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Showing posts from February, 2017

For LGBT youth, safe spaces can be hard to find

By Joseph Rand

About two years ago, students at Becker High School in rural Minnesota created a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). These students wanted a space where they could be themselves, connect and feel safe in a town where they often feel they don't fit in and can't express their true identities. For adolescents, access to safe spaces is a crucial part of development and exploring self-identity. For youth programs, this is a fundamental concern.

While physical safety is the foundation of the YPQA pyramid from the Center for Youth Program Quality, emotional safety is also of crucial importance. Only when youth feel emotionally and physically safe are they able to present themselves in an authentic way and engage in positive development. Without that authenticity, true development cannot take place. Researchers have discussed the need for safe spaces for fostering peer-to-peer relationships and for developing coping strategies and community among LGBT students.

The Gay, Lesbian…

Practical ways to connect children to nature

By Cathy Jordan

More and more parents, health care providers, and educators, in both formal and informal settings, are recognizing the value of connecting children to nature. It's good for their physical and mental health and academic success.  It's also good for the planet - children with meaningful, frequent nature-based experiences develop attachments to nature that lead to a desire to take care of the environment.

The question is: How can we best provide these nature-based experiences? The answer depends on the age of the child and the benefits you desire.

There has been more practical guidance for connecting young children to the natural world than older children. Early Childhood Activities for a Greener Earth and Connecting Animals and Children in Early Childhood (Selly) and Wilson’s Nature and Young Children are just a few examples of engaging popular books offering strategies for parents and educators of young children.  Another, Vitamin N, was written by Richard Louv, …

Should we measure social and emotional learning skills?

By Samantha Grant

My oldest child is in a classroom that gives students points for good deeds done throughout the day. My guess is that the teacher is trying to encourage social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. Every day I check in to see how my child did, and every day I think about how this would have gone for me. I was the kid in class who could never stop talking, so my daily points for "works quietly" and "on task" would have been abysmal. I wanted to talk- and was willing to talk about learning or my new shoes or what we were going to do at recess- the topic didn't matter. It did matter that learning for me was a social activity.

Social and Emotional Learning in Practice: A Toolkit of Practical Strategies and Resources

By Kate Walker

For several years now, our center has been digging into social and emotional learning (SEL). We've studied it, hosted a series of public symposia about it, and developed trainings to support it. Now I am delighted to announce a free online resource to help practitioners bolster SEL into their programs.

This toolkit is a flexible set of practical tools, templates and activities that can be used with staff and youth to increase intentional practices that support social and emotional learning.

It includes resources to:
Equip staff: Enhance staff knowledge of SEL, how their program supports SEL, and their own emotional intelligence and cultural values;Create the learning environment: Establish expectations, give feedback and integrate reflection;Design impactful learning experiences: Infuse SEL into program activities that allow youth to explore their individual and community identity, practice sharing gratitude and communicate one’s feelings, learn about empathy and set …