Youth groups and afterschool programs are great places for kids to build skills and strengths outside of school. The leaders of these programs can also help you when your child is struggling.
Group leaders often work closely with kids. They know them in a different way than teachers or parents and caregivers. Some may even be teachers or specialists with experience working with kids like yours.
Here are four ways youth group or afterschool program leaders can help with your child’s challenges.
1. Share what they’re seeing in your child
If your child is struggling with a skill or behavior at home and school, the group leader may be seeing those signs, too. On the other hand, your child may show different (or no) signs in a group setting. So the leader might have insights and suggestions you haven’t heard before. That can help you better understand your child’s challenges and what your child needs more support with.
2. Suggest ways to help your child
Youth group or afterschool program leaders have experience working with all kinds of kids. The leader may know strategies that have worked with other kids who have trouble with the same things as your child. They may have even tried them with your child already.
You can use these tips and strategies at home. You can also share the ideas with your child’s teacher.
3. Connect you with other families
As a parent or caregiver trying to help your child, it’s important to know you’re not alone. You can get support and advice from a community of other parents. Your group leader may be able to connect you with other families who are having similar experiences with their child.
4. Suggest community supports or services
You may not know how to get advice or help for your child. Your child’s youth group leader can be a source of information about services in your community. That might be a mentor who can guide your child — like a young adult who used to be in the same group. Or it might be trusted local professionals who can work with your child.
How to engage the youth leader
When you pick up your child from the program, tell the leader you’d like to meet. Or you can reach out through email or phone. Explain what you’d like to talk about and how much time you think you’ll need. The meeting can happen in person or by phone.
At the meeting, be open about what you’re seeing at home, and what others have seen. Ask if the group leader has noticed similar things and how your child is doing in the program and with the other kids.
Ask if the leader has experience with other kids like yours, and if there are strategies they use to help your child. And if you need support, find out if there are other families in the community you can talk with about their experiences.
About the author
About the author
Tara Drinks is an editor at Understood.
Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.