Equipping Quality Youth Development Professionals: Improving Child and Youth Program Experiences

Equipping Quality Youth Development Professionals: Improving Child and Youth Program Experiences

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Whether you are a seasonal volunteer, group leader or full-time professional, you need practical advice on how to provide young people with the tools they need to succeed.

Equipping Quality Youth Development Professionals—E-QYP for short—provides best practices to help young people ages six to eighteen reach their potential. It also offers age-appropriate ideas that you can translate to your specific child and youth program.

E-QYP is a handy reference for individuals, as well as a powerful volunteer and staff development tool when adopted by organizations. It also serves as a great supplement to college textbooks on child and youth development. With easy-to-read information and sample activities that really work, this guide can help you help the young people in your life.

“Youth agencies serve huge numbers of kids in the United States, but few youth workers have specific knowledge about youth development, and agency budgets tend to have few dollars for staff training. Although the training and credentialing of all youth workers remains an aspiration, workers with and without training need ready access to research-based knowledge and practices. Equipping Quality Youth Development Professionals provides both. Whether read as a whole or accessed for just-in-time information, Equipping Quality Youth Development Professionals is a timely, valuable, and much-needed resource.”

—Irv Katz, president and CEO, National Human Services Assembly and National Collaboration for Youth

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491719367
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/04/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 186
Sales rank: 886,155
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

William B. Kearney, co-owner of WBKEARNEY&Associates, has dedicated his career to helping young people. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University at Albany, State University of New York, and has worked in the nonprofit, private, and public sectors. He is married and has three children and seven grandchildren; he lives in Cumming, Georgia.

Read an Excerpt


Improving Child and Youth Program Experiences

By William B. Kearney

iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2014 William B. Kearney
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-1934-3


Fostering Physical Development

Physical development addresses these areas:

growth—a progressive increase and maturation of the body

motor skills—the use of small and large muscles

physical needs and energy levels—nutrition and sleep needs and the amount of vigor available to and expended by a child or youth

appearance—what someone looks like and the image he or she presents

The physical development of children in early elementary school (kindergarten to grade 2) has the following characteristics:

• steady growth

• development of gross motor skills (large muscle/arms, legs)

• development of fine motor skills (small muscle/hands, toes)

• a need for adequate nightly sleep and proper nutrition

Your role with young children is to use simple physical activities that develop muscle groups and coordination while encouraging effort, participation, improvement, and teamwork.

Section 1: Growth

Developmental Characteristics

Young children are experiencing slow, steady growth. They are flexible at this age because their ligaments are not yet attached. They are learning how to use their bodies to master simple physical skills, develop coordination, and strengthen muscles. Permanent teeth gradually replace the first set of front teeth (incisors and canines).

How to Apply This Information

Organize and facilitate physical activities that don't need much adult instruction. Initiate structured games, which are of high interest with this age group. Stay within young children's physical comfort level, keep fine-motor-skills activities short, and monitor frustration levels. Use both outdoor space and an indoor gym for physical activities.

Sample Activities

1. Encourage repetitive activities, such as running, throwing and catching balls, and swimming.

2. Organize active, fun, and engaging games in which children move their bodies, such as follow the leader, freeze tag, catch, hopscotch, Nerf dodge ball, and tee-ball.

3. Play appropriate music for group dancing.

4. Use age-appropriate fitness videos, such as DVDs, web-based videos, and/or fitness-based programs on gaming consoles.

Section 2: Motor Skills

Developmental Characteristics

The motor skills of younger children are still developing. Writing becomes smaller and more legible, and drawing becomes more organized. Children are developing hand-eye coordination. They are better with gross (large muscle) than fine (small muscle) motor skills, although both are developing. They have improved body coordination, yet they can still fall easily. Skill levels vary based on the amount of physical activity in which they participate and their individual characteristics.

How to Apply This Information

Offer a variety of fun, organized activities that use both small and large muscle groups, and repeat them for mastery. Give simple, repetitive directions and show patience and encouragement.

Help develop fine motor skills with crafts and drawing activities.

Engage younger children in developmentally appropriate organized sports that emphasize effort, improvement, participation, and teamwork and that build on the children's interests. Encourage enjoyment and skill development over competition. Provide a safe environment for both indoor and outdoor physical activities.

Sample Activities

1. Promote gross motor skills with activities that involve running, kicking, galloping, skipping, hopping, climbing, jumping, throwing, and catching through games such as kickball, tag, and gym/field games like red light/green light.

2. Promote fine motor skills with activities that involve cutting, gluing, coloring, and building, such as doing arts and crafts, drawing, playing with blocks or Legos, and printing letters and numbers.

