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Growing Kids through Literacy, Creativity and Play

February 2nd, 2015

Character is an ageless hot topic for educators, parents and youth workers.  We all want to nurture character development in children, but sometimes we don’t know where to start.  And we don’t know how to find time amidst standards, tests and group dynamics.  We worked with educational experts to develop some creative strategies to build character.

Title: Growing Kids through Literacy, Creativity and Play

Description:  How do you teach character to children? You play games; you act out storybooks; you let them paint. And while they’re having fun, you weave in conversations about positive values. Explore and learn creative and playful methods for teaching character and literacy from the book, Building Character from the Start and from the guidebook “Tales Told Twice.” Collect ideas and learn how to get a free copy of the Tales Told Twice! (adaptable for grades k-12)

Audience:  k-12 educators and youth workers

Time: 2-3 hours

Schedule: 615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net

Inspiring Youth to be Bold and Courageous

January 28th, 2015

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

–Mark Twain, author

 

Encourage young people to be brave and try new things. It’s easy for people to get stuck in a rut, doing the same things they have always done. Sometimes that stems from complacency, insecurity, or fear. Challenge your youth to be adventurous and be bold. If they express fear about something they have always wanted to try, ask them to consider these questions:

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen if you tried it?
  • What’s the best thing that could happen if you tried it?
  • What would give you the courage to try it?
  • How can I or other adults support you in your adventures?

Sometimes that little push is all a young person needs. Remember that for some young people, trying new things is a scary adventure. Be the cheerleader and the encourager as you guide them into the unknown. They just might discover a whole new part of themselves along the way.

This is an excerpt from our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

 

3 Ways to Use the Arts to Explore Sparks

January 21st, 2015

Visuals can give expression to feelings and interests that words can’t express. Music can reveal emotions and aspirations better than simple words. Poetry can capture hearts, imaginations, and minds, giving us new understanding. The arts can expand our view and help us see our experiences and the world through new eyes. Collect photos, songs, and poems to use as prompts to help youth explore purpose and passion.

Strategic Moves

  • Let youth use Pinterest or Instagram to craft a visual story of the things that are important to them. Use picture books to engage with youth to explore a variety of topics. Peter H. Reynolds’s The Dot illustrates how a teacher helps a student discover a hidden talent.
  • Use music fromYouTube, Pandora, Songza, or Spotify to engage in conversations about passions and purpose. (And, as you’ll recall from Chapter X, music feeds the brain as well!) What message does the music hold? What song would they choose to represent their values? Their purpose? The difference they want to make?
  • Use poems or quotes written by youth or adults that speak to passion, purpose, and possibilities.

This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Who Are You? (A Game to Explore Diversity)

January 14th, 2015

Excerpted from Groups Troops, Clubs and Classrooms by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor, 2014

This activity, developed by Sharon Williams, a seasoned youth services professional, lets youth explore their identity. Get into pairs. One participant will be the “questioner”; the other will be the “respondent.” When the facilitator says “go,” the questioner asks, “Who are you?” The respondent answers with a descriptor of themselves (“I am a brother,” “I’m a gamer”). The questioner asks the question again, “Who are you?” and the respondent answers with a different descriptor. The question and response goes back and forth until the facilitator calls time (after about 60–90 seconds). When time is called, the partners switch roles.  Afterward, debrief them with the following questions:

  1. Did you learn something new about your partner?
  2. What things do you have in common?
  3. Looking at the different things that make you “you,” what are you most proud to be?

Want to learn more?  Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

How Culturally Savvy are You about Your Group?

January 7th, 2015

This quiz is excerpted from Groups Troops, Clubs and Classrooms by Ragsdale and Saylor.  Take it yourself to see how up you are on your young people’s heritage and youth culture.

 

How well do you . . . know them?

Do you know what name they want to go by—their given name or a nickname?

Do you know how to pronounce it correctly?

Do you know their skills and interests?

Do you know whether they have food allergies? Are any sick with a critical illness? Are any on medications?

Do you know whether they have experienced a personal trauma?

Do you know whether they have a learning difference?

Do you know their MI bent?

 

How well do you . . . know their world?

Do you know what their primary, first language is?

Do you know the current trends in youth dress?

Do you know the cultural requirements of their dress (dresses, covering faces . . .)?

Do you know their rituals and traditions?

What’s the popular manner for greeting each other? Knuckle bump? Something else?

Do you know their music? What are the top five songs/bands/groups your group is listening to?

Do you know the social media venues they use to keep up with each other?

