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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

GROW your coaching skills

By Nancy Hegland

During this past year, I have watched my three kids being coached by adults in a variety of settings. Whether it was sports, music or showing livestock, these coaches invested their knowledge in my children’s growth and development. This summer, I’m paying more attention to my children’s coaching than most mothers do because I’ve recently taken a course called Coaching for Excellence.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Talking with youth about terrorism

By Sara Langworthy

Newtown. San Bernardino. Charleston. And now Orlando.

In the wake of intense tragedies, these places have stopped being just cities. Their names have become grief-laden synonyms for terror and loss.

So, how should we talk to youth about terrorism and mass shootings?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What's a refugee? Who are the Karen?

By Jennifer Skuza

"Imagine being forced to flee your country in order to escape to safety. If you were lucky you had time to pack a bag. If not, you simply dropped everything and ran. Life as a refugee can be difficult to imagine. But, for nearly 20 million people around the world, it is a terrifying reality." (United Nations Refugee Agency).

World Refugee Day just happened on June 20, 2016.

I have have had opportunities to work with refugee communities throughout my career. Over the past few years I have been working with Karen communities in Minnesota. Many people aren't familiar with the Karen or how people come to be refugees. Here is some background.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Early sports specialization is incompatible with high-quality youth programming

By Margo Bowerman

I had the good fortune to grow up in an environment with a wide variety of things to do and plenty of free time. I loved competitive team sports, and as a student I played competitively through college and beyond. Today, though, many young people's time is monopolized by sports and for some, even the very young, it's only a single sport - even though the research says that's not good for them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Science is hard work and that makes it fun

By Rebecca Meyer 

Thinking of science as fun may bring youth to an activity, but they'll like it even more when they get to know more about the scientific process, challenges, and even the failures.

Effective science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education demands balancing fun, interest-building activities and attention to the authentic aptitudes and dispositions that prepare youth for professional careers. All too often we emphasize the fun-factor and minimize the notion that "science is hard." My colleague, Margo Bowerman, blogged about this recently: "I’m no good at science!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Let's talk about race -- It's important

By Jessica Pierson Russo

We need to talk to young people about race more - not less. A recent study suggests that minority and white children avoid talking about race. They learn this "color blind" approach from adults, and avoiding the issue only widens the divide.

Studies show that talking to young people about race is important to their development. Understanding one's own racial and ethnic identity is important to developing a positive social identity.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The key to quality youth development that keeps a kid coming back

By Karen Beranek

Recently families have been questioning the value of youth activities, as seen on the parent blogs and social media sites starting with "Why I don't pay for" and ending with: gymnastics, volleyball, band, basketball. Blogger Shad Martin has a good example with "Why I Don't Pay for Dance Anymore!"

Martin lists many good reasons why parents should involve their children in these learning experiences. But in my opinion, he has missed an important one - program quality.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Getting beyond graduation

By Amber Shanahan

Graduation is a joyous and proud occasion filled with anticipation of what's to come. But emotionally, it's a mixed bag -- anxiety, apprehension, grief, fear or sadness may live alongside relief, joy and delight.

One graduate's next steps and outlook can look quite different from another's and so can their attitudes about their future. Some may be thrilled to say goodbye to the comforts of home to explore parts unknown, but others may feel apprehensive about their new found freedom, and a few may have no plan in place at all -- causing feelings of unease, pressure and confusion.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

5 tips for continuous youth program improvement

By Betsy Olson

CC BY-SA 2.0, Katy Warner
Continuous improvement seems to be the new normal. Each year, funders, stakeholders and youth participants expect our programs to grow and strengthen, not to mention our own high expectations as youth workers. One tool in our tool box to help our programs continue to build and improve is interactive evaluation or feedback mechanisms.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

3 ways to help your volunteers and program staff facilitate inquiry

By Anne Stevenson

Imagine an after-school program in which second graders learn about chemical change by making pancakes. Or a club in which kids in fourth through sixth grades build a Rube Goldberg machine for a county competition. Or a group of teens re-engineering an underwater robot.

How do you, as the adult guiding the learning experience, facilitate inquiry to best engage them and challenge deeper thinking?
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