While returning to school may be exciting to some children, for others the back-to-school season is a time of anxiety and heightened stress. Whether you are a parent or an adult who works closely with youth, there are steps to take that can help young people manage stress and build a foundation for school success.
In my role with 4-H, I serve as a member of University of Florida faculty specializing in youth development and volunteer systems in the Wakulla County Extension office. My work involves collaborating with and supporting local youth, their families, adult volunteers, and community partners. This summer, I completed Mental Health First Aid Training, a program offered by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. This training is available to any interested adult or teen. Visit this site for more information: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/. The training was an excellent refresher that helped bring me up to date on ways to support youth and families in our community. Mental health concerns often differ by age. What may be worrisome to your elementary school aged child has will likely differ from what will trouble your high school aged teen.
Getting the Conversation Started
Over the course of twenty-eight years and counting as an educator, I have had the opportunity to work with youth and young adults ranging from pre-school to college. The one concern I can confidently say that
The new school year is about to start!
youth of any age are likely to share is a fear of the unknown. While the unknowns change from year to year and differ between children, one way to handle potential worries is to talk about them. Consider these conversation starters to help your child discuss the new school year:
- What do you most look forward to experiencing/doing this school year?
- If you could change one thing about the last school year, what would it be? Why?
- What are you most hoping to learn/do this school year?
While some children will take these questions and run with them, other children may be less eager to communicate or just less enthusiastic about the new year. Parents may want to adjust their questions to address stressors that accompany back to school time and how to alleviate those concerns.
Tips for the Early Years of Elementary School
For younger children, driving by the school building may help alleviate nerves. You may not get to visit a classroom inside the school until a scheduled Open House event, but seeing the place and discussing what the school day involves can help to dispel some worry. Tips for easing the back-to-school jitters for elementary school:
- Establish the back-to-school bedtime routine. Helping to get sleep routines back on the school year schedule is a good first step to success.
- Practice the morning routine. Consider timing it. Make it a game. What steps are needed to get everyone out the door on time? Practicing this routine for a few days will help everyone make better school day decisions such as whether to lay out clothes and school supplies the night before, make lunch or snacks the night before, and can help everyone feel less stressed on school days.
- Plan for lunch and practice lunch time skills. If you are sending a packed lunch or snacks, can your child open the packages without help? Does your child like what you are sending? Involving children in planning lunch and snacks can help ensure food is eaten and not wasted.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers helpful back to school tips for kindergarten through school on the HealthyChildren.Org page located at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/school/Pages/back-to-school-tips.aspx.
Tips to Manage Middle School
In middle school, school expectations for youth increase with each grade level. The Nemours Foundation offers advice specific to the middle school years:
- Visit the school website with your youth. Review school policies together.
- Discuss goals for the school year together. The middle school years offer opportunities to develop organizational skills and start to make choices about how to allocate their time.
- Work together to develop a realistic nutrition plan. Your middle school child may prioritize sleep over a healthy breakfast. Discussing your expectations about how and what your child eats to be well-prepared for the school will help ensure they can follow a plan that works for both of you.
For more tips about supporting your middle school student for success, visit the Nemours Kids Health web page at https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/school-help-middle.html.
Tips to Finish Strong in High School
The high school years come with a different set of stressors and the concerns your child has entering ninth grade will likely be different than the concerns they have entering senior year. For youth entering the ninth grade, high school may seem intimidating. Youth have experienced the heights of eighth grade, when they are the oldest in middle school. Then, ninth grade rolls around and students are back on the lowest rungs of the school pecking order once again. Add the pressure of an environment where grades and extracurricular activities may impact a child’s future beyond the high school years and the perfect formula for stress is created. How can parents support a newly minted high school student?
- Discuss course choices with the school course catalog as a guide. The school guidance counselor can help you locate the guide if it is not available on the school website.
- Determine what goals your child want to set. Do they want to take a language, join a school club, try out for a sport?
- Is your child leaning toward vocational studies? What requirements do they need to fulfill to enter a vocational program?
Setting academic and post-high school goals as early as eighth or ninth grade can help alleviate some stress in the final years of high school. Youth in tenth and eleventh grades will either work to maintain a positive trajectory or they will need to do self-examination to determine how to get back on a track that will get them where they want to go. Youth at this age may be considering after-school jobs or may take advantage of dual enrollment course options.
