Incorporating reflection into 4-H club experiences

Youth need to understand what they have learned and how to process for future learning.

4-H youth gain life skills by participating in club projects such as fundraising and community service. Youth learn through attending meetings and actively taking part in the process. Youth are also able to be on a committee and help with planning an event or making decisions such as rule changes or fundraising opportunities. Once the project, activity or event is finished, youth need to stop and do some type of reflection on how the project went. Did they understand what they did? Was there a goal? What types of life skills did they learn? Taking time to evaluate or reflect on what happened and look at what can be done in the future should take place and is important for any 4-H events or activities.

Michigan 4-H youth development programs recommends incorporating the Experiential Learning Model into each club project. Experiential learning is a process where youth can set time aside to reflect on what they experienced. This can be done in many ways. The following is an example of how to do a reflection activity during a 4-H club meeting. Have everyone sit in a circle and toss a beach ball to each other. Each section of the ball will be associated with a different question for youth to answer. Examples of questions may include: “What did you learn by doing this project?” “What was your goal of this project?” “What did you learn about yourself?”

Youth involved in community service or service learning activities should get a chance to reflect on what they have done. A group leader or facilitator can sit down with the group and ask what they could have done to improve or share ideas and thoughts with others. The facilitator asks the questions while youth reflect or debrief on what they just learned. Reflection of what was accomplished or learned is part of the Experiential Learning Model as well as how youth can apply what they learned and adapt it in the future. This encourages youth to think more thoroughly about what they have gained from their 4-H experience beyond just showing a project or being a part of the group.

For more information on Michigan 4-H, please call your local Michigan State University Extension county office.

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