A research article from Penn State University states, “Leadership skills allow children to have control of their lives and the ability to make things happen.” Encouraging the development of these skills not only builds confidence but encourages collaboration, promotes problem solving, and increases their sense of responsibility. Fostering an environment where young people are empowered to lead creates bright futures for them – and helps their communities.
Here are four ways of empowering school-aged children to lead:
Make leadership inclusive
Classrooms often consist of students from varied backgrounds – with diverse talents, interests, and learning habits. It is important for educators to build an environment where these differences are embraced, and all students feel safe and supported. Recognizing and appreciating students’ unique backgrounds and strengths – and giving them a voice and sense of agency – can go far to ensure they feel heard and valued.
An article by eSchool News recommends educators “create a culture of agency where both students and teachers are empowered to take risks, be creative, and learn from failures.” When learners feel comfortable in their environment and that their voice matters, they are more inclined to (gradually) take on leadership roles and try new things… despite the fears and anxieties.
Make it fun and rewarding
Leveraging leadership as a reward will help kids associate it as a privilege. When they understand that leadership is earned, they aspire to be and do their very best. Rewards can be simple. Allow a student to plan a fun activity for the class when they show kindness towards others or show compassion for another student. This is a win-win because it teaches kids the importance of leadership and supporting one another in meaningful ways. Allow students to get creative and take part in planning their own day or incorporating something exciting into their schedules.
Put students in charge
Consider coming up with different roles such as “line leader” or “designated homework reader” to help create leadership opportunities in the classroom. New roles and responsibilities give learners something to look forward to. Student-led learning and activities help encourage children to feel confident in their ability to make meaningful contributions to the classroom and foster a community where students can lean on each other.
Help learners problem solve
Effective problem-solving allows students to take the lead in conflict resolution, which aids their overall growth and confidence. These skills help kids practice healthy communication to tackle a breadth of problems that will likely come their way. When students consistently practice problem-solving on their own, they will become more confident and capable of navigating their day-to-day lives. Encouraging students to be independent is a daily process that will have great benefits in the long run.
As young people gradually take on new roles and responsibilities, they will increasingly be equipped to succeed and deal with challenges presented to them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what they bring to the classroom and their communities.