Tips & Tricks

Program Success Stories

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Overall Program
Communication 
Creative Art Activities 
Leisure Activities
Physical Activities 
Nutrition Activities
Health & Wellness Activities  
Transition Activities 

Overall Program Tips & Tricks

  1. To ensure safety and encourage participation, take the time to prepare detailed rules and game objectives and make sure all participants understand what is expected.
  2. When explaining a new activity, limit distractions including noise, keep instructions short, use clear/plain language and provide demonstrations.
  3. Look for signs of discomfort or confusion so you can address individual participant needs and allow all to feel comfortable and successful in completing the activity.
  4. Work to reduce wait times for activities done individually to ease any anxiety caused by social comparison.
  5. During activities do not single out participants for their actions (negatively) and make sure that you praise all participants.
  6. Choose small group activities more often to allow more opportunities for active participation.
  7. Plan the necessary modifications for any activity to ensure it is possible for participants of all ability levels to take part in a way that makes them feel supported and safe.
  8. Remember that everyone is an individual and we all have different comfort levels. Consider the motto “Challenge by choice,” which offers participants the ability to decide the level of participation.
  9. When participants are hesitant about trying something new, emphasize the value of trying something not in their comfort zone and provide positive support during their first attempts.
  10. Reduce the emphasis on winning. For example, do not keep score.
  11. Games like musical chairs and dodgeball can be fun, but are competitive. Choose games that foster friendship and build self-esteem more often.
  12. Playing tag in a room that is too small is a safety issue or doing a sitting game in a large room is an invitation for distractions. Make sure you have the right space for your activity.

Plan Your Program

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Communication Tips & Tricks

  1. Encourage participants to ask questions about activities if they need clarification.
  2. Ask for participant input on how to modify games and ensure inclusivity.
  3. Provide opportunities for participants to take ownership of activities to suggest new activities for the group.
  4. Ask for feedback about activities and conduct debriefs. Discuss with participants: What worked? What didn’t? How did they work together? What did you learn about yourself? About others?
  5. Offer a positive example.
  6. Participate in the activity and monitor your group closely, showing that you are taking an interest.
  7. Allow older participants to take on leadership roles (referee, team captain) and model and encourage positive participation and feedback.
  8. Get to know your participants, their parents and other staff. Create a portfolio of pre-activity icebreakers and conversation starters to foster positive relationships before getting into the actual activities. This will build relationships.
  9. Reward cooperative and polite behaviour and deal with conflicts and negative behavioural demonstrations in positive ways as they arise.
  10. Provide short opportunities to problem-solve or challenge and work with your group to reach a solution as a team or small group. Examples: Have a short “team time-out” to discuss defensive tactics for improving defensive play or have a discussion on how best to include everyone.

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Creative Art Activities Tips & Tricks

  1. Base creative art activities around themes. This can be helpful in helping children understand and get interested in the program theme. It is also a great way to decorate a space to support a theme.
  2. Maintain an inventory list of art supplies and materials. A simple list that includes all the materials and supplies currently available to you can make planning a creative art activity very simple. If there are things that you do not have that are needed, such as egg cartons or cans, you can ask children to bring in their own.
  3. Work in smaller groups. Dividing the space into stations or a large group into smaller groups can make more effective use of time. This will also allow for less interruption or distraction for children participating in the activities.
  4. Create a sample. Children will appreciate seeing an example of a completed project. This will make the goal easier to understand. Leaders will still need to break down the process step by step for the activity.
  5. Do not use anything permanent. Parents will likely become upset if their child’s clothing or skin is stained with permanent maker. Make sure that all materials are safe for children and they are non-permanent. If protective gear is available such as smocks or used shirts they should be worn by the children during the creative art activity.

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Leisure Activity Tips & Tricks

  1. Remind children of rules and regulations prior to leisure activities. At times, children may push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. A simple reminder of the rules and regulations will be useful before commencing leisure activities.
  2. Play calming music in the background. Having calm music playing in the background will naturally soothe children and encourage them to remain relaxed during this time. It can also help reduce the volume of chat noise in the space, since some children may choose quiet activities such as reading or drawing.
  3. Space should offer flexibility. Try to do the leisure activities in a space that offers a variety of options such as table and chairs, couches, floor space and mats. This will encourage children to find their own space and become comfortable in their environment during leisure activities.
  4. Have children clean up their activity. It is important that children are aware that although they are participating in free play they are still responsible for their games and should always clean up an activity once they are finished. Encourage parents to stay and participate if they are interested.
  5. This is a good time to develop relationships with parents. Building these types of relationships can lead to better communication when regarding the program or any specific issues with a child.