Do you keep up with the books, movies, and art interests that appeal to your age group?

 

How well do you . . . know their family life?

Have you met their parents?

Do you know what the family rules are—the ones that might impact rules you set in your program or classroom?

Have you asked about their family traditions?

Do you know whether the family is going through something serious such as a divorce, loss of a loved one, or other major trauma?

 

How well do you . . . know their spiritual and cultural practices?

Do you know whether they must pray at a certain time each day?

Do you know whether they must avoid certain foods?

Do you know whether they are allowed to touch (shake hands, do a high five) a member of the opposite sex?

Do you know how they approach holidays? (What holidays do they celebrate? Are any holidays taboo?)

Do they have meaningful holidays that you should know about?

 

Young people are so amazingly diverse and it takes time to get to know them and their cultures.  Want to find simple strategies for discovering and embracing their diversity? Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Are You Listening?

December 24th, 2014

If you want young people to really talk and voice their opinions, you need to listen twice as much as you speak. Never ask for youth input if you don’t intend to truly use their ideas. Disregarding young people’s feedback is one of the best ways to ensure that youth won’t contribute to your planning.

Want practical ways to practice listening more attentively?  Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

5 Questions to Ask Yourself about Student Leaders

December 17th, 2014
  1. Who makes most of the decisions that affect youth in your program—youth or adults?
  2. How can you start giving youth more opportunities to make decisions in your program?
  3. What young people could you ask for program input?
  4. What would you like to know about?
  5. How will you let them know that you are listening to their feedback and implementing their ideas?

These are some of the questions we ask in our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Lunch and Learn Opportunities

December 15th, 2014

Lunch and Learns are perfect for the small group experience of 6-12 people that wants a deeper professional development opportunity. Participants meet on a regular basis and practice skills in-between sessions and have time to reflect and ask questions about implementation.  Research says that this kind of learning style is more likely to create change in work habits AND produce more long-lasting results in your organization. 

Our most popular Lunch & Learn is called:  Connect * Explore *Grow – Strategies for Youth Engagement

Description:  This interactive learning circle will explore a variety of creative strategies to engage youth – meeting them where they are in order to help them grow in mind, body and spirit. Specific strategies will include service-learning, play with purpose, discovering a sense of self, literacy and creative arts. You will leave sessions with practical and inspiring ideas to connect with young people, access to resources to help them explore the world around them and grow in their goals as well as activities to build literacy and creativity skills. Come ready to learn and share.

Length of Time:  4 Sessions, 2 hours each session

Let us know if you are interested in scheduling a Lunch & Learn for your organization or school.  We can facilitate this topic, or combine your choice of other workshops that we offer – custom-designed to fit your group.  615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net

 

Workshop Highlight: Understanding How Youth are Wired

December 6th, 2014

We’ve been doing a lot of research to understand more about how youth are wired – spending time with youth, studying personalities and researching brain development.  We’re fascinated by what we’ve learned and we’re having a blast sharing the info and practical strategies with schools and youth organizations.  Check out this workshop that we’ve designed:

Understanding How Youth are Wired

Each child is wired with unique personality, interests, skills, attitudes and capacities. Each one has individual needs, desires, dreams and wants. There ARE, however, important, general aspects and facts that can help us better understand their psyches and developmental needs. This workshop shares some key insights on the “science” and “wisdom” of human development that will help you in establishing helpful practices and attitudes to maximize your time with your group. Explore brain development, the multiple intelligences, active reflection, and the various learning styles that allow young people to learn well.  Strategies to maximize learning opportunities while actively engaging youth are presented.

Length of time: 3 – 4 hours

Contact us if you want to bring this workshop to your organization – 615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net.

Youth Heroes: Street Angels

December 5th, 2014

“Imagine a young boy raised by a father who comes home after work and is abusive to his children and wife on a regular basis. The young boy grows up to despise his father, and by the time he reaches his teenage years, is ready to make something happen. Abuse shelters are available, but sadly he’s learned not to trust adults. He could call the cops, but the last time his mom called he returned home a day later only to find her more battered than ever. So he decides what he needs to do, run away from home and finally be free from abuse.

According to a recent study by the Mobile Health Team serving local shelters and drop-in centers in Hollywood, 76.7% of runaway youth reported histories of abuse and neglect.”

