Understanding Your Students
As preteens, your students are going through a lot of changes – emotional, social, and physical – so it’s important that you provide a supportive and nurturing learning environment.
Young teens need a safe environment in order to learn. They also want to know what is expected of them. Establishing rules will create a learning environment where teens feel safe and comfortable. Students should be told at the beginning of class that they must respect their peers, their Instructor, and the property and equipment.
Remember that this can be a difficult time for young teens. As growing individuals, they are often self-conscious and easily embarrassed. They seek the approval of their peers and usually do not want to be different than other kids. Safe Sitter® recommends that you allow students to sit with their friends unless they begin to disrupt the class, as they will often feel more comfortable with friends.
Keep in mind that your students are still children learning to manage their emotions, and because of this (and the hormones that come with this stage), they will have mood swings. Be patient and kind, give your attention to each student when they speak, and provide lots of positive feedback, such as “That’s a great answer.” Young teens need verbal confirmation and acceptance. Don’t be afraid to correct any technical errors; just correct mistakes gently.
Another thing to keep in mind is that young teens need to move around. This is one reason why the Safe Sitter® curriculum includes a lot of games and activities. If it looks like they are losing interest or becoming restless, take a short break to stand up and stretch or get a drink of water.
Try to remember what it was like to be that age and be understanding with young teens. They’re still at an age where they look up to adults, so a good Instructor can have a positive impact on them!