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Physical Activity Tips & Tricks

  1. Remain fair at all times. As a leader you are always being observed by the children, so it is important to remain consistent. If the children feel as if you are not fair towards the entire group they will begin to lose respect for you, which can lead to behavioural issues and distractions.
  2. Group children as equally as possible so as to not disadvantage a team. Make sure that teams are equal amongst ages, abilities and gender. Have leaders divide groups to ensure children don't feel left out or discriminated against.
  3. Set realistic expectations for individual children and praise with positive reinforcement.Younger children will not physically be able to match an older child’s ability. However each child should be encouraged to strive for individual achievements. A leader should offer individual positive feedback to children to maintain motivation and strive.
  4. Allow children the choice to participate. If a child does not want to participate, remember that there are other ways to engage them such as acting as an assistant coach or referee.
  5. Give children opportunity to lead an activity. Doing this will nurture a sense of leadership and accomplishment in the child. Other children will enjoy learning from their peer.
  6. Children will learn by doing an activity and participating in demonstrations. School age children can understand visual information more thoroughly than verbal information. Have a couple of practice runs before the real game or try a few drills.
  7. Engage children in every point of an activity. This will prevent standing around time that can lead to potential distractions or misbehaviours. Create a cheer squad or perhaps have some children prep the follow up activity.
  8. Remember to end an activity at its peak. Ending an activity at the highest amusement point will ensure that children do not lose interest and that this activity will be welcomed again in the future.

Activity Ideas 

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Nutrition Activity Tips & Tricks

  1. Take a vote as to what children would like to learn about. Set up a board that lists a variety of topics and ask children to mark next to the ones that they are interested in.
  2. Create a group challenge. Divide children into groups and challenge them, for example, to eat the most fruit or create no-smoking posters.
  3. Set the example. Children will not take leaders seriously if they are not also engaging in the healthy choices. Make sure that leaders follow their own advice and do things such as bringing healthy snacks to the program.
  4. Involve parents. Have resources accessible to parents regarding topics covered during these activities or hold a parent night were parents can learn about what the children are doing during program.
  5. Cover a variety of topics - Stress management, nutrition, playground safety, fire safety, bullying, food preparation are just some examples that could be covered during nutrition activities.
  6. Have group discussions - Leading group discussions is a great way to ensure that children understand the information shared during the activities. This will also allow children the opportunity to share their experiences and thoughts to the larger group.

Snack Ideas

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Health & Wellness Activity Tips &Tricks

  1. Take a vote as to what children would like to learn about. Set up a board that lists a variety of topics and ask children to mark next to the ones that they are interested in.
  2. Create a group challenge. Divide children into groups and challenge them nutrition-related activities. Find positive ways the group can build a sense of belonging among children. Observe the group dynamic: Identify and eliminate barriers to participation.
  3. Set the example - Children will not take leaders seriously if they are not also engaging in the healthy choices. Make sure that leaders follow their own advice and do things such as modelling skills for positive relationships, including listening with interest, expressing feelings and working together to solve conflicts.
  4. Involve parents - Have resources accessible to parents regarding topics covered during these activities or hold a parent night were parents can learn about what the children are doing during program. Share positive feedback about a child's development and invite parents to share helpful information when a child seems to need extra support.
  5. Cover a variety of topics - Stress management, nutrition, playground safety, fire safety, anti-bullying, food preparation are just some examples that could be covered during health and wellness activities.
  6. Have group discussions - Leading group discussions is a great way to ensure that children understand the information shared during the activities. This will also allow children the opportunity to share their experiences and thoughts to the larger group.

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Transition Activity Tips & Tricks

  1. Post the daily program plan including transition activities. Younger children will be able to respond better to the transitions if they have visual reminder. Having the daily schedule posted also provides leaders with a schedule to refer to when starting a transition.
  2. Give children reminders leading up to a transition. Some children may be apprehensive or resistant to change, so prepae them in advance to give them, as well as leaders, the opportunity to address these feelings. For example say, “In five minutes we’ll be going to the gym to play soccer. Please start to wrap up what you are doing and please tidy up your area.”
  3. Engage children during this time. This will keep children included and engaged during times of transitions and reduce the possibility of misbehaviour or distractions. During the start of the day, as children are coming into program, leaders can play a simple circle game which children can join as they arrive.
  4. Use positive reinforcement during transitions. Children will respond better to positive reinforcement and encouragement than negative feedback. Using these techniques will create a better line of communication between leaders and children and demonstrate that leaders are caring. For example, do not say “Jimmy you’re not in line,” say. “Jimmy please join the others in line.”
  5. If you have a large group of participants, divide them into smaller groups to transition at different times. Dividing into smaller groups will make supervising the children during transition easier for leaders as well as allow more flexibility should there be an incident with a child.
  6. Use transition times as an opportunity to engage older children in leadership roles. For the older children, this will support their social, emotional and cognitive development by providing a leadership opportunity. Younger children will be able to connect with their older peers.
  7. Be flexible with the times for transitions.Some days, the transitions may go smoothly and on other days you may need a bit more time due to an incident or preparing an activity. Be prepared with an extra song or game to keep children occupied.

 

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