Youth entering twelfth grade, along with their families, are about to embark on an emotional roller coaster ride. High school seniors and their parents will experience a number of “last time this will happen” moments, beginning with the first day of school. The final year of high school can be bittersweet. This last year will also carry the weight of the future with it. Some youth may find themselves overwhelmed by the unknowns and the many decisions that may be facing them as they prepare for a life beyond high school. To ease some of this stress, have family discussions about the school year before classes begin. Plan on check ins throughout the year. The emotions a student may feel in August may differ significantly from what they are feeling in February when peers begin to receive college acceptances. Possible questions to ask early in senior year:
- What deadlines should we have on our calendar?
- When are payments due for college applications, senior trips, cap and gown, invitations?
- What parts of senior year do you want family members to experience and what part of senior year will be just for you and your friends? This is the time to start planning for sports or band senior nights, gatherings for Homecoming or Prom, and graduation parties.
Handling Challenges and Opportunities Together
Follow these tips to start school strong this year!
Whether you are the nervous parent of a kindergartener or the proud parent of a high school senior, the new school year will bring challenges to manage as well as opportunities to make new family memories. Planning ahead and keeping the lines of communication flowing between family members will help the school year flow more smoothly for parents and students alike. If you are looking for new youth or volunteer activities to add to your family’s routine this school year, consider contacting your local Extension office for youth activities and volunteer opportunities.
Additional Back-to-School Stress Management Resources
The American Institute of Stress. (2019). 15 Ways to Beat Back-to-School Stress. Retrieved July 25, 2023 from https://www.stress.org/15-ways-to-beat-back-to-school-stress.
Borenstein, J. (2019). Back-to-School Stress Management. Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.
Retrieved July 25, 2023 from https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/back-school-stress-management#:~:text=Each%20weekend%2C%20spend%20some%20time,likely%20to%20stick%20to%20them.
JED Foundation. (2023). 8 Ways to Lower Stress in High School. Retrieved July 25, 2023 from https://jedfoundation.org/resource/8-ways-to-lower-stress-in-high-school/.
Many 4-H clubs take a break during the summer months. Club leaders and youth may travel, have different summer schedules, or choose to participate in camps during the summer months. 4-H volunteers can help play a role in helping youth and families transition to summer activities. Furthermore, the transition from the club year to summer activities is an opportunity for volunteers to help lay a foundation for youth retention in the next 4-H year.
Research shows that summer activities can play an important role in youth development:
Out-of-school and summer programs can play a variety of important roles in supporting healthy development during childhood. First, out-of-school and summer programs provide a setting for children to experience supportive social relationships with both adults and peers, relationships that foster emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development. Second, such programs offer an opportunity for both structured and unstructured play, as well as a child’s choice in activities. This may be particularly important as schools increasingly focus on structured academic learning, even in the early grades (Bassok et al., 2016), and as other societal changes, such as increased parental employment and greater digital engagement decrease opportunities for unstructured play (Yogman et al., 2018).
(Hutton R. & Sepúlveda MJ, 2019)
Club Year Transitions
Club leaders may choose to close out the club year when the school year ends. This ending may involve a celebration, a recognition of achievement, or it may take the form of electronic communication with parents. It is important to close the club experience with an invitation for future 4-H engagement. This engagement may be day or residential camp, the next club year, a 4-H Open House event. Other club leaders may change the meeting schedule or offer different activities during the summer months. Youth may transition to an older age group with the new club year or may choose switch clubs as interests change. The summer months offer opportunities to help youth choose the next step in their 4-H experience. It is helpful to follow up with a club year recap email that includes summer resources and suggestions. Adding in the date of the fall 4-H Open House event and preview information about the next club year can help increase member retention from year to year.
Opportunities for Senior 4-H Youth
4-H youth receive awards recognizing achievements during 4-H University event.
If your county offers summer day camps, your 4-H agent may be able to engage high school age senior 4-H youth as volunteers. The summer volunteer camp counselor experience can play an important role for rising ninth through twelfth graders who are looking to develop valuable workforce skills and experience. An added plus for youth is that 4-H volunteer hours can count toward fulfilling the Bright Futures service hours requirement.
4-H Summer Camps
Your local Extension office likely offers a variety of themed 4-H day camps that focus on life skills. The state 4-H program also offers residential camps. Senior 4-H youth can also attend overnight events such as 4-H Legislature, 4-H University, and 4-H Grilling Camp. Intermediate youth have the option of participating in the iLead weekend. The county 4-H agent can help volunteers become well-versed in the many summer options offered by 4-H that are available for youth locally and around the state.
