Most parents recognize the importance of time management, strong communication, good listening and other study skills, but what about leadership? “Your child doesn’t have to aspire to be the next president of the United States to benefit from the lessons of leadership,” says Eileen Huntington, co-founder of Huntington Learning Center. “Activities and programs that instill leadership help teach children about perseverance, conflict resolution, building one’s character, goal setting and more.”
Huntington offers parents these tips to help their child develop leadership skills:
Encourage volunteering for a cause your child cares about. What gets your child excited? Animals? The planet? Helping other kids? Encourage your child to make a difference through volunteering, or try doing service learning as a family. Getting involved is a wonderful way for kids to discover a passion, make friends, and share their experiences and excitement with others.
Give your child opportunities to teach others. Whether it is a sibling or a classmate, children who teach their peers often become more engaged in the subject matter. If your student is a good reader, how about reading to younger siblings and teaching them reading basics? Your child will build a sense of pride in sharing his or her knowledge and helping others learn something new.
Check out extracurricular activities. Your child’s school likely has a plethora of clubs and activities with which your child could get involved. Sports are an obvious way to instill in your child the lessons of hard work, teamwork and determination, but if your child isn’t interested in athletics, don’t overlook things like student council, yearbook, drama club, music, math club, science club or a student ambassador program.
Explore leadership programs and camps. Do you live near a college? Check to see what programs they have for rising middle and high school students. Some colleges offer enrichment, college preparatory or other programs for children and teens designed specifically to build leadership aptitudes. How about experiential or other types of leadership camps in your area? You can check with your child’s teachers, guidance counseling office and school district for suggestions or referrals.
Huntington encourages parents to be creative when it comes to leadership development opportunities for their child. “The key is to empower your child to take on new responsibilities, strive for things he or she wants, take risks, and recognize and build his or her strengths. Doing so will help your child become a more engaged and involved student and citizen.”