Parents and educators are struggling with what school will look like in the fall. There are arguments for going back into the classroom, as well as arguments for remote learning, virtual academies, and home schooling — there are arguments for and against all of it. At the heart and soul of this is what is best for our youth. I can tell you I don’t have the answer, but maybe we should ask our youth, because they might surprise you by what they say.
Back in March, North Carolina 4-H made the decision that we would not work with youth face-to-face until the fall. For many 4-H Agents, like myself, that was a kick to our program. We punted and got creative. We did things on Facebook live that folks really liked. However, unless parents and teachers shared with their children, chances are that our youth didn’t see it, because you should be 13 or older to be on Facebook. We also snail-mailed kits to some of our youth, but getting them to report back on if they did anything with them was difficult.
That left us with video conferencing opportunities. Parents and youth said no; they were tired of it. One of my favorite Cloverbuds (ages 5 to 8) told me talking heads are NOT fun, and they talk too long. So there was the gauntlet. We needed to find a way to make video conferencing interactive, fun, and still allow them to accidentally learn along the way. We also needed to find the right length. Guess what? It looks like we’re doing it.
So far, we are on our second virtual 4-H day camp of the summer — Arts and Crafts Day Camp. The first was Jr. Chef, where we cooked recipes together that did not involve the stove or knives. They made fruit salad, strawberry freezer jam, and other exciting recipes that they not only liked, but plan to make again. We sent all the materials for camp home for them this week, packaged in kits. Today we spent two hours video conferencing, learning how to cross stitch. This was their first time doing it. They all finished a Christmas ornament, and as part of it, learned to sew on a button. They all said it was fun, and they can’t wait to come back. In future years, when someone asks them where they learned to sew on a button — and they will ask — their answer will be, “Duh, in 4-H!”
If you have kids who would like to be part of our summer program, feel free to download our 4-H app (through 4-H Now!) and sign them up today. Because even though we miss having them in person, we are having a virtual ball.
So, my advice as we figure out what education looks like in the fall: Parents and educators need to have input, but don’t forget the children. They will amaze you by their honesty and insight, plus they may have the key to make it work. Heck, they amaze me every day.
For more information, contact Shea Ann DeJarnette, Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent, at 910-671-3276, by E-mail at [email protected], or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.
Editor’s note: Cooperative Extension attributed the column published in the July 11-12 edition of The Robesonian to the wrong author. The column was authored by Ashley McRae.
Shea Ann DeJarnette is the 4-H Youth Development agent for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at 910-671-3276, by email at [email protected], or visit the Extension website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.
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