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January 20, 2022

The students in your program are not likely to be “spoiled” at home, though you might find they’re occasionally “indulged” by parents wishing they could make their lives just a little easier. With a quick review of the milestone matrix prepared by Y4Y to accompany the new Stages of Child and Adolescent Development course, you’ll gain some basic ideas of what students need most from the adults in their lives at various stages of development. Use these tips and additional Y4Y tools to explore those areas where your program can offer students the royal treatment by supporting healthy growth and development for the best possible life outcomes.

Students ages 4-6 are improving their fine motor skills, are beginning to understand cause and effect, and want to show off their skills. Ways to support these areas of development include

  • Establishing a program space rich with materials that “grow with” young peoples’ motor development, like crayons and paint brushes in different sizes.
  • Asking many leading questions, even ones that are not lesson-oriented, like “What could happen if I don’t tie this long shoelace of mine?”
  • Creating opportunities to show off talents great and small, reminding students to encourage one another and not always take a competitive position. For example: a hopping-on-one-foot “break” (not contest) could be a nice way to take a breather from academics. You can call out different students for how creatively or slowly they hop as well as the student who hops the longest.

Check out Y4Y’s Facilitating Positive Youth Development in Summer Learning Training to Go.

Students ages 6-9 may become more physical in their games, are beginning to read to learn once they’ve learned to read, and are beginning to identify their own personality traits in comparison with others. Ways to support these areas of development include

  • Offering a variety of options during outdoor playtime with established safety ground rules and the opportunity to play contact sports to the degree all participants are comfortable.
  • Coordinating with school partners like the librarian to offer interesting reading material that supports academics. Offer “fact treasure hunt” activities.
  • Providing daily reflection opportunities. Choose an adjective each day like “confident,” “strong,” or “smart,” and ask students to remember a moment in their day when they saw this trait in themselves.

Check out Y4Y’s Effective Questioning literacy tool and Best Practices for Mindfulness tool.

Students ages 9-12 are developing faster reaction times, experiencing a rise in self-esteem as interest-based peer groups emerge, and are increasingly able to monitor and direct their own progress toward a long-term goal. Ways to support these areas of development include

  • Interspersing “rapid-fire” quizzing as a study strategy for students who enjoy that activity and are not stressed by it.
  • Offering icebreaker activities throughout the year to help students continually look for things in common with all their peers. Challenge them to make “unexpected” connections.
  • Allowing long-term group projects to be centered on student voice and choice and student-driven goal setting.

Check out Y4Y’s Icebreaker Activities and Student Goal Setting and Reflection – Middle School.

Students ages 12-15 are completing puberty, growing critical of adults and siblings, may thrive on conflict ranging from intellectual debate to serious rebellion, and becoming anxious for the future. Ways to support these areas of development include

  • Firmly establishing your program as a safe space for different opinions and life experiences while fostering constructive debates about society and the world around your students.
  • Forging deeper trust and connections with students while maintaining healthy boundaries between adults and teens.
  • Offering a wide variety of career pathway activities to broaden students’ horizons and help them to envision themselves as successful adults.

Check out Y4Y’s Incorporating Multiple Viewpoints Checklist and Career Pathways Activity Design Guidebook.

Students ages 15-18 are physically mature or nearly so, likely to be feeling strong emotions like anger or loneliness even if those emotions aren’t always obvious, and are increasingly able to take everything they’ve learned to make decisions about their future. Ways to support these areas of development include

  • Encouraging initiative and leadership skills in your program and beyond.
  • Continuing to educate students on all aspects of lifelong health and wellness, centered on better understanding themselves and their own needs, and making good choices in much more “adult” arenas.
  • Offering guidance through the practical aspects of career pathway choices such as test prep, college or apprenticeship applications, or speaking with military recruiters.

Check out Y4Y’s Youth Leadership Roles tool and Student Self-Assessment: Late Adolescence.