For more information, contact your local Extension office and bookmark the state 4-H page.
At 4-H summer day camp, youth learn about farms and design their own dream farm.
Resources for Additional Reading
Ellison, S., & Harder, A. (2018). Factors Contributing to the Retention of Senior 4-H Members: From the Youth Perspective. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 6(3), 10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.54718/LCJZ7328
Hutton R. & Sepúlveda, MJ, editors. (2019). Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2019 Sep 26. 3, The Effects of Summertime Experiences on Children’s Development. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child and Adolescent Education, Health, and Safety. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK552668/
Lewis, K. M., Hensley, S., Bird, M., Rea-Keywood, J., Miller, J., Kok, C., & Shelstad, N. (2022). Why Youth Leave 4-H After the First Year: A Multistate Study. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 10(3), 5. DOI: https://doi.org/10.55533/2325-5226.1429
Newby, L. & Sallee, J. (2016). 4-H Membership Recruitment/Retention Problems: A Meta-Analysis of Possible Causes and Solutions. Journal of Youth Development. 6. 37-46. 10.5195/JYD.2011.163.
What does it mean to be a coach? When you hear the word coach, do you picture someone with a whistle on a sports field? Most of us are probably familiar with sports coaching. However, the concept of coaching has grown to include life and professional coaching as well! This expansion of coaching has established that it is a skill that has applications across a broad array of life situations.
If you google professional coaching, you will find a plethora of books available on the topic. Writer Julie Starr has identified several fundamental coaching skills: building rapport, listening, asking good questions, and giving constructive feedback (Starr, 2021). Those skills sound like the characteristics agents hope to find in a 4-H volunteer!
How Is Coaching Different From Mentoring?
How does coaching differ from mentoring? Zust (2017) contrasted coaching versus mentoring in the business setting, explaining that coaching is a partnership between the coach and the person receiving coaching. The coach helps an individual or team reach or grow toward their potential. Just as a sports coach has a season, a coach in the business setting helps the person or team to reach a goal. How does coaching translate to the 4-H setting? In 4-H, youth may want to complete a project or compete in an event. As a volunteer, you can help coach them through a successful experience! In contrast, Zust (2017) characterizes mentoring as a longer term, developmental process that may not be focused on one particular event or project. In an earlier blog post, I addressed types of mentoring and mentoring practices.
As a volunteer, you may recognize that the 4-H agent you work with has been coaching you! As a 4-H club volunteer, you also have the opportunity to coach the youth enrolled in the 4-H program. In this blog post, you will learn about coaching techniques and how to be a more effective coach to the youth in your clubs. What does it mean to be effective as a coach? In the context of youth development, coaching effectiveness can be defined as the integrated application of “professional, interpersonal, and intrapersonal knowledge to improve youth competence, confidence, connection and character” (Vella et al, 2011).
4-H coaches help youth achieve their goals.
Getting in the Zone (of Proximal Development)
To better understand how to effectively implement coaching with youth, we will consider the following learning concepts: the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and “scaffolding” (Vinson and Parker, 2019). Vygotsky (1978) defined ZPD as the “distance between actual developmental level as determined by independent problem-solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.” When I read Vygotsky’s definition of ZPD, I immediately think, “That’s 4-H!” Youth are able to develop and improve skills, ultimately achieving more with the support of caring adults. In 4-H, we also encourage youth to apply what they have learned through teaching others. Several coaching behaviors suggested by Vygotsky include “questioning, demonstrating and introducing the beginnings of task solution” (Vinson and Parker, 2019). These behaviors are ways to use scaffolding as a technique in youth development.
How to Incorporate Scaffolding into Your Coaching Toolkit
Scaffolding is a learning process that can be used as a technique in effective coaching. This technique can help youth build on existing knowledge they have previously acquired. The process works similarly for skill-building and “Scaffolding practices provide the opportunity for children to reach higher-level skills by building on and extending their existing skills” (Mincemoyer, 2016). Three examples of scaffolding strategies that can be used to coach 4-H youth include:
- Modeling and demonstrating: Adult volunteers can demonstrate the skill or ask a youth to demonstrate.
- Incorporating reflection into the club meeting: Build in time for youth to explain to you and their peers what they learned during a club activity.
