A Prediction for Youth Development

September 30, 2013

I have talked about the early childhood movement in the past. The success of this movement was a result of practitioners working with researchers to take early brain development science and make a compelling business case. This helped the public think of child care as something other than warehousing children or “babysitting.” It was a movement that revolutionized early childhood.

As a result, I predict that we will see a second movement — this time in youth development — within the next decade.

Let me suggest a trifecta, if you will:

1.) The growth of youths’ emerging critical thinking, problem solving, reflective skills, communication, and creativity — when supported by active, participatory learning — makes the case for a recalibration and realignment of a comprehensive educational/developmental system for young people. Home, school, and out-of-school programming (camps) must come together to provide a system unequaled by any other when done well.

2.) Brain-based learning — added to what we know about the importance of outdoor experiences on physical, social, and mental health, and today's alarming decline and limited access to the natural world — makes it clear that access to authentic outdoor experiences must be reintroduced and introduced to our families.

3.) Replacing play, the rite of childhood, with the ritual of resume building alone is causing serious fissures in the healthy development of children. Play allows young people to practice “how” to survive and thrive in a community. Play is a process of experimenting and refining important life lessons — a form of self-regulation — that we must allow children to have.

I predict these three ideas will become critical to youth development conversations within the next decade. Will we champion such a movement?

What will you do? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.