Child Life Master’s Program: Letting Kids Be Kids


“In the middle of everything else that’s going on, it’s good to just be able to go to the playroom and play.”

No matter where you’re from, what culture you’re a part of, or what your environment is like, kids need to be kids. Experiencing childhood in its fullest is essential for mental and emotional growth. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be cut short for a child with a severe illness or one who experiences a life-altering trauma. “Growing up” more quickly than they have to becomes not just a coping mechanism for these children, but a means of survival.

This is where Child Life specialists become imperative to childhood development. Dr. Paul Thayer, Wheelock College Associate Professor and Chair of Child Life and Family Studies, says that Child Life specialists prepare children for two things. “The first is to cope with stressful hospital experiences, or healthcare experiences. And the second is sometimes to just be a kid. In the middle of everything else that’s going on, it’s good to just be able to go to the playroom and play.”

The opportunity to connect with a Child Life specialist helps children regain the essential playful part of their childhood. They can just be a kid for a period time, play, and laugh. The work of a Child Life specialist is not limited to just hospitals, either; a variety of healthcare and child care settings tout the need for trained and able specialists to connect with children and families at all levels.

Wheelock College’s graduate program in Child Life and Family Studies prepares you to work with children and families in this variety of settings. Thayer said Wheelock’s Child Life master’s degree program gives students not only the core skills they’ll need for this in-demand profession, but also the flexibility to focus on a particular subject area, such as visual art or music, that interests them and develop a unique skill set that sets them apart from graduates of other programs.

Learn more about the Child Life Master’s degree program in the video below or by visiting the Child Life website.