The Street Angels Ministry at the Mission Gathering Church in San Diego supports homeless teenagers.   Volunteers gather twice a month to fill backpacks with supplies for survival on the streets.  They deliver the goods to young people that they meet on the streets.  Instead of just preaching the gospel, they show God’s love through their actions.  Their goal is, “To try to let teens know that they are loved and cared for despite their situation.”  For more information, visit missiongathering.com)

 

— Reprinted with permission from our book Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. Find more ways to help youth engage their skills, talents and passions in serving the community by picking up your own book at your favorite online bookseller OR bring us to your school, church or community organization to lead service-learning workshop!

Why Play? The Foundation Behind the Fun

December 1st, 2014

We talk a lot about play with purpose and learning through play.  Oftentimes people want to learn more about the power of play – why is it important and how can they facilitate powerful learning through play.  So we developed this workshop to meet that need for schools and community organizations:

Title: Why Play? The Foundation Behind the Fun

Description: Play isn’t just play. It’s transformational. Play can feed the brain; develop multiple intelligences and make a-ha moments of learning come to life. Play provides opportunities to build and transform relationships and create venues for youth voice, creativity and self-expression – all attributes that help develop the whole child. Based on the best-selling book, Great Group Games, each game connects to group development stages and to the research on Positive Youth Development. Explore the theory behind play and why games are an important part of your students’ education. Learn how to “play with purpose” – having fun AND implementing best practices at the same time. Walk away with games to help you in the classroom.

Length of time: 2-4 hours.

Also ask us about our all day train-the-trainer in The Art of Facilitating Games.

615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net.

 

From Personalities to Differences: Know Your Group

November 24th, 2014

You wouldn’t believe the number of calls we get from youth organizations and schools asking for help in bridging the gap among the untold number of diversities we are seeing in teams of youth and adults.  It can be tough to work together with a multitude of differences!  So we developed a fun, interactive, reflective workshop to help teams know their groups well and learn to work together based on the strengths found in our differences.

From Personalities to Differences: Know Your Group

Want to learn how to build relationships with the infinite variety of ways youth come to us: culturally, geographically, economically, physically, emotionally, sexually and educationally diverse. Whatever the package, we want to know them, respect them, and help them build common ground with people that are different. Personal assessments, conversations, strategies and activities will all be part of this interactive process.

Length of time:  3 hours

Wanna know more?  Contact us at 615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net.

 

 

 

Relationships – the Cornerstone of Education and Youth Work

November 19th, 2014

Connecting with youth is phenomenal progress, but it’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to positive youth development. In this chapter, we’re going to go beyond connecting with youth and cover what it means to really know youth. What it means to be in a relationship with your youth. The time you spend getting to know your youth as individuals—their personalities, quirks, cultures, strengths, and needs—is the most important time you will ever spend in your program.

Think about it: What will your youth remember most about you? Will it be the clothes you wore or how you combed your hair? In all likelihood, youth will remember the kind of relationship you had with them. More than math equations learned, knots tied, and zip-lines crossed, they will remember whether you cared about them. The best way to show you care about people is to get to know them.

Relationships are the cornerstone of your program or classroom. Relationships are built on a culmination of experiences, words, actions, body language, and time.  Never underestimate the power and influence you have on youth.

Looking for practical ideas for connecting with youth in your classroom or program? Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Building on Strengths – An Introduction to Positive Youth Development

November 17th, 2014

We work with many schools and organizations who want to embrace a strength-based orientation to youth development and education.  But they need someone to come in to describe what that means, what it looks like, and how they can integrate it into their organizational culture.  We love doing that!  Here is our most popular workshop that gives a 101 type orientation to positive youth development:

Building on Strengths – An Introduction to Positive Youth Development

Workshop description:  Our culture likes to fix things, and usually that’s good. But it’s not good to focus on the deficits and challenges of young people. It’s much more productive to focus on their strengths – and build them up from there. In this workshop, we’ll talk about strength and introduce you to the concept and practices of positive youth development and the Developmental Assets. You’ll have time to do a private assessment of your own practices and map out how you can use this approach to nurture youth in your programs.

Length of time:  2 – 2 ½ hours

Interested in knowing more?  Contact us at cad@TheAssetEdge.net or 615-262-9676

The Importance of One-on-One Time with Youth

November 12th, 2014

“The larger our society gets, the more vague and less personal . . . I find it more and more appealing to kids to attain one-on-one time with the leaders and/or adults. Only then will you find out any issues that they may be struggling with and/or be able to successfully grow a healthy relationship with them after spending this quality time together. The activity does not necessarily have to be specific here, but the efforts must be intentional.”   Valorie Buck, youth worker and mother

We believe Valorie is spot on!  That’s why we spend so much time talking about CONNECTING with youth in our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!