I love children’s books. There’s something about the possibility of imagination as you hold a hardback children’s book for the first time. Of course, the illustrations are just as important as the story and I love to spend time examining each page of a “Goodnight Moon” or a “Where the Wild Things Are.” These books bring back great memories of childhood and I currently have a print hanging in my office of The Wild Rumpus in the aforementioned Where the Wild Things Are. It reminds me that while my job can be wild, it can also be an adventure.
As for my job, I work at a Y. I am in charge of branch operations. It has been some time since I have worked directly with children and none of the people who work for me have seen me in this capacity. I am, to them, an administrator. Lately I have been sitting in on interviews for childcare positions we have open. I helped design the questions we ask and I thought it was important to gauge how these applicants relate to children. A couple sample questions…
Often they will have just told us that they relate well to children and yes, they can be silly. When they get to the children’s book question is when I start being persisitent. Many times the favorite book mentioned is “Green Eggs and Ham” or “Where the Wild Things Are.” I then will ask them to tell me their favorite part. I’ll ask them to recite part of Green Eggs and Ham to me. I’ll even help them out by saying things like, “I would not eat them on a boat, I would not eat them with a goat.” or “I would not eat them here nor there, I would not eat them anywhere!” Even then, the applicant does not want to look silly and will laugh uneasily and look at the other interviewers in the room (we always do panel interviews) to see if I’m serious. Finally, the good ones will go “What the heck” and jump in and recite the book.
My staff, through these interviews, are beginning to see a different side of me. I hope that I’m showing how important it is that we find the right people to work with these kids. I tell the applicants they have the most important job in the world – they are developing today’s youth. And I want staff who really want to take on that responsibility. My feeling is we can teach someone how to discipline a naughty child or how to develop 6 to 8 year old curriculum, but you can’t teach the ability to be silly and the ability to connect with kids on their level.
So, when I ask an applicant to sing me their favorite nursery rhyme or camp song or childhood rhyme, it’s the most serious interview question they’ll ever get.
Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!
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