Creating the kind of environment in which Girl Scouts are unafraid to try new things and to be who they want to be starts with the troop leader. By meeting your troop members where they are, you’ll help them develop the leadership skills they’ll use today and in the future.
As Girl Scouts grow, you’ll experience different joys and challenges with each level. Here are some guidelines for meeting Girl Scout Juniors’ (Grades 4-5) needs and abilities.
Energy Levels and Sociability
Juniors are experiencing intellectual growth and new friendships. They are deepening relationships and discovering about the world and their inner self. Family is important to them, but their friends and interests become more important. They are social and can enjoy doing things in groups. Allow them to team up in small or large groups for art projects, performances and activities.
Your troop will be sensitive to judgment from others. Set the expectation as not perfection but growing and learning together.
Fine Motor Skills
Juniors have strong fine and gross motor skills and coordination. This means you can engage them in moving their minds and their bodies. Encourage expression through writing, choreography, art and other types of outlets.
Reading, Writing and Understanding
Juniors may have basic math skills and can be proficient at reading and writing. You can try to engage them through brief writing prompts.
They are beginning to think critically. Ask them to explain why they made a decision or to share their visions of their roles in the future. Challenge their own and others’ perspective.
Decisions and Opinions
Juniors want to make decisions and express their opinions. Whenever possible, encourage them to make decisions and express their opinions in guided discussions and reflection activities. Try having set rules for listening to others opinions and offering assistance in decision-making. Juniors are concerned about equality and fairness, so don’t shy away from discussing why rules are in place.
You may notice troop members becoming more cautious, quieter, or less likely to say what’s on their mind. Provide an atmosphere where they feel safe to speak their mind and take risks.
Self-Esteem, Self-Confidence, and Physical Changes
Kids at the Brownie age level may be starting puberty and notice physical development, skin changes, weight changes and other behavioral changes. It’s important to be sensitive to changing bodies, possible discomfort over these changes and their desire for more information. Create an environment that acknowledges and celebrates this transition as healthy and normal. Expect a wide biological, social and emotional difference amongst in your Junior Girl Scout troop.
Juniors are able to participate in all steps of planning activities and carrying out tasks. You’ll want to let troop members take turns moderating discussions, deciding how they want to plan sessions and activities. They can begin end and even lead a meeting or two.