Cloverbud programs set the stage for success – Part 4

Cloverbud programs should include activity based experiences and be cooperative learning centered.

The Cloverbud program’s goal is to promote healthy development in children by enhancing life skills such as social-interaction, self esteem, making choices, and learning to learn. Scott Scheer, Extension specialist at The Ohio State University, has effectively outlined ten parameters for successful Cloverbud programs in Ohio. Because of program differences between states, nine of those parameters are extremely applicable in Michigan 4-H programs. This article will expound on the parameters that Scheer outlined for successful Cloverbud programming, safe activities for children.

As the previous article discussed, youth in the 5 to 8 year-old range have limitations in what they are capable of physically, mentally and emotionally. These limitations exist because youth are still developing. Most 5 to 8 year-olds are not fully aware of the real dangers that animals, kitchen appliances, machinery and outdoor activities can pose. Youth often times do not understand the consequences of not following directions.

Additionally, in animal science programs, youth 5 to 8 years old often lack the mental and physical skills for controlling and understanding the strength of larger animals. Working with livestock and animals was reported as the leading cause of injury for children in Ohio. Additionally, the American Medical Equestrian Association advises that young children need to have the strength, balance and attention span to adequately ride animals.

Volunteers must take extreme care to ensure that activities are low risk and safe for youth, in the case that directions are not followed. Some suggestions to lower risk in animal science programs are:

  •  Have plenty of adult helpers when working with live animals. A 1:1 ratio is appropriate when working with youth 5 to 8 years old.
  • Make sure that all safety equipment, such as riding helmets, are used.
  • Properly screen out animals that may not be calm and gentle mannered, remember that 5 to 8 year-olds do not have the same reaction time as adults.

The next article in this series will focus on the distinct difference between programs geared towards 5 to 8 year-olds versus those geared towards 9 to 19 year-olds, and how animals and animal subject matter should contribute to Cloverbud objectives and parameters.

Did you find this article useful?