by Caitie Greene
As a senior art therapy student at Lesley University, I’ve had many challenging and fulfilling internship experiences. I have worked with several organizations servicing young children, the elderly, and individuals living with dementia and developmental disabilities. While all of my internships have been valuable, my work at USES’ Children’s Art Centre has been by far the most rewarding experience. When I started my internship in September I was a little nervous and curious about the space and the children I would be working with.
To graduate, I needed to fulfill 180 internship hours for the fall semester. What would I gain from my final internship experience as a Lesley student? Right away I was greeted by friendly faces welcoming me into the building. I immediately felt accepted and welcomed into the USES community.
Most of my time is spent on the third floor, working mainly with the Caterpillar preschool classroom doing process based art projects and creative play. My favorite part of the day on the third floor is watching the children experiment with art without any fear. The projects do not emphasize a final artistic product. We do not demonstrate to the children how a certain art project should look. Instead, I watch as the preschoolers become invested in the joy of learning through artistic creation.
One Friday morning, the Caterpillars went through four stations all about color mixing and reactions. At one station, we put two primary colors of paint next to each other sandwiched between pieces of contact paper. This station allowed the children to mix the colors together by pushing on the contact paper to combine the colors. Although this station was originally meant to be mess free, the paint eventually came out of the contact paper and got all over the table. By the end the kids had paint all over their hands, but were laughing and loving how the paint mixed together to make a new color.
The preschoolers were not restrained by an idea of how the art “should” be. The project wasn’t as clean as originally planned, but the children were learning and enjoyed the process. These developmentally appropriate, process-based art projects are what make the Children’s Art Centre and Early Childhood Education program so unique.
In addition to wonderful interactions with the children, I’ve found support in my supervisor and the other staff in the building. I’ve gotten weekly supervision time to discuss my progress, leadership roles and any issues I might be facing in my internship. At the beginning of my internship in September, I talked with my supervisor about some goals I had while working at the USES Children’s Art Centre. These goals such as gaining a sense of leadership, understanding the inner workings of the USES organization, finding developmentally appropriate art projects for young children, and developing a personal professional role identity have all been discussed and achieved during my time here. The quality of a supervisor can make or break the internship experience, and I feel my supervision at the Children’s Art Centre has made my experience positive and more rewarding.
Beyond my supervisor, I often talk with the other staff at the site. I learn by watching how they effectively interact with the children on a daily basis. Working with children can be exhausting, and the effort put in by the teachers in the Early Childhood Education program is something I hope to replicate.
As I near the end of my internship at the Children’s Art Centre, I’m sad to leave the community that has so openly welcomed me into this learning experience. I hope to keep professional ties with the USES Art Centre in the future. I know all that I have learned and gained here will continue to stay with me long after graduation.