Every school year, students work to identify and develop their strengths — whether that be in the arts, sciences or sports. And the more they learn about themselves, the better.

“As students become more comfortable in their YouthQuest group, they begin to open up to other students and adults, which leads to positive peer interactions,” said LaKeitha Givens, YouthQuest Program Director. “And as our staff learn about the students at their site, they are able to create lessons and plans that are more in line with the students’ interests.”

As such, YouthQuest will focus on character education during October, with activities involving teambuilding, seeking out common interests with other students and learning how to overcome the fear of failure.

For example:

  • Students in grades K-2 will be given a variety of “talking sticks,” which each identify a different topic (e.g.) food, sports team or color. The students will then be asked to share their favorite of the given topic and then briefly discuss if their favorite is the same as the majority (more than half) or if it is a minority choice (less than half). The goal: to help students consider their own personal preferences and gauge them against their peers.
  • Students in grades 3-6 will create posters about Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, The Beatles, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan or Beethoven – all successful people who experienced major failures in their careers. After learning about each of these “failures,” students will create a poster that shares the message “Don’t let failure get in your way of success!”

To extend your child’s learning beyond YouthQuest, families can use some of the following activities to keep youth engaged at home in the evenings and weekends:

  • Ask questions like, “What was the best/worst thing that happened at school today?”
  • Ask them to tell you about something that made them laugh.
  • Find out who they would like to sit by in class and why as well as who they don’t want to sit by.
  • Talk about which class they like best or which class they think is the easiest.

FOR OLDER STUDENTS

YouthQuest’s middle and high school programs focus on career- and college-prep activities that are both fun and engaging. For instance, at Northwestern High School, students recently learned how to run and evaluate a debate – which a great way to build critical thinking skills. To help your student practice their debate skills at home, select an interesting topic with two contrasting viewpoints. Assign one viewpoint to your student and the other to a friend or family member. Identify a set amount of time for them to research the topic from their assigned viewpoint, and then listen to their arguments afterward.

YouthQuest is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.