No Such Thing as a Spoiled Child

It may be decades before we can successfully remove the term “spoiled” from the long list of adjectives we might use for children. But as a youth worker, you understand better than most that term simply means that expectations on a child do not match what is developmentally appropriate for them. Often you are aware of why this might be the case for the students in your program. But raising these princes and princesses to be their best selves is an honor you share with their parents, so remember to team up with tools like Y4Y’s Sample Caregiver Survey and Partnering With Families for Healthy Child Development Training to Go.

One day your students will rule the world. We’ll all benefit from them ruling wisely.



January 4, 2022

Accelerated learning rules all during this academic year. Place your students on their right-sized thrones with tips from Y4Y’s new Click & Go on homework and tutoring sessions and Human Resources course. But partnering with the school day doesn’t end with academics! Your program also has agency to address student health and wellness as their school days are jam-packed with other duties. Ensure that your palace of learning is perfectly appointed for whole child support for the rest of the program year with help from Y4Y’s crown jewels.

The Data in Your Kingdom

Updated Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) measures for 21st CCLC have you keenly aware of the importance of data in your community. You can glimpse those updated measures in Chapter 2 of the Introduction Section of Y4Y’s updated course, Introduction to 21st CCLCs. The data you captured at the outset of this program year should be informing how you structure your homework and tutoring time to be sure you support the school day with accelerated learning. But some midyear checks might have you considering a little restructuring. Go back to the Y4Y Five Key Strategies tool and Homework Help vs. Tutoring tool for the basics, beginning with what your staffing should look like.

The Right Hand of the Throne

If you’re going to place each student on their right-sized throne of learning, the staff member who sits by their side will make all the difference. Taking tips from the mini-lesson on what your staff numbers and qualifications need to be, consult the Y4Y Human Resources Planning Checklist for guidance on possible midyear hires, or better still, your summer program planning. If you have new leaders who have their own learning curves to accelerate, the staff training on conducting an effective interview is a great place to start. In 21st CCLC programs, you can never lower those shields against turnover! Also train leaders on employee retention to ensure continuity for student learning.

A Royal Wedding

The school-day partnership your 21st CCLC program enjoys is always going to be at the heart of your program’s success. You’ll need to satisfy those student data needs, communicate about homework, and access school-day staff and academic resources when you consider that program success is measured, in part, by students’ school-day success. Y4Y offers many more tools to build and strengthen this relationship, whether you’re part of the fabric of your school district or a community-based organization still proving your worth. Remember: In out-of-school time, you have the unique opportunity to support other aspects of student success. But it can’t be done alone. Partner on student health and wellness and understand everyone’s roles and responsibilities as you align social and emotional learning goals with school-day initiatives.

Her/His Royal Highness

The students in your program may not have many opportunities in life to feel special. At the end of the day, if your 21st CCLC program accomplishes nothing else, building self-esteem, contributing to healthy growth and development, and helping students see that you will always treat them with the dignity of royalty can still make or break the long-term outcomes for these children you cherish. Y4Y offers many resources to help you implement these less tangible goals, including a new course on stages of child and adolescent development, which includes training on understanding development and connecting with children. Plus, the course on creating a positive learning environment includes quick tips for implementing basic strategies.

Beloved Princess Diana said of her role in the royal family, “Nothing brings me more happiness than to help the most vulnerable people in society.” Never forget that you are royalty, too. Your place in your 21st CCLC program may carry great duty, but it also offers great rewards.



December 16, 2021

Imposter Syndrome — the feeling that you don’t belong in the environment you’ve worked toward — is very real and seems to impact women and minorities most. Some of the self-doubt professionals feel is reinforced by memories of the messaging they received — both direct and indirect — from the adults who helped to shape their lives. This realization can be both scary and exciting as you consider the power you have in the lives of your students. Use tools from several courses for tips on how you can turn the tables on imposter syndrome and set your students up for success in any field.

