Five life skills to focus on in 4-H cloverbud programming

Promoting healthy development in 4-H cloverbud programming is the No. 1 goal. Highlighting five life skills is a great way to accomplish that.

Cloverbud members who are between the ages of 5 and 8 are a fun, energetic audience to work with. They are creative, imaginative, full of energy, and best of all are learning sponges. They soak up every piece of information that is presented to them. Working with this age group is approached differently than the work we do with 9 to 19 year olds. Cloverbud programs are more activity centered, leader directed and participatory.

Here are five life skills that promote healthy development in children that volunteers working with cloverbuds should focus on to make their programs a success.

  1. Social interaction. Volunteers can model positive social interaction for children. Designing programs and activities to help children practice appropriate and positive interaction in social settings can be done easily in various activities during club meetings or outings.
  2. Self-esteem. The activities we do in a club set children up for success. Remember, that doesn’t mean everything goes their way and everything in the project or activity is perfect for them; it means we are intentional about praising the positive things that are happening and when a challenge occurs, we help the child work through it in a constructive way. Children in a safe environment will try new things and build their knowledge and skills, which will help them build a healthy and positive view of themselves.
  3. Physical mastery. Working on a specific skill or project and helping children master that skill is the ultimate goal. Again, that doesn’t mean they won’t have challenges through the process, but with the proper guidance and support, they are able to master the task. Remember the Thomas Edison story about failing 99 times before inventing the light bulb? We have to remember sometimes our best and most important learning comes from failing. The skill that is being mastered is being done in a safe, positive and supportive environment so children can take risks and try. Skills being taught should always be developmentally appropriate, taking into consideration the physical and emotional capabilities of the child.
  4. Making choices. Allowing children the opportunity to make choices will help them develop that skill. When working with children between 5 and 8, the choice options may be small. For example, “We can do X or we can do Z, why don’t you think about it and choose which choice you’d like.” Remember that choice X and Z shouldn’t be the obvious right choice and the obvious wrong choice, but it should be two different choices that will get the child to the ultimate goal.
  5. Learning to learn. Learning to learn is probably one of the most overlooked of all the life skills. We have to be intentional about teaching ourselves to continually learn. Children are the same. Instilling a love for learning early will help them develop that life skill and become lifelong learners. Ask questions and encourage them to find out more about a topic; this is how we can reinforce there is always something to learn.

To learn more about the resources Michigan 4-H Life Skill development has to offer, please visit the Michigan State University Extension Life Skills page. 

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