities for our children to do during free time. My favorite activity we did this summer was a STEAM activity where we used plastic water bottles and straws to make a working model of a heart as shown below.

The second skill I was looking to improve this summer was communication, with parents as well as co-workers. I had plenty of opportunities to communicate with the parents and make sure that they had all the information they needed and enjoyed taking on that responsibility. Our policy at Curious Kids is that if there is an accident that has anything to do with the child’s head or neck, we immediately call their parent to inform them. Although I was nervous the first few tries, I eventually became comfortable with calling parents while they were at work and let them know the proper information.

Since there were many tasks that the lead teacher failed to complete after being reminded by our managing headteacher, there were a few confrontations within our classroom. Being able to work with someone that I do not agree with all of the time has helped me gain the skill of expressing my opinion and accepting feedback so we can move the classroom forward in a positive way. After my experiences this summer, it has become clear that in uncomfortable situations I am able to remain calm and handle the conversation in a professional manner to ensure a healthy work environment.

The third skill I was focused on this summer was to have an openness to learning. This was achieved this summer when I encountered a child with Sensory Processing Disorder. I had learned about SPD in one of my courses at Western Michigan University but had never met a child who was diagnosed. I understood how he processed things differently but was unsure of what to do when he became overwhelmed and began throwing objects like chairs, books, and toys across the room. After talking with my superiors, and having more experience with this child, I was able to recognize when his senses were overwhelmed and take him for a walk before the situation escalated. He enjoyed using small sensory and fidget toys to help calm him down, and we created a special bond that I will never forget.  

I have also learned a lot about setting expectations for the children in advance, so they are aware of what is expected of them rather than telling them after they failed to meet classroom expectations. This was done by warning them in advance about cleaning up, going over rules for special activities and reminding them how we should solve a problem when we become upset. When the children were given reminders beforehand, they were much more prepared and willing to follow the expectations that had been set for them, and I enjoyed seeing them be successful, so we were able to spend more time having fun.

              The managing headteacher for my classroom also taught me that it’s ok to have a different method or strategy for a specific child. I was originally wanting to make sure that everything I did was consistent and fair to each student but she showed me that because some children learn differently, sometimes they need something different than the other kids. For example, for one child we used a clip-up-chart to reward him for good behavior and after he reached a certain spot on his chart, he was able to pick on behavior coupon as seen below.

15 Minutes of Scree–n Time15 Minutes of Extra Gy–m TimeParticipate in Battle of th–e Books
Popsicle or Sucker Ms. Shayna’s Helper for 30 Minutes Show the class a video (must be appropriate and less than 3 minutes)

The fourth skill I chose to develop this summer was having respect for diversity. This was easily possible due to Curious Kids being the largest childcare center in the area. I was able to work with children who had different family structures, who come from different cultures than I do, and I was able to learn more about them. No matter what happened the children were open to new ideas and beliefs, and it was refreshing to see how they accepted each other without any sort of judgment.  I was able to meet co-workers who had outlooks on life that were extremely different than mine but was able to see it from their point of view, and politely explain why I think something different.

Altogether, Curious Kids was very kind and accepting and has demonstrated just how loving a childcare facility can be and I hope that I have more opportunities in the future to share that same kindness to children and families who need it. I have become close with many people at Curious Kids and will miss them dearly after my internship is over. I could not have asked for a better experience or one that could have tested my limits in a way that has helped me grow as a professional.

The fifth skill I was looking to expand this summer was working on my reaction to stress. Since I was essentially running my classroom, and doing most of the headteachers’ job, I was under more stress than I should have been and became frustrated with the situation very quickly. However, after a week or so of being frustrated with what was happening in the classroom, I had a conversation with my supervisors and told how I felt and what was going on. They comforted me and assured me that I was doing what I needed to and not to worry about the tasks that were not in my job description.

After that conversation with supervisors, I was able to let go of the negative emotion much easier and was able to focus more on my relationships with the children. Without the children there to fill me up with joy, I am not sure I would have been able to finish my internship. They are the heart of everything I do and showing up every morning is worth it when I get hugs and get to hear “I missed you”, from the kids in my room. Because I was able to handle the stressful summer in my classroom after someone quit, the supervisors chose me to lead a different classroom, and I am so excited to make more connections with the children. I am now in a position to make the decisions and complete the tasks I need to without worry about stepping on toes and doing someone else’s job for them. I gladly accepted the position as a leader and am excited to see where the rest of summer will lead.  

The sixth and final skill I chose to enhance this summer is interpersonal communication. I wanted to make sure that I conducted myself in a professional manner, and that I was able to gain respect from both the parent and other people I work with. Having several disagreements arise over the summer has helped me to practice calmly explain how I feel and why I feel it, and it has also help me gain respect from co-workers and supervisors because I was able to contain myself, while others had a harder time remaining professional. Through this experience, I have gotten a clear picture of just how important communication is, and how much it plays a role in daily activities when working with other people.

Without the level of communication, we maintained this summer, it would have been nearly impossible to keep the children safe and achieve all of the fun activities and events that we were able to share with the children. For example, every hour, there is a number count for each classroom to ensure that the number of children we have in the classroom matches the number of children that are checked in to our classroom. This helped us stay alert and aware of each and every child so that there was a maximum level of safety. I am grateful that this center has processes like these in place to show how much they care about the safety of the students.