The 6- to 8-year-old period is a time to try out abilities and interest, and gain self-confidence and self-reliance. Protecting and building the fragile self-esteem of children is a crucial function of youth leaders and adult leaders.
The "try anything once" attitude of most children of this age urges them to use all their senses in implusive ways. Boundless energies require much space for the development of skills, interests, and activities stimulated by active imaginations.
Belonging is important. To be accepted, a child needs to "act his/her age" as defined and seen by peers. Children need to feel approval and acceptance. Children do not understand or value the social expectations adults thrust on them. Children must understand the aims if discipline is to be meaningful, helpful, and effective.
Keep the above information in mind as you plan programs for youth and create an atmosphere where children can be children. Focus on the whole child, not just on the learning activities.
Emphasize success, minimize failure � it is hard for children of this age to lose. Egos are not ready to take too many blows. Keep aspirations high; show appreciation for all efforts.
Provide opportunities, situations, and stimulation that keeps both males and females enthusiastic and involved. Design activities that are hands-on, using many different senses. Short, uncomplicated, varied and fun activities that can be completed within the meeting time or allotted time are ideal for this age group.
Use activities that are open-minded so the kids may approach them at their own levels � developing their skills, physically, socially and emotionally. Lastly, use materials that are visual and graphic with lots of color at the first or second grade reading level.
For more information or ideas stop at your local Extension office. My source for this week is Clover Buds: A 4-H Discovery Program for Six to Eight Year Olds, Minnesota Extension Service, 1990.
Leadership Buzz Session at the First English Lutheran Church in Lennox, Jan. 30 at 5:45 p.m.
Mentorship Buzz Session at the 4-H Center in Vermillion, Feb. 6 at 5:45 p.m.