Friday the 25th of March was my third visit to the UCP: Children’s Center in Camp Hill. This trip was different because I actually got to engage and play with the kids this week. Since it was a Friday, and there were only two other adults this week, I had my hands full in taking care of the kids. There weren’t as many kids, only six, because parents were off for Easter and didn’t need to bring their children in. The day started with putting up paper all over the walls so the kids could draw and write. The other adults and I helped the kids spell out their names and certain words, being that they are only three years old and not really the best readers in the world. The whole day had an Easter theme, because an Easter story followed this, read by one of the adults. Two of the kids had trouble sitting still, one child with intense ADD and one child with a mental disability. So not even being able to get through the whole story, she put a video on instead for the rest of the time and the kids instantly shut up.

I think that putting up this paper so the kids can learn how to spell certain things is obviously good for their learning abilities, but it totally made me think that this would only provoke them to write on the walls at home; a piece of paper would have been equally as educational rather than having them write on the walls. I also noticed that the child with ADD would only be quiet when the adults gave him snacks. This also made me think that this kid would learn to associate his behavior with getting rewards, also not a good thing. Lastly, on a positive note, for the first time I noticed that the adults called the kids “friends” rather than “kids”. This put the kids on a more equal level and would help them behave better possibly.

I think that I would have done the same Easter theme for the kids, which was a great idea because kids love candy. Also, I can relate to the adults in that they put a video on to calm the kids down, I would have done the same in this aspect too because the kids wouldn’t behave, so what better than TV to save the day. The adults handle the kids very well and I can learn how to handle them better by some of the techniques that they use, other than giving them food to shut them up and letting them write on the walls.

This morning was my first experience, after the orientation, to actually get engaged with the children at the UCP: Children’s Center in Camp Hill. My first hour or so consisted of observation, which was advised by Gina, the superviser of the operation. I was put in with the 3 year old group, and am going to be staying there rather than being moved around to other age groups. This way the kids recognize who I am in the future. There were 11 kids in the class, and 3 adult supervisors to oversee the operation. Only 3 of the 11 kids had disabilities. The 3 children with disabilities were mentally disabled, but still very normal 3 year old kids.
All of the children were basically normal 3 year olds, very easily excited and distracted. In no way were they scared of me, I was frequently called upon by them to come play instead of taking notes. It was a typical 3 year old day care. There was an educational movie on health (called “Moo to You”, Drink Milk for Strong Bones), sing-along time, snack time, play time, the whole nine yards. By FAR, the best part of the day was the puppet show put on by the 4 year olds for the 3 year olds. There was also an exercise after the movie to help the kids learn what foods are good for you and what foods are not.
The three adults working in the classroom were more than welcoming to me.
They embraced me with open arms and got me involved in all the exercises, which made me feel extremely comfortable from the start. There was no awkwardness whatsoever. Thus, I got to sing-along and act like a whole bunch of different animals in accordance with the song.
One of the children liked touching the other kids, so I couldn’t help but think of Lionel Essrog from Motherless Brooklyn. All in all, the experience was fantastic, and although I was tired early in the morning, I had a sudden burst of energy the second I walked in the door.

I didn’t get to do an orientation until this past tuesday morning, Feb 28th, before class. I actually stayed around for about an hour after my orientation to see what the UCP: Children’s Center in Camp Hill was all about. After being around the kids for only an hour, I had realized that my initial view had already changed. I also felt that I needed to write about it.
First of all, the UCP: Children’s Center is not strictly limited to children with disabilities. A large number of the children at this establishment are actually just regular children in day care, with an age range of 5 years old and under. The children with disabilities are in NO WAY singled out at all. The Children’s Center provides therapy for the children with disabilities, but the children who are receiving the therapy, for example let’s say the child has a speech disability, do not ever KNOW that they are receiving therapy. The therapists do not single the child out by taking them for a one on one session. Instead, the therapist will take a group of children, all of which but one may not have a disability, and work with all of them. I thought this was fantastic personally.
Since the day I went for my orientation was plagued with crappy weather, there were not that many kids at the center. So I got to meet the therapists and staff, who were very open in giving me information about their establishment and how they run shop. I haven’t even done a full time slot yet, but already I’ve learned alot about this place.