Child Life Students

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  • The university I am attending/will be attending does not have a Child Life program – what do I do? 
    • One of the many wonderful things about the child life profession is that you do not need to major specifically in child life to become a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). The university I attended for my undergrad did not have a child life specific major either – I majored in Family and Child Sciences and Spanish. Instead pick a major that relates to child life (i.e., child development, psychology, etc.).
      • “Applicants must have completed a total of 10 college – or university-level courses in child life or a related department/subject including a minimum of one child life course (defined below) taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). This is the form on which the CCLS instructor verifies that the child life-specific curriculum has been taught.” http://www.childlife.org/certification
  • Which classes specifically should I be taking in college that will count towards my eligibility assessment? 
    • This is a question I get asked VERY often. For such specific information, I always urge my readers to contact someone at the Association for Child Life Professionals (ACLP) so that they can give you the most precise answer. Email: certification@childlife.org  However, I can tell you that you need 10 college level courses that relate to Child Life including at least one course taught by a certified child life specialist. If your university does not offer a child life major or child life track, then they probably won’t have this course and you will need to take it elsewhere. I took mine as an online course from the University of New Hampshire. For more information on the 10 courses, click here: http://www.childlife.org/docs/default-source/certification/exam/cl-course-verification-form—final.pdf?sfvrsn=12
  • What is the “eligibility assessment”?
    • The eligibility assessment is basically the gate between all of the education and clinical work you have completed and sitting to take the child life certification exam. It’s great to begin the process of adding courses to your eligibility assessment form as soon as possible to make sure you’re on the right track. Once you have your Bachelor’s degree, 10 courses (1 of which was taught by a CCLS), and your internship completed, then you can submit your eligibility assessment. If approved, you may then register to take the certification exam. If not approved, then you will need to go back, fulfill the requirements and resubmit. For more information on the eligibility assessment process, click here: http://www.childlife.org/docs/default-source/certification/eligibility-assessment-process-pdf.pdf
  • Should I go to grad school right after I finish my Bachelor’s degree or should I begin my practicum/internship? 
    • This is another question that I often get asked which I cannot answer. Everyone’s adventure in child life is different. Personally, I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, then did my practicum, then my internship, then became certified, and a year into my career as a CCLS, I began my Master’s degree. This wasn’t the right path or the wrong path – it was just my path and what worked best for me at the time. For specific questions regarding your path, e-mail the ACLP – certification@childlife.org 
  • Do you need a Master’s degree to become a CCLS? 
  • Do you have any tips or suggestions on how I can stand out in the Child Life world? 
  • Why, yes! I do! In fact, I wrote all my tips on this post: https://adventuresinchildlife.com/2015/11/07/how-to-stand-out-in-the-child-life-world/
  • Do you have any advice on how to study for the child life exam? 
  • This is another frequent question I receive which I have also written about here and here.

 

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How I studied for the certification exam

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When I finally signed up to take my certification exam, I quickly became overwhelmed with what/how I had to study. The Child Life Council has a list of suggested materials for you to review before the test – ( http://childlife.org/files/CandidateManual.pdf — page 15) – but it can definitely be overwhelming to be given a list of textbooks as suggested study material . Here is what/how I studied for the certification exam (and yes, I passed on my first try!)

I began studying exactly one month before the date of my exam. I’ve never studied for one thing for so long with such a broad study guide so I knew I was in for an adventure.

Speaking of adventures, here’s a little timeline of my child life adventure – so you know where my studying starting point is: I graduated from college in spring 2012, took my intro to child life class in fall 2012, did my practicum in spring 2013, finished my internship in fall 2013, began working in January 2014, and was now taking the certification exam in March 2014. I’ve been consistently engaged with Child Life for 2 years – that being said, my studying was based on all that I’ve experienced and learned during my consistent Child Life adventure so I felt confident skipping over some material & focusing more on others.

So, first thing’s first: textbooks.

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I’m a very thorough note taker so having studied two of these books for my intro to child life course and the other two during my internship, I already had a ton of material to go over. I went through all of my notes of each chapter of each book and rewrote things I felt would come up on the test.

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The readings for ethics and the one for volunteers I had (luckily) made photo copies of from a friend and I’m so happy that I did! There were absolutely questions relating to these two topics on the exam. If you don’t have a copy of these materials already, get them! It may seem like a subject that’s common sense but reading through these two materials helped me a lot with various questions on the test.

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Another tool that helped me a lot were these two little gems from the Child Life Council. The study guide has great test taking tips and practice exams with answers! And, “the official documents of the Child Life Council” is a good resource to have whether you’re taking the test or not because it is filled with important information about our profession.

As for things I did not do:
– use the “child life certification exam” flash cards. I am HUGE on using flash cards to study but there was just so much information on each of the cards and a lot of lists “8 reasons ___”5 ways that children ___”10 most common ___”. I think I got through about 10 before I pushed them aside. They just didn’t “go” with my studying style.
– review a child development textbook or a nursing textbook. I felt confident enough with these two subjects based on all of my experiences leading up to this exam to be able to skip over them.
– try to rush or obsess over a question. While taking the test, if a question was unclear or if I was having trouble picking an answer, I left it blank and went back to it at the end of the test (you have FOUR hours!) This was a great tip because with the practice exams I noticed I would get ahead of myself and try and answer the questions as quickly as possible making me misread what the actual question was asking. Pay attention to what the question is asking and don’t be fooled by additional information given to try and trick you! and always always go back and reread your answers after you’ve completed your exam. always.
– study the day before the exam. By this point, I had studied for a MONTH. If I didn’t know something by this point I wasn’t going to learn it the day before the exam. My brain needed a much needed relaxing day off before the big show.
– freak out the day of. Sure, it was nerve wrecking, but as soon as I say down at the computer I said to myself “I’ve been studying every day for a month and I’ve been living this for two years. It’s time to answer some questions about this topic that I love so much.”

…And just like that, a (scary) two months later, I found out I had passed! (March 2014 exams took way longer to reveal test scores for some reason – lucky me. I’ve been told that you normally find out whether you’ve passed or failed immediately after you submit your test.)

Best of luck to all of you child life-ers out there studying!!

*Update 9/13/15* I have realized that the two resources on volunteers and ethics have been difficult to find. The copies that I have were photocopied and given to me along my Child Life journey so I am not even sure of the title of the book to be able to search on Amazon. Also, I cannot post the copies of the documents online as that may violate copyright regulations. If you think there is something better that I can do to (legally) provide this information to all of my aspiring Child Life Specialists, please, e-mail me and let me know! dianemo.ccls@gmail.com