3. Offer activities like bowling and biking that develop balance.

4. Provide entry-level sports with flexible rules.

5. Help younger children to use a computer, follow computer prompts, manipulate a mouse, and play age-appropriate computer games.

Section 3: Physical Needs and Energy Level

Developmental Characteristics

Younger children are very active and have boundless energy. They enjoy long periods of free play and may require rest after high-energy play. They need a full night's sleep (ten to eleven hours) and healthy, nutritious meals and snacks as they begin to develop eating habits of their own.

How to Apply This Information

Provide a balance of high-energy and sedentary activities. Promote activities that allow younger children to move around, use their bodies, and expend energy. Keep activities simple, and don't over organize or complicate activities with detailed instructions. Let younger children learn new skills and concepts by doing rather than by being told about a new skill or concept.

Provide healthy snacks and meals that include milk, fruits and vegetables, grains and nuts, and lean meats, and control unhealthy choices like sodas and candies.

Sample Activities

1. Provide properly equipped free playtime indoors and outdoors.

2. Play simple games that expend energy, such as Simon says; red light, green light; "how many steps?"; and the like.

3. Offer healthy, nutritious meals and snacks, including milk, fruits and vegetables, grains and nuts, and lean meats, as recommended by the US Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service.

4. Teach healthy eating habits.

5. Let younger children help organize and pass out snacks.

6. Share proper sleep habits, encouraging bedtimes from seven to nine o'clock based on school start times.

Section 4: Appearance

Developmental Characteristics

The physical appearance of younger children is characterized by steady growth. Parents strongly influence how they dress.

How to Apply This Information

Be supportive and encouraging to younger children about their appearance; avoid harsh criticism.

Sample Activities

1. Point out positives about younger children's appearance, such as a new haircut or new shoes.

2. Teach hand-washing and other age-appropriate grooming habits.


Promoting Cognitive Development

Cognitive development addresses these areas:

learning—mental and intellectual growth

self-understanding—awareness and concept of oneself, including one's strengths and weaknesses

mental operations—thought processes and the capacity of the brain

language skills—ability to communicate via listening, speaking, reading, and writing

motivation and questioning—the impetus to take action and query to understand things

The cognitive development of children in early elementary school (kindergarten through grade 2) is characterized by major cognitive milestones:

• Learning is exciting because language skills are expanding and they are learning to read and do basic math.

• They like to use new words and express themselves, telling stories and expressing feelings.

• They are better able to see another's point of view and compare themselves to others.

Your role is to help them learn and explore. Encourage and support new interests and hobbies, as well as opportunities for young children to express themselves. Use the senses to provide a range of enrichment activities.

Section 1: Learning

Developmental Characteristics

Younger children reach enormous cognitive milestones at this age. They are learning to read and perform basic arithmetic (addition and subtraction). Younger children's thinking is based on reality, although they can also verbalize make-believe stories. Their understanding of cause and effect—especially with respect to concrete objects and materials they can manipulate—is developing. Their attention span is very short. They think of moral dilemmas in terms of consequences and of rules as absolute and fixed by authorities.

How to Apply This Information

Engage younger children in active learning by incorporating their senses into activities. Review instructions verbally, one at a time, and repeat as needed. Support what they are learning in school with enrichment activities. Monitor younger children's use of educational websites and other online activity.

Sample Activities

1. Talk about rules and about helping others and treating them with respect.

2. Offer daily physical activities that support fitness while advancing cognitive development.

3. Read to younger children and encourage them to read and write on their own.

4. Organize an outdoor scavenger hunt to find certain items, including sounds, smells, and textures.

5. Provide a food-related activity that highlights sight, touch, and hearing and explores smell and taste.

6. Encourage younger children to create collections and to group and categorize them in multiple ways.

7. View age-appropriate educational TV shows and DVDs and allow younger children to discuss their views on the basic moral situations posed.

8. Help younger children learn to use educational electronic games and software on the computer and to follow basic instructions. Promoting Cognitive Development

Section 2: Self-Understanding

Developmental Characteristics

Younger children are self-absorbed; empathy develops as they age. They are improving in their ability to understand their feelings and regulate their emotions.

Children at this age compare their own characteristics and abilities with those of their peers. They become better at seeing another's point of view and incorporating this into their definition of self and evaluation of their competencies.

How to Apply This Information

Encourage younger children to imagine what other people think and feel in different situations and circumstances. Augment with make-believe activities. Provide rewarding experiences to facilitate positive self-regard and acceptance of self.