Relationships Are the Root

The stronger your relationship is with your students, the more weight your words will carry with them. Most of us can remember at least one teacher with a reputation for meanness. And while, as adults, we recognize it could not have been easy to be on the receiving end of that meanness, it was likely easier to live with than even slightly disappointing a cherished mentor. To lay the groundwork for strong connections with your students, Y4Y offers a staff Training to Go, Building Relationships, and a brand-new training that takes childhood development into account: Understanding Development and Connecting With Children. Also check out Strategies for Creating a Positive Learning Environment, and take an active role in team-building activities.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

One educator-turned-mom blogger, Shelly Stasney, cites three psychological and child development theories that reinforce the idea that, as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, children will become what you say they are. These theories are echoed in the research compiled in the “theories” tool in Y4Y’s Stages of Child and Adolescent Development course. In fact, a course matrix shows that children as young as four years old are forming new images of themselves based on how others view them. The basics of social and emotional learning also remind us that the first and most fundamental skill is self-awareness, so if your program is offering any social and emotional learning skill-building, you’re actively opening students up to taking in and taking on your perspective of who they are. As you consider the students in your program who may be more vulnerable as adults to imposter syndrome, you can use this awesome “power” to build up those little psyches. Every challenge is an opportunity for honest praise. If a child displays:

  • Disruptive behavior, say “I love that you have so much enthusiasm that it’s hard to wait your turn!”
  • Shyness, say “I can tell you have some powerful thinking going on in there!”
  • Self-doubt, say “I believe in you! Want to know why? Because I’ve seen you accomplish amazing things like coming to the program on time every single day all year. You might say that’s easy, but not everyone does it!”
  • Discomfort with anything academic, say “Using your mind is mostly about problem solving. Remember what a great job you did at problem solving when there weren’t enough kids to play a game of basketball? We’re ALL using our brain power every day!”

Passive Imagery

Even if you’ve built trust and actively given positive, personalized messages to your students, there’s only so much you can do about the world outside your program. Be sure to include lots of passive, diverse imagery in your program space and materials. Invite guest speakers that “look like” your students, such as a female surgeon, a college professor from the inner city or an attorney who uses a wheelchair. And teach students to “think big” when it comes to imagining their futures. Y4Y’s newly updated Career Pathways for Students course offers many tools like the Career Pathways Activity Design Guidebook to help students head imposter syndrome off at the pass by envisioning those futures from a young age.

Although you may be focusing efforts on acceleration of learning and general academics, don’t lose sight of the opportunity to expose your students to real-world careers in ways that help them to see themselves there. Not sure where to start? Check these Y4Y courses for activities that connect students to a variety of professions:

Activist Buckminster Fuller once said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” In your 21st CCLC program, you have the power to build a new generation of diverse professionals who won’t just do amazing things, but feel it was always their destiny.



December 16, 2021

Every student is a wonder. As you get to know your students through the program year (or years), you may marvel at each child’s uniqueness. Maybe one student tells you every day why he picked out the T-shirt he’s wearing. Another gives away that she’s fibbing when she does a little spin on her toes. While you celebrate the traits and habits that make up their individuality, human nature leads us to look for those things that also unite us — those patterns that give us the comfort of predictability. Y4Y’s new course on the stages of child and adolescent development (SCAD) helps you see both sides of the coin: predictable aspects of human development as well as individual variations.

An Evolving Field

Human development is an evolving field. Researchers regularly gain new insights about what it means to go from entering this world to leaving it, identifying those things that are fairly consistent among us and where variations may occur. The research brief that accompanies the new course summarizes those insights and helps you see how theories built on one another over time. The course’s “at-a-glance” tool provides an overview of child and adolescent development and the Y4Y course.

Areas and Stages

Most experts agree on the practice of treating development as something that can logically be broken into chronological phases or stages, even if experts don’t always agree on how many stages there are or where the lines of demarcation belong. In the Y4Y course, infancy refers to birth to age 3, early childhood ages 3-6, middle childhood ages 6-9, late childhood/early adolescence ages 9-12, middle adolescence ages 12-15 and late adolescence ages 15-18. For each stage, the course addresses three basic areas of development: physical, social and emotional, and cognitive. A development matrix forms when you consider milestones — or standard developmental accomplishments — for each stage and area of development. Understanding this matrix can help you recognize when a child’s developmental path diverges with that of their peers, decide if it’s cause for concern and take appropriate action.

More to the Story

Be sure to check out the full complement of tools with Y4Y’s Stages of Child and Adolescent Development course.

