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Showing posts from April, 2020

Working from home -- with youth of our own underfoot

By Samantha Grant

Youth work, like all other fields, has been flipped on its head this year. Many youth workers are facing a reality in which their own children constantly surround them. Morphing from youth worker into classroom teacher, screen time warden and maker of chore charts.

I am right there with many of you - working from home and trying to manage home schooling for three children of my own. Social media, blogs and online articles tell me about fun and creative tasks I can use to stimulate them, but they overwhelmed me. I may or may not have sobbed in my closet with a bag of chocolate chips until I realized that I do not have to do it all myself.

I am not one to create Pinterest-worthy projects, but I can help you to build and evaluate strong programs. If you, like me, lack craftiness, I encourage you to pause, then get back to planning new, exciting youth programs. Intentional programs need intentional planning.

Here are four ideas that can help you jump-start some great plan…

Five tips to keep kids talking during stressful times

By Trisha Sheehan

Stress is a part of everyone's life. It can be as overwhelming for young people as it can be for adults. We as parents and caring adults may not be able to prevent youth from feeling stress, frustration, sadness or anger, but we can help them cope by keeping them talking during stressful times. By listening to young people, we can better understand their concerns and be available to support them.

Here are five tips for how to talk with youth.
Be available The American Psychological Association encourages us to recognize when a child is wanting to or willing to talk. Find out what their interests or passions are and show interest in them. Be willing to start conversations. Don’t always start conversations with a question, instead share what you’ve been thinking about or what you’ve learned.
Stop and listenKids Health advises to not just listen but to actively listen. Stop what you are doing and focus on what they are saying. Let them express their opinion or point …

Beat math anxiety: Bring out the M in STEM

By Michael Compton

Have you ever thought of mathematics as poetry? Albert Einstein once said, “Pure mathematics is, in its own way, the poetry of logical ideas.” Unfortunately, most young people have not been introduced to math in this way. For most of them, their math experiences have been the repetitive practice of calculation exercises, using and applying formulas and taking tests. But relying solely on these methods can lead youth to see math as confusing, unimportant, uninteresting or just plain boring.

For educators who lead experiences in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in non-formal and after-school settings, I ask this question: Is it important to help youth overcome the negative attitudes they have about math? Should we?

The answer of course is "Yes, we should!" But why? A common response could be “Because math is important”. But I believe the answer is much deeper.

Leading positive STEM learning experiences can help young people overcome math anxi…

How are you using technology to work with youth from a distance?

By Kari Robideau

In what felt like an instant, our traditional ways of meeting youth needs halted. The essence of our work is building relationships. Now that we are all physically distant from young people we serve, how can we continue to do it?

Let’s answer this question with intentional programming and purposeful opportunities. While developing youth programs in distance learning formats is not our usual strategy, following best practices and achieving youth outcomes is what we will continue to do.

Technology can help us stay connected, but let's be smart about how we use it.
Many things have changed in the last few weeks, but one thing has not. We are youth development professionals grounded in positive youth development practices. We provide high-quality learning environments with experiential learning opportunities in out-of-school time.Ask young people and families what they need during this time. Survey your youth leaders by email or text.Be mindful of the hours kids are spe…

Keep youth at the center of online learning design

By Jeremy Freeman

Educators across the country are creating and adapting their delivery patterns to offer positive learning experiences for young people -- even during these tough times. But whether we meet in person or online, we must ensure our design and delivery is rooted in meeting youth needs.

To do this, we must, together with our learners, co-create learner-centered environments. This takes time and thought. We should resist the urge to quickly implement a variety of technology tools to meet the temporary needs of a lockdown.

According to Jennifer Lock in her article, Designing learning to engage students in the global classroom, “When selecting tools to support the learning outcomes, consideration should be given to how these items will open the learning space to exchange ideas and support the co-creation of knowledge.” Give careful attention to matching the tools you use with your learning objectives and youth needs in your context.

Here are a few suggestions for keeping yout…

A call for solidarity in the time of COVID-19 racism

By Kathryn Sharpe

Youth are experiencing tremendous anxiety, fear, and loss as a result of COVID-19 and all the resulting changes. As they try to make sense of the new shape of their lives, some of them are discovering the satisfaction of giving back—through helping neighbors in need, sewing face masks or creating care packages for health care workers.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has also brought an ugly spike in anti-Asian bias incidents and hate crimes, as social media and even political leaders have associated the virus with China and Asia in general.

Associating immigrants with disease is a nasty, recurring myth in US culture. Because of it, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth, their families, program volunteers and our colleagues may be afraid to go to the grocery store not only because of illness, but because of the threat of verbal and even physical attacks.


As youth workers, we cultivate deep relationships with young people and their families. We seek to help yout…

How to foster social and emotional learning while we're social distancing

By Kate Walker

In this era of staying at home, distance learning and a new type of latchkey kids whose parents are essential workers, we can center young people’s social-emotional well-being. Schools are closed, routines disrupted and special events canceled. Issues of equity and access are worsened as families struggle with internet and technology divides, food and housing insecurities and the pressures of isolation.

Our Ways of Being model is a tool for teaching about social and emotional learning (SEL). It’s the foundation for the freely available Social and Emotional Learning in Practice: A Toolkit of Practical Strategies and Resources, which has activities you can adapt for no-tech or virtual youth programming. I've just created a set of videos that walk you through each section of the toolkit.

Ways of Relating Now more than ever we need to connect with and have empathy for others. Meeting virtually requires specific social, communication and active listening skills. Adults ca…

Empathy has never been more important

By Karyn Santl

For two months, I have been putting together a webinar for 4-H volunteers about showing empathy and giving feedback. As I put the finishing touches on it, I'm working from home - ordered to do so, like most Americans living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am surrounded by family members who are dealing with cancellations, uncertainty and isolation. I am also supporting my colleagues as they adjust to their new work and home situations. The topic of my webinar has become more important than ever.

Dr. Brene` Brown has a great video that explains and shows the difference between empathy and sympathy. In Brown’s work, she references the nursing scholar Theresa Wiseman’s four attributes of empathy:
To be able to see the world as others see it. This requires putting your own "stuff" aside to see the situation through someone else’s eyes.To be nonjudgmental. Judgement of another person's situation discounts the experience and is an attempt to protect ourselve…