Sample Activities

1. Encourage younger children to feel responsible by asking them to help with setup and cleanup.

2. Read books aloud and ask questions about each character's thoughts, feelings, and motives.

3. Role-play situations that explore other people's thoughts, feelings, and motives.

4. Incorporate dress-up activities that allow children to make-believe a variety of roles, characters, and situations.

5. Organize special culture days and events that feature food, music, language, and performances.

Section 3: Mental Operations

Developmental Characteristics

Younger children have singular mental operations with a short interest span. They live in the "now." They often have difficulty delaying immediate gratification but gain ability in this area as they mature. They define things by their use. Their interest is more in the activity than the result. Their sense of time is developing; they can understand time of day and days of the week.

During this stage, younger children develop the ability to sort, categorize, and group things that belong together. They understand that a dollar would be grouped with other forms of money, for example, and they can apply this concept to other concrete objects they have seen or touched.

How to Apply This Information

Younger children enjoy playing problem-solving games and collecting things; offer these activities when possible. Incorporate a variety of short, specific activities with concrete concepts that build on each other. It is okay to work on a project rather than complete it. Focus on the process, not on the product or outcome. Focus on individual progress in the development of abilities and competencies.

Sample Activities

1. Provide opportunities for younger children to create collections, such as pictures, stamps, shells, or flowers, kept in special boxes or books that reinforce the development of simple organizing skills.

2. Use problem-solving games that build in steps, such as simple jigsaw puzzles and age-appropriate board games.

3. Encourage art-related activities, like finger painting, Play-Doh sculpting, and drawing.

4. Take field trips to libraries, children's museums, and other age-appropriate community resources.

5. Offer daily physical activities that support fitness while advancing cognitive development.

Section 4: Language Skills

Developmental Characteristics

For younger children, language is egocentric but social. They like to tell stories and express their feelings. They can communicate in clear and complete sentences. They like to speak freely and are interested in learning new words.

At this age, all new learning involves the use of language. Younger children can understand language better than they can speak it. They can read words and combinations of words. They achieve milestones in basic arithmetic (adding and subtracting).

How to Apply This Information

Listen to and show interest in younger children as they express themselves and their feelings. Introduce some writing activities as children develop reading skills, but avoid excessive writing.

Sample Activities

1. Create a storytelling time for younger children to share stories with the group.

2. Read aloud to younger children and then discuss the book.

3. Make available children's magazines like Highlights, AppleSeeds, and Ranger Rick.

4. Provide opportunities for younger children to quantify and compare things and practice their new math skills.

5. Help children see words everywhere; label objects in their program space.

6. Introduce words of the day.

7. Encourage younger children to keep a journal.

Section 5: Motivation and Questioning

Developmental Characteristics

Younger children are eager to learn. They are easily motivated and enthusiastic about trying new things. They are curious and ask why to understand and make sense of their world.

Their understanding is that different perspectives are based on different information; this progresses during this stage to being able to see another perspective based on another person's point of view.

How to Apply This Information

Help younger children understand the things they have questions about. Encourage them to develop new hobbies and interests. Allow for exploration and spontaneity in activities. Younger children may need help when starting a new task.

Sample Activities

1. Plan and hold scavenger hunts.

2. Organize activities—such as drawing, painting with watercolors, coloring with crayons, molding Play-Doh, taking pictures, singing, and playing different instruments—to expose younger children to a range of possible interests.

3. Provide age-appropriate books and magazines so younger children can learn about a variety of topics.

4. Spend time answering questions younger children may have.


Excerpted from EQUIPPING QUALITY YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROFESSIONALS by William B. Kearney. Copyright © 2014 William B. Kearney. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Foreword, ix,
Preface, xiii,
Acknowledgments, xv,
Introduction, xvii,
Part 1: Nurturing Young Children (Ages Six to Eight), 1,
Chapter 1 Fostering Physical Development, 3,
Chapter 2 Promoting Cognitive Development, 11,
Chapter 3 Encouraging Social Development, 21,
Chapter 4 Supporting Emotional Development, 29,
Part 2: Supporting Older Children (Ages Nine to Eleven), 35,
Chapter 5 Fostering Physical Development, 37,
Chapter 6 Promoting Cognitive Development, 45,
Chapter 7 Encouraging Social Development, 55,
Chapter 8 Supporting Emotional Development, 65,
Part 3: Guiding Young Teens (Ages Twelve to Fourteen), 71,
Chapter 9 Fostering Physical Development, 73,
Chapter 10 Promoting Cognitive Development, 83,
Chapter 11 Encouraging Social Development, 93,
Chapter 12 Supporting Emotional Development, 103,
Part 4: Mentoring Older Teens (Ages Fifteen to Eighteen), 111,
Chapter 13 Fostering Physical Development, 113,
Chapter 14 Promoting Cognitive Development, 121,
Chapter 15 Encouraging Social Development, 133,
Chapter 16 Supporting Emotional Development, 145,
What's Next?, 151,
Afterword, 155,
About the Author, 163,

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