  • The Planning Checklist will walk you through steps to include as your program considers how child and adolescent development will be addressed.
  • The Identifying and Supporting Learning Styles tool will expand your understanding of some characteristics that make students different from one another.
  • The Sample Caregiver Survey will help you partner with families in setting individualized goals for their children. Use this tool in conjunction with your Individualized Observation Log for students in early childhood, middle childhood or late childhood.
  • Companions to these goal/observation tools as students progress through adolescence and take ownership of their own goals are Y4Y’s student self-assessments for early and late adolescence.
  • In light of the threat to healthy development that too much screen time can pose, check out the Screen Time Alternatives tool.

Three staff Trainings to Go are also available with this course:

  1. Building a Strong Program Team: Focus on Child and Adolescent Development 
  • Reflect on stages of child development from birth to adolescence in four areas: physical, cognitive, social and emotional.​ 
  • Understand that even within a peer group, students can be at different points of development and therefore respond differently to their environment.​ 
  • Explore the advantages of having team members attuned to the various elements of child and adolescent development.​ 
  • Gain strategies for recruiting and retaining a well-rounded team to support your students’ development. 
  1. Partnering With Families for Healthy Child Development 
  • Reflect on how programs can support healthy child and adolescent development in four areas.​ 
  • Learn strategies for collaborating and communicating with families.​ 
  • Consider families’ roles in supporting the healthy development of students your program.
  • Develop mission statements that reflect a commitment to partnering with families to support students’ development. 
  1. Understanding Development and Connecting With Children 
  • Discuss why it’s important for students to feel connected to the adults in your program.​ 
  • Examine social-emotional development from early childhood through adolescence.​ 
  • Reflect the keys to any healthy human relationship.​ 
  • Identify strategies for building positive, nurturing relationships with children of different ages.​ 

It can be exciting to learn just how much individuality is baked into healthy child and adolescent development. Learning about standard milestones doesn’t mean that you’re only celebrating student uniformity. Instead, you’ll be better positioned to help each student on their own path to developing into healthy grown individuals, inside and out.



October 21, 2021

Will the wide receiver go long? Will the running back run it up the middle? What about a quarterback sneak? You’ve always got the Hail Mary in a pinch! Y4Y’s newest course on career pathways emphasizes that students have numerous, equally effective ways to score in the end zone. Six points are six points, however you get there!

Throw a Pass to Trades

Many young people have already discovered that going straight to college may not be the “obvious” choice it was once thought to be. An estimate of spring 2021 U.S. college enrollment revealed that 200,000 fewer women and a dramatic 400,000 fewer men were attending college from just one year earlier. The National Association of Workforce Boards notes:

“The nation’s home builders face a severe skilled labor shortage. Some of the jobs that are in highest demand are carpenters, electricians, HVAC and solar installers, plumbers, painters, and masonry workers. In the previous two quarters, unfilled positions in construction have averaged 275,000,” according to Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders.

The National Association of Workforce Boards says “it’s time for a major national focus on training new workers in the skilled building trades. First on the agenda must be a change in the perception of trade jobs. Too many high school students, and those who influence their decisions, never consider the opportunities available for well-paying jobs and promising careers in construction after graduation.”

Your 21st CCLC Goes Long

Does your program “influence the decisions” of your high school students while helping them make their own choices? You are if you’re meeting your goals! Y4Y’s new course walks you through a comprehensive and individualized approach to guiding students to the end zone. With pathways that wind through the trades, military, workforce and college, students can gain a broader-than-ever view of their options for the future. You’ll be setting up the play for both personal reflection and career exploration.

Cover the Player

Here are just a few tools you can use in your program to help students gain important insights about themselves through the first half.

After halftime, run the whole field by exploring careers and the right paths to get there with more course tools.

Texas coach Darrell Royal famously said, “There are three things that can happen on a forward pass — and two of them are bad.” Help your student complete that pass, wherever they are on the field, and keep their eye on the endzone. Your 21st CCLC program is the perfect place to help students understand that college is just one of many plays that can deliver them to a winning career and future.