Engaging Teens During the School Year

It can be extremely easy for teens to get restless in school around the holidays, especially if they are juniors or seniors. We must remember that keeping them active, engaged, and involved at the Club can mean the difference between being successful or struggling during this time of the year. Of course, keeping a teen engaged is easier said than done. But we’d like you to consider the following:

Since teens do not always appreciate having restrictions imposed on them, think about implementing open-ended, creative, and/or teen-led activities during your scheduled programs. For those teens that are particularly uninvolved, consider conducting an interest inventory for them. This can take place in the form of a survey they can fill out, or have your staff members talk to them and record their answers. Knowing the interests of your teens can help your Club tailor lessons and activities so that they will feel personally invested in what is going on, since they will feel it is relevant to them. You could also have them choose from a list of activity options to gauge what they would be interested in participating in, while at the same time being mindful of what is possible to implement at your Club.

Creative writing, journaling, and/or story telling activities can be excellent ways to keep them engaged, inspired, and will allow them express themselves in a healthy, supportive environment. Resulting work can then be shared with other members, and/or displayed at the Club. If you have anyone who is very interested in writing, have him or her get involved with your Club newsletter (or create one if it does not exist!). If someone else is interested in art, have him or her take the lead during an arts & crafts lesson with your younger members. Give your teens the opportunity to take on leadership roles in conjunction with the staff. This will give them a sense of ownership, responsibility, and freedom. It can also provide staff members with the opportunity to informally mentor your teens, and promotes relationship building.

Finally, to keep teens engaged make sure that you set clear expectations for them and list them during scheduled programs and activities from the get-go. Ensure these expectations are displayed somewhere within the Club for them to see at all times. Although freedom and independence are normal for teens to want at this stage in life, it must be guided and structured to ensure their future success. That being said, we hope your Club will be able to try out the tips above! Find what works best for your group, and if you’re successful, let us know about it so we can share with other Club professionals!