Friendly, comforting, intelligent. These are just a few words that describe Somerville YMCA’s Director of Child Care Melissa Reis. All her life, she knew she wanted to work with children, whether it be through education or care services, just as long as she played a role in youth development. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in childhood and elementary education, and going through a few jobs in non-education roles, Melissa found her dream job at the Y. Read more to find out what makes her a child care pro and what it’s like working at the Y.
Walk us through a typical day in Child Care at Somerville YMCA.
Each day is a busy one! With our infants and toddlers, our focus is on language development, communication, and learning to be independent. They learn through songs, picture books, and engaging teacher-child interactions. In our preschool classrooms, the children learn through play-based studies. Routines throughout the day include both large and small groups, opportunities for gross-motor development, choice time in learning centers and read alouds. Our teachers work with each child to determine where they are developmentally and then create a plan on how we will get them to where they need to be for kindergarten. The most important piece with all of our age groups is that they are engaging and learning through meaningful play every day.
What do you find most rewarding about a Child Care director?
I love the structure of our Child Care program. Being truly within the hallways of the Y, we're a smaller center, with an average total enrollment of 40 to 50 children. This allows the children time to interact with all age groups. They all know each other, the teachers, and other program staff throughout the building which helps foster their social skills. We have a strong community aspect of the Y resonating throughout our Child Care program.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I love being with the children. The classrooms are their world to explore and grow in. We encourage our teachers to add their own creativity when planning their lessons. I see them put a lot of love and care into the classrooms, which results in a positive environment where the children enjoy coming to school every day and are learning.
What kind of training does one need to work in Child Care at the Y?
Our lead teachers require some sort of formal early childhood education such as CDA, associate, bachelor's or master's degree. At the assistant level, they come to us with a variety of levels of education and experience, but ultimately a love to help children grow and develop. No matter what they're coming in with, we're providing our teachers with ongoing training and education.
What are some of the perks of your job?
I love the way we are integrated with the rest of the Y. We work so closely with other departments in the building and are not tucked away. We also have other child care centers within our Association that we get to collaborate with to problem solve, share ideas, and plan for professional development. Also, as a mom of two boys, I love that I get to have them right here with me while I work!