- Using documentation: Illustrated talks and project books are forms of documentation. Youth may document their learning with photographs, written descriptions, and even video. This documentation becomes a foundation to build on moving forward as more skills are developed.
(Adapted from Mincemoyer, 2016).
In closing, you may already be engaging in effective coaching strategies as a 4-H volunteer without knowing that was what you were doing! If coaching is a new concept for you, this blog post should serve as a starting point for further development in your volunteer experience. Your 4-H agent can be an excellent knowledge resource as well as serving in a coaching role for you.
For more information about positive youth development (PYD) strategies or to learn more about becoming a 4-H volunteer, reach out to your local Extension office.
Youth engage in a mock Cooking Challenge with coach support.
Resources for Further Reading
Mincemoyer, C. (2016). “Scaffolding Approaches and Practices.” Penn State Extension. Pennsylvania State University. http://bkc-od-media.vmhost.psu.edu/documents/HO_MIL_GI_Scaffolding.pdf
Starr, J. (2021). The Coaching Manual. 5th edition. Pearson Business.
Vella, Stewart & Oades, Lindsay & Crowe, Trevor. (2011). The Role of the Coach in Facilitating Positive Youth Development: Moving from Theory to Practice. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. 23. 33-48. 10.1080/10413200.2010.511423.
Vinson, D. and Parker, A. (2019) Vygotsky and Sports Coaching: Non-linear practice in youth and adult settings. Curriculum Studies in Health and Physical Education, 10 (1). pp. 91-106. doi:10.1080/25742981.2018.1555003 ORCID: 0000-0001-6842-3067
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
Zust, C. (2017). “Know the Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring.” Kent State University. https://www.kent.edu/yourtrainingpartner/know-difference-between-coaching-and-mentoring
4-H functions most effectively as a youth-adult partnership that fosters positive youth development. Youth-adult partnerships can take several forms. One form is a mentoring relationship between a caring adult volunteer and a 4-H youth.
Mentoring is a relationship-based process that occurs over time. The mentoring process can be formal or informal. This blog post will explore what it means to be a mentor and the importance of mentoring roles in youth development. The person being mentored may be referred to as a protégé or as a mentee. Mentoring is not a one-way relationship. The relationship can fulfill professional and socioemotional needs for both mentor and protégé (Inzer & Crawford, 2005).
Formal mentoring tends to occur within an organizational structure. A senior member of an organization or an adult may be assigned to serve in a mentoring role to a new member or to a youth. Informal mentoring relationships are voluntarily formed between two people who choose each other (Inzer & Crawford, 2005). A third, hybrid approach known as youth-initiated mentoring (YIM) is also an option as a model and may be optimal for building mentor relationships in 4-H programs (van Dam L. B., 2021).
Mentors play one or more of these five roles for mentees.
5 Roles of the Mentor
The following mentoring roles can be accomplished within a formal or informal mentor relationship:
- Goal Setter: Help identify and prioritize the goals of the person you are mentoring.
- Adviser: Provide advice and guidance, often based on life experience and organizational knowledge.
- Cheerleader: Encourage positive actions and celebrate success.
- Growth Cultivator: Suggest activities that will help the person grow.
- Role Model: Serve as a model of potential success and provide real-life examples of how to surmount obstacles.
Goal Setter: The mentor as goal setter helps the youth to identify potential goals to set. Mentors can also play an important role in teaching youth how to balance and prioritize goals. For example, Susy may want to win a blue ribbon at the livestock show. At the same time, Susy is also trying to maintain a 4.0-grade average and work part-time. Susy’s mentor can help her to set realistic goals that help her to develop time management skills.
Adviser: It can be helpful for youth to learn from the experiences of others. For example, Michael wants to become state 4-H president. He has connected with adult volunteer Cory, who was state president when he was a 4-H youth. Cory serves as a sounding board and often shares how he learned from mistakes and was able to build on his successes to achieve his leadership goal.
Cheerleader: The cheerleader role may seem simple but also the most important. Celebrating youth successes – whether large or small – can make a big difference in a child’s life. Marking success with recognition and encouragement helps to reinforce positive behavior and helps to build a foundation for continued achievement. For example, Anna has been working on her aim during archer
y club practice. She wants to compete in an upcoming match. You observe her stance and coach her to adjust her posture. Anna is now able to hit the center target three out of four times. You praise her improvement and celebrate the achievement with her, sharing an exuberant high five.
