5 Things I Learned from Working with Children

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This past week has just flown by. I imagined  myself having more time to blog, craft, and cook... and then I started summer camp. In the past few years, I have worked with children in many different scenarios, including over-night residential camps, youth development programming, after school programs, volunteering for an organization that serviced students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and now I am a part of my first summer day camp!

I have worked for the Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau since its founding last October. From September until May, the Club provided an after school program for community youth to enjoy and I served as the Middle School Program Leader for the majority of that time. A week ago, we started our summer camp and I am continuing to be the primary middle school go-to person. This past week has been quite an experience and I am reminded every day why I enjoy working with children.

Since I have been absolutely failing with blogging, I am working tonight to write some posts and have them set to post on various days throughout the next couple weeks. I actually have some down time tonight! So without further ado, I would like to share some of the things I have learned from working with children as a dedication to my first week of summer day camp!

Enjoy this photo of me being pied in the face by some kids (:

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that this is just my opinion and most of my experience is with kids between ages 10 and 15. I would love to hear from others about what they have learned from fun times with kids!

1. How to be strict in a nice voice.
I recently went through a staff training with our new Exec. Director at BGCP and one of the things that really stuck out to me was his way of addressing misbehavior to a kid. Instead of yelling at them or raising your voice, use your quietest voice. Basically, you should learn in the case of an emergency or prevention one from occurring. I tie together that quietness with my calmest, coolest, collective tone and from my experience, they are more likely to just say "yes ma'am" and correct the behavior than be defiant or talk back.

2. Kids are smarter than you think. 
This should really be a "Nuff Said" but I have watched many fellow staff members say things in front of kids that they thought would go over their little heads, but they will at the least pick up your emotional stability from your words if they don't keen in on what you are really talking about. It's like they have a sixth sense of always knowing what you really meant to say. I've also witnessed fellow staff members treat their kids as though they are developmentally 3 years younger than they really are; this is such a big mistake. If you treat them as though they are "dumb," they will either be angered by it or use it to get away with "dumb mistakes," a.k.a. misbehavior you have to forgive because you didn't want to teach them appropriate behavior beforehand.

3. Some of the worse scenarios in your eyes may just be the highlight of their week. Kids are resilient!
The great thing about kids is that they are resilient. Of course you don't want to ever put a child in danger, but "it will be okay." I once took a group of rowdy high school girls on a mountain biking trip through Dupont State Forest. An hour into the trip, I found myself with one girl with the worst case of asthma I have ever seen to this day and another with a sprained ankle. The majority of the gorup had already had their fill and was complaining of how tired and dehydrated they were (they sucked down their water fast). While trying to get ourselves back to our starting point, it also started pouring rain. I had about 15 soaked, tired, irritated girls and a couple with injuries and a ill-equipped first aid kit. I couldn't even phone back to camp to call for assistance because I had no signal! DISASTER. But at the end of the week, I overheard the girls bragging to the rest of the camp at a lunch about how awesome their mountain biking trip was and how much fun they had, even the girl with the sprained ankle. I was amazed, but it just goes to show that as long as you keep your cool and stay flexible, it will be okay and they won't hate you. I wouldn't depend on their resiliency though.

4. They love routine. They won't admit to it, but they want it and need it. 
Reliability is important for this one! If you can't be reliable and stick to the routine, you're going to lose them to their own vices, i.e. arguing with each other. Chuckie will "accidentally" push Dill into the dirt and Phil is stop being Lill's friend over a spot on the rug. Working with children will grant you with the ability to problem-solve like a pro, but you don't want to waste time solving these problems when you could be having fun with your kids. Routine is key.

5. Have fun!
If you're not having fun, then you're not doing it right. It's just that simple. If you are having fun, then they will have fun. That's all kids really want is to have fun, but if fun is not happening... then something is wrong. Not having fun and can't figure out what to do? Don't be afraid to call for assistance or ask someone with great kid experience. As much experience that I have had with kids, I still find myself in no-fun predicaments and need to call upon someone wiser with kids to figure out what to do. Having fun is essential!

1 comment:

  1. I think trying to discipline children and still be nice about it is difficult. You want to be firm so that they take you seriously and not too nice so that they think your joking. Tricky!