You know the kids I mean. These are kids who have been at the program the longest. They’ve seen every craft, heard every attention getter, and played every game. Not only has it become repetitive to them but sometimes they feel they are too old for these activities. Often times they may feel like they don’t belong anymore. Boredom and apathy lead to discipline problems. So how do you reach out to these students? They’re not quite pre-teens but they are also not little kids anymore either. They are tweens (at my school this is the 5th and 6th grade group). Here are some tips and strategies for planning After School Activities and Clubs that will be entertaining and interesting to Tweens.
Provide long term, detailed oriented projects:
Having knitting, crocheting or quilting club may be a good choice for girls and Woodworking or Race Car Club for boys. The projects involved with these clubs require learning advanced techniques. They will be able to develop a strong sense of personal accomplishment that is different from what younger students are doing.
Provide a sense of Ownership-
Let them set the pace and choose their club theme and maybe even think of activities they might enjoy
Provide them with Leadership roles-
Building leadership skills is important. Maybe try giving older students the opportunity to be helpers during Clubs time. This will help build their leadership skills, responsibility and self-esteem. Also, many older students will still enjoy attending After School Clubs. Giving the chance to be a helper and a role model for younger students may lead to a more fulfilling experience for them!
Provide them with their Own space-
Even if it is just just a corner of the room dedicated to Upper Grade Students these students will appreciate having their own space. If you are feeling creative you can even decorate it to their liking. I also find that they enjoy having beanbags or a tube chair to sit in.
Create an environment of Mutual Respect-
Take the time to set rules to provide an atmosphere of mutual respect. Try to use language that is relatable to the children at your school.
Provide Less Structured activities–
Maybe this could mean being more flexible with a project timeline or having process art vs. product art. Process Art focuses on the creative process of the artist, rather than the finished product. The end result will therefore be unique to each artist! This will help them feel more independent. Of course, have adults nearby to supervise assist when needed.
What ideas have worked for you in getting older students interested and enthusiastic in an after-school program?