Growth Cultivator: 4-H professionals and volunteers often refer to growing leaders and “making the best better” – the growth cultivator does these things. As a growth cultivator, a mentor helps to point youth in the direction of the next and most appropriate challenge that will help foster positive development. For example, Nathan has prepared a strong project board display for the county fair. You suggest he use that project board to develop an illustrated talk for district showcase.
Role Model: Serving as a role model for youth may seem like a full-time job! However, the key part of being a role model is honesty. Role models do not have to be perfect, but modeling honesty and how to be accountable when mistakes are made are critical elements of being a good role model. For example, you are usually early to club activities, greeting everyone with a smile and a personal acknowledgment when they come through the door. On the way to a district council meeting, you encounter heavy traffic and run late. When you arrive, your club youth members are already there and a 4-H agent has started the meeting. At the break, you shrug off your poor mood and tell your youth, “I didn’t leave early enough to allow for rush hour traffic. That is on me. I appreciate how you were all here on time and were able to participate in the meeting before I arrived.”
3 Key Elements of Effective Mentoring
A robust, growing body of research on youth mentoring suggests that a hybrid model of targeted mentoring and relational bond mentoring may produce the best outcomes for youth development (Christensen, 2020). Targeted mentoring involves a relationship focusing on a specific outcome or behavior – such as academic or career mentoring. Relational bond mentoring focuses on developing rapport and may present a more holistic approach. 4-H is built on a developmental model that uses this hybrid approach. Youth-adult relationships may initially form to reach specific goals – such as completing a project. Over time, as the youth becomes more involved with the program, relational bonds may develop. Research by Raposa et al (2019) suggests that effective youth mentoring involves an “interconnected set of three processes (i.e., social-emotional, cognitive, and identity formation processes) through which the establishment of close, caring relationships with non-parental adults are expected to promote positive developmental trajectories” (Raposa, 2019). Effective youth mentoring is likely to incorporate all three of these elements: social-emotional, cognitive, and identity formation processes.
How Does Youth-Initiated Mentoring (YIM) Work?
4-H can have an important role in providing a structured, safe environment where youth choose and develop mentoring relationships. One way to establish these type of mentoring relationships is youth-initiated mentoring (YIM). YIM is a hybrid approach in which youths and their families are helped to identify and recruit caring adult mentors from within their existing social networks (van Dam L. R., 2021).
The 4-H youth-adult partnership model provides a structure for helping youth to identify, recruit, and maintain connections with caring adults (van Dam L. B., 2021). The key elements in YIM are youth agency and choice in establishing and maintaining relationships.
Club leader teaches poultry anatomy to youth.
Which Type of Mentor Role Fits?
The mentor role that best fits you and your mentee may incorporate one or more of the five mentor roles. It is likely that at some point during a long-term mentoring relationship a mentor will have played all of the five roles in supporting their mentor.
Become a Mentor with 4-H!
As a 4-H volunteer, you will opportunities to serve as a mentor to youth looking to form relationships with caring adults. To learn more about how to get involved, reach out to your local UF/IFAS County Extension office.
- Christensen, K. H. (2020). Non-Specific versus Targeted Approaches to Youth Mentoring: A Follow-up Meta-analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 959–972.
- Inzer, L., & Crawford, C. (2005). A Review of Formal and Informal Mentoring: Processes, Problems, and Design. Journal of Leadership Education, 33-50.
- Raposa, E. R. (2019). The Effects of Youth Mentoring Programs: A Meta-analysis of Outcome Studies. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 423–443.
- van Dam, L. B. (2021). Youth Initiated Mentoring: A Meta-analytic Study of a Hybrid Approach to Youth Mentoring. J Youth Adolescence, 219–230.
- van Dam, L. R. (2021). Youth-Initiated Mentoring as a Scalable Approach to Addressing Mental Health Problems During the COVID-19 Crisis. JAMA Psychiatry, 818.
What is a Youth-Adult Partnership?
“Youth-adult partnership” is a frequently used phrase among 4-H leaders, volunteers, and members. Volunteer club leaders are encouraged to foster youth-adult partnerships in the community club environment. What is a youth-adult partnership? How would a volunteer club leader begin to create this type of partnership? What is the adult role in the youth-adult partnership? Research shows that “caring, knowledgeable, and skilled adults can contribute to the success of young people as they grow and develop (Norman and Jordan, 2006). The first step in creating a youth-adult partnership is being the adult who wants to foster that environment in their 4-H club.
