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Developed by the South Fraser Valley Regional Child & Youth Committee in partnership with Fraser Region Community Justice Initiatives Association

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Building Assets in Middle Childhood

What you can do to make a difference in the lives of children 6 to 11 years of age

 

During the middle childhood years, children start attend school, are making friends outside the immediate family, mastering new physical and mental skills, and becoming more and more individual. Positive interactions with the adults in their lives can make a significant difference during this crucial period. The information on this page has been compiled for Social Service Providers that frequently interact with children of this age group.

 

 


Photo: Paul Anderson, Morguefile

SUPPORT


Encourage each child to explore the ways they like to spend their time. Support them in pursuing their passions. 
 

 

Help children learn about topics that interests them. Find books of the appropriate reading level that will help them learn about these topics.
 

 

It is okay to disagree with children but try to understand where they are coming from and let them know that you respect their perspective.

Example: When a child is resistant to participating in a group activity, acknowledge their need to be alone but encourage them to continue when they feel they are ready. (Also be alert for children who consistently avoid group activities. This may be a sign of something more serious. Engage this child as much as possible to ensure that it’s just shyness or a temporary need for solitude and nothing more.)
 

Help children reach a goal that they have said is important to them.

Example: If a child wants to get a good report card, support with them in doing their homework or help find a tutor. 
 

Have information resources available for parents about ways to build positive communication skills with their children.
 

 

EMPOWERMENT


Encourage children to openly express their views and concerns about issues.


Example:
Encourage children to write to the local city/municipal government about issues that are important to them.
 

Spend time finding out what each child likes and dislikes about their daily routine. Help them discover ways to improve the parts of the routine that they do not like, and to enhance the parts that they do like.

Examples:  
• If a child tells you they are usually bored after school, help them find a hobby or activity they can engage in.

• Encourage children to volunteer

• Connect children with seniors in their community
 

Encourage children’s input about your programs. Ask for their feedback to help ensure that your program is effective with its target group. Include children when making certain decisions, as appropriate.
 

 

BOUNDARIES & EXPECTATIONS


Be firm about boundaries that are meant to keep children safe. Refrain from “bending” boundaries; be consistent and absolute about what is OK and what is not OK when the children are in your care. These boundaries should be rational, logical and transparent to the children.
 


Example:
Make a list of boundaries and post it in a visible place on the wall. List the acceptable and unacceptable behaviours.

Have high expectations that children will do well in school. Provide resources to help them progress and offer help if needed
 

Example: Have a space available where children can do homework.

Encourage consistent boundaries and consequences in all aspects in a child’s life (home, school, neighborhood, organizations, etc.) so they know how to act in each setting.

Example: Publish information about boundaries and expectations in a newsletter. Offer these resources to other agencies so they can promote them in their work and communities alike.
 

Talk with children about why laws exist and why it is important to stay within the guidelines of the law. Answer questions they have around this topic and explore issues with them if they are unclear about their boundaries in the community.
 

 

Connect children with police officers in positive ways in the community.  Teach children that Police are there to support the public and keep the peace.  These are people to trust and respect.
 

 

CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME


Model and teach children ways to balance time so they can learn to maintain a healthy routine without having too many or too few obligations.


Example:
In your programs, spend time talking about the importance of having hobbies and goals.
 

Teach the importance of “Caring for self and hygiene”.  

 

Example: Make a list with children about important ways to take care of one’s self, such as personal hygiene, writing in a journal, or spending time playing with friends.
 

Encourage children to get involved in out-of-home activities that are led by other adults.

Example: Compile resources in on a variety of local after-school activities that children can get involved with (swimming, ice skating, dance/music/art lessons, leisure sports, martial arts, etc.)
 

COMMITMENT TO LEARNING


Talk with children about ways to learn more about subjects that really interest them. If they are unsure, spend time exploring different subjects to find out what they really enjoy.

 

Have age-appropriate reading material available. When opportunities arise, have the children read to you.

 

Understand the difference in the ways children learn.  The different learning styles and the differences between genders.  Offer learning that meets many different styles so all children can be successful.

 

Examples:
Do math on the basketball court.
• Offer study areas that are quiet and others that have music
• Provide items that stimulate sensory systems such as bean bag chairs, balance beams, swings, squishy balls and heavy muscle  equipment like weights and muscle balls.
 

Offer to help children organize their schedules so that they are allotted a certain amount of homework time per day as well as time to spend doing the other things they enjoy.

 Example: Have blank weekly calendars on hand that you can fill out with children.
 

Check in with children you know every time you see them. Ask if they are keeping up with their homework and encourage them to stay motivated.
 

 

Know that learning includes other things than just books and that extra curricular activities can enhance a child’s book learning. Ask about sports activities they did on the weekend or a dance recital they attended.  Show them that extra curricular activities are important by remembering and commenting about them.
 

 

POSITIVE VALUES


Spend time learning the strengths, as well as the needs, of the children you work with so you can build on the strengths and eventually reduce the needs.


Examples:

• Get to know the children you work with and build trust with them.
• Assess their strengths and needs by using an Assets Checklist.   
• Encourage children to make personal strength charts and post them about the room. For example: Susie is the best shoe-tier, knows French, and is a computer whiz! This not only builds self esteem but encourages social skills and peer relations.
 

Have a list of local service agencies that families can get involved with. Encourage families to participate. This promotes the value of community building, contributing to the community, and the importance of volunteering.

Example: Local service agencies may include a food bank, animal shelter, or homeless shelter, or organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army.
 

Decorate your walls with definitions and quotations that reflect positive values.
 

 

Talk with children about specific examples of people acting on their values.
 

 

Model positive values and express the importance of having values to live by.

Example: Consistently treating children with respect by demonstrating genuine concern, empathic responses, and active listening skills
 

SOCIAL COMPETENCIES


Encourage children to express themselves using words, rather than just actions, to communicate.

 


Example:
When opportunities arise, have children interact with people that look, act, think, and/or talk in different ways.

Build values by comparison.

Example: Watch an old TV show (many are available on DVD) that had an effect on your social values and talk about its relevance in today’s world.
 

Encourage children to build skills in areas that are of interest to them.

 

Educate children about the importance of respecting different cultures, religions, and ethnicities.

 

Example: Have a library of films and books (both fiction and non-fiction) available to children so they can learn about different cultures.
 

POSITIVE IDENTITY


Encourage children to have positive, inspirational role models.
 

Share what gives your life meaning and discuss the importance of having a sense of purpose.

When children are facing conflict, work with them to think of all possible ways that they could deal with the situation. Talk with them about choices they may want to make on the matter.

Help children to feel good about the choices they make each day by giving them meaningful positive feedback.
 

 Adapted from Pass It On! Ready To Use Handouts for Asset Builders, ©1999 by The Search Institute
 

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