Immersing into The Child Life Field Through an International Practicum with Child Life United

As the child life profession expands into new settings, roles, and communities, it is also hitting a few roadblocks. Currently there is a surplus of excited students eager to start their career as a Certified Child Life Specialist, but they are finding it extremely challenging to obtain an internship spot because there just aren’t enough available. Some child life sites are also requiring a child life practicum to be completed before they will consider a candidate for their internship program. It’s another bump in the road for students.

So some students are going the route of fulfilling a practicum to gain knowledge and experience that will hopefully help advance them.

I’m thrilled to introduce a unique type of child life practicum from Child life United.

child Life United

Guest Blogger, Courtney Moreland, Founder and Director of Child Life United

Child Life United has partnered with organizations all over the world to offer aspiring child life specialists’ international practicums. All Child Life United practicums will follow the Recommended Standards as set forth by the Association of Child Life Professionals.

The child life practicum is designed as an introductory experience for individuals interested in pursuing a career in child life. Through experiential learning and observation of Certified Child Life Specialists, child life practicum students begin to increase their knowledge of basic child life skills related to play, developmental assessment, and integration of child life theory into interventions with infants, children, youth and families. Child life practicum students will increase their comfort level by interacting with infants, children, youth, and families in stressful situations, health care settings and/or in programs designed for special needs populations.  Through these experiences, child life practicum students will enhance their knowledge of the child life profession and investigate the process of applying child life and developmental theory to practice.

Click here to apply for a future abroad practicum.

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Child Life United just completed a practicum in the Philippines. It provided five child life students an educational experience in three different cities. Here is what they have to say about it,

“I have learned and gained so much this international practicum. I have been exposed to the reality in which people live through my interactions with children and parents. I have realized that the practice of child life is more than guidelines from textbooks or theories. It involves being present and supportive, not only for the children, but for the parents who are essentially going through the worst times of their lives.” Jasmine M.

“Playing with children who spoke limited to no English was challenging at first, but gradually I learned how to communicate and understand what they wanted just by listening and observing their body language. I am still in awe of how many children I saw during my travel (hospital patients, well sheltered, street children) and getting a small peep hole look into what their lifestyle looks like from the outside in.” Michele F.

Child Life United also offers remote internship supervision, program development, consulting, and international volunteering.

Click here to learn more about Child Life United and be sure to follow on Facebook, and Instagram.

Related Articles

Tips on Landing a Child Life Practicum

The Learning Curve in a Child Life Practicum

Navigating the Road to Become a Certified Child Life Specialist: Tips & Tricks From a Child Life Student 

The Learning Curve in a Child Life Practicum

The Learning Curve in a Child Life Practicum

As the child life field continues to grow many students are completing a practicum before they start their internship. It is a unique learning experience for the student, but also for the preceptor. Many specialists will strengthen their skills in teaching, communicating and self-reflecting during this supervisory role.

I am happy to share one specialists experience as a first time preceptor in a child life practicum. Sarah is a Certified Child Life Specialist and blogger at A Little Playfullness, a site dedicated to therapeutic activities for child life specialists in their work.


A few of you may be wondering what a child life practicum student is. While it’s not necessary for certification, it has become the common practice that students who are pursuing a child life career first perform a 100 to 200 hour practicum experience prior to applying for internship positions. The goal of the practicum is to gain an introduction to child life through observation, written assignments, and interactions with patients, families, and the healthcare team. Students shadow child life specialists throughout their day, observing health care preparation, procedure support, medical rounding, and bereavement services, to name a few. Their assignments include weekly journal write ups, article reviews, in-services, developmental observations, and implementation of planned therapeutic activities. Depending on the facility, there may be additional assignments as well.

My experience as a practicum preceptor was incredibly insightful. Not only did it take me down memory lane to when I was a practicum student, it was also very interesting to see the other side of the fence. I found that it was important to encourage my student to really process the different interactions she saw and always look for ways to connect theory to practice. In our field, it’s important for us to be able to talk about the theory behind the tools and techniques we choose to use. When students interview for internships, they are expected to be able to talk about the theories and use examples. By practicing it during their practicum, that portion of the interview is easier.

Another thing I practiced was the art of not beating around the bush. I’m not going to lie. I love to talk. This is good, because being a practicum preceptor means you do a lot of talking. At the same time, there is such a thing as talking too much and going off on wild tangents. I think I’ve gotten pretty good about not going off on tangents and being concise when I explain things. Though sometimes my wild tangents have a point, I promise!

Finally, I learned the importance of letting go. Practicum students come to learn and I think the best way to learn is to practice. While practicum students don’t do procedure supports and preparations like interns, they definitely practice things like creating and implementing therapeutic activities. It was my job to coach my student in regards to things like therapeutic activities and encourage her to try things on her own when she was ready. My practicum student was awesome and always game to try new things. It was a wonderful honor to get to see her grow this summer. I can’t wait to see how she does in the future and I’m looking forward to meeting my next student!

To learn more about Sarah and her child life experience, follow her blog at

Diane’s “Adventures in Child Life”

The Celebration of Child Life Month continues….

Here is a guest blog post from Diane a child life specialist and blogger at Adventures In Child Life


Hello! My adventure in child life began my junior year in college when my child development professor briefly mentioned the career in one of his lectures. I took note of it and googled it as soon as I got home. As I was reading the Child Life Council’s webpage I remember thinking, this is it! This is what I want to be when I grow up. I graduated with my bachelors degree for Child Development and Spanish in the Spring of 2012.

After moving back home, I began volunteering at a local children’s hospital with the child life department while also taking “Intro to child life” online taught by a child life specialist. In January 2013 I began my practicum where I really got a taste for the field and loved it more and more every day.

In September 2013, I started my internship where I learned all of the ins and outs about Child Life. I will always have a soft spot for the hospital. I completed my internship and I grew so much professionally and emotionally during my time there.

Three weeks before completing my internship, my supervisor and I had finished revising my new and improved Child Life Resume. On Saturday night (because, as you all may know, during a child life internship you are so exhausted that weekends become sleep in and stay in bed all day). I decided to apply to a child life job just for fun and to see how the application process went. The following week I got a call back from that hospital for an interview! Needless to say, the last two weeks of my internship were the two busiest weeks of my life. I was not only putting the finishing touches on assignments I had to turn in, two case studies to write, and managing my own unit, I was also preparing for a Child Life job interview!

The Monday after my internship had finished, I was offered a child life job! I am now a child life specialist working in a pediatric emergency room. I couldn’t be any happier!

I am now currently studying for the certification exam which I am taking at the end of March (I hope to get some good vibes being that I’m taking my exam during Child Life month!). I am also registered to go to conference this year which I am ecstatic about!

Go, Child Life, Go!

To learn more about Diane, you can follow her blog at Adventures in Child Life

If you have a story that you would like to share about working with a child life specialist, finding the field or how your program is celebrating, please click here