Positive Youth Development
4-H programs are built on a Positive Youth Development foundation. To further unpack what that phrase means, let’s begin with defining youth development. Norman and Jordan (2006) define “Youth development as an ongoing process through which young people attempt to meet their needs and to develop the competencies they perceive as necessary for survival and transition to adulthood.” When youth development is positive, this development has positive benefits and outcomes for the youth and the community. While youth development is a youth-focused process experienced by the youth, adults can and do play a role in this process. Adult leaders have the unique and special role of creating environments that provide opportunities to develop and grow in positive ways.
Zone of Proximal Development and the Role of the Adult Leader
Sociologist Lev Vygotsky studied how children learn and acquire skills. Through his research, he was able to determine that children can develop and learn to a certain point based on prior experience and knowledge. With the help of an adult teacher or leader, the child can learn more and acquire skills beyond what he or she might be able to accomplish without adult help. This learning theory is known as the “Zone of Proximal Development” (Vygostky, 1978). In 4-H, reaching the zone of proximal development where the youth-adult partnership empowers youth members to achieve is the goal we work to reach.
Working with Youth as Partners
The origin of today’s 4-H youth-adult partnership model is rooted in the work of sociologist William Lofquist. Lofquist (1989) developed the “Spectrum of Attitudes” to describe adult attitudes and approaches to working with youth. The Spectrum of Adult Attitudes places attitudes towards young people into three categories: Youth as objects; Youth as recipients; and Youth as partners (Williams, 2016). Lofquist noted that adult attitudes and the behaviors that result from these attitudes were not necessarily linear or clear cut. Youth needs may drive adult behaviors at different points in the learning and partnership process. In 4-H, adult leaders strive to transition youth from being knowledge recipients to being partners in learning and doing.
High school-age 4-H youth members plan and lead a 4-H robotics club.
Adults can foster and support successful youth-adult partnerships by creating and “providing environments for youth that are safe and nurturing and by expanding opportunities for experiences that will help young people develop skills they need for adulthood” (Norman and Jordan, 2006).
The idea of moving from an adult-led club to a club that operates as a youth-adult partnership may seem intimidating. Where do we start? How does it work? Volunteer club leaders may find that it takes a while to develop a community club that functions as a successful youth-adult partnership. Adults and youth may learn together as adults yield control and youth step into expanded leadership roles.
Tips for Establishing a Youth-Adult Partnership
In the club setting, creating space for shared decision-making can help build the youth-adult partnership. When adults make decisions “with” rather than “for” youth, space is created for youth voices to be heard, for youth decisions to be validated, and for youth to develop as leaders.
When youth make decisions about activities and projects, they begin to have ownership over the club experience and move toward acting as fully empowered partners with adult leaders.
How can adults create an environment that gives youth space to develop and grow as partners? Adult leaders can start building the youth-adult partnership by helping youth develop key skills to lead and run club meetings. Steps to reaching an effective youth-adult partnership include the following activities:
- Electing youth officers and providing officer training.
- Providing whole club training in parliamentary procedure with meeting procedure practice.
- Agenda planning that includes youth and adults.
- Adults joining youth-led meetings as participants.
- Setting ground rules so that everyone is heard and respected
For more information and resources on 4-H clubs and youth-adult partnerships, reach out to your local Extension office or 4-H agent.
We also have several tools and resources for office training, parliamentary procedure games, and agenda planning on our Northwest 4-H Volunteer Google Site. If you would like some hands-on training, make plans to attend our Northwest 4-H Volunteer Forum January 20-21 in Destin, Florida. Registration is available on 4HOnline
Lofquist, W. 1989. The technology of prevention workbook: A leadership development program. Tucson, AZ: Associates for Youth Development Publications.
Norman, M.N. and Jordan, J.C. 2006. Introducing 4-H youth development. EDIS 4HFFS101.2, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date February 2006. Reviewed July 2018. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
Vygotsky, L. 1978. Interaction Between Learning and Development. In Gauvain & Cole (Eds.) Readings on the Development of Children. New York: Scientific American Books. pp. 34-40
Williams, C.D. 2016. What is authentic youth engagement? The Governor’s Office for Children. Maryland.gov. https://goc.maryland.gov/authentic-youth-engagement/.
A 4-H Club Meeting
4-H Club Management
4-H Clubs that Youth Choose to Attend
Running a Smooth 4-H Business Meeting