Let leaders emerge

Leadership, is such a big word. The kids that come to my workshops have all heard of it and to them, it’s kind of a big deal.

Sometime ago, I had a boy in one of my holiday workshop who was very keen to let me know what he liked and what he did not. He had his own ideas about what he wanted to make and what he wanted to do. In my all-day holiday workshop that is not really a problem, if I can balance one child’s needs with the rest of the class. Unfortunately, this little boy got very upset when his artwork did not go the way he wanted. That was when he decided to very vocally give up, got cross and distracted others. My usual tricks to get him back on track were not working.

Now this little boy was very bright, articulate and very enthusiastic. He was very proud and doing a good job was important to him. While his behaviour was not acceptable I needed to engage him by targeting what was important to him. So, I asked him a question: “Are you being a leader right now?” He looked at me and the penny appeared to have dropped. I also gave him some leadership jobs to do for the class and his behaviour started to calm down.

Leadership is not a position, it is part of how our children choose to act. Not everyone can get a formal position of leadership but everyone can choose to act like a leader.

Most kids know what leadership is, thanks to wonderful teachers and parents. If they don’t its worth having a conversation and generating your own list. A handy question I ask students in my work at schools is “Who do you see being a leader in your school?” and then I ask them to identify the behaviours and things they do.

This list allows the kids to measure themselves against the leadership qualities they have identified. When they are not acting in line with the list, teachers can refer to it. Kids can’t argue with it cause they made the list.

As a teacher or a parent, how do you encourage and develop leadership skills?

Let them choose – give kids the responsibility or say in how something is going to happen.

Give them a job that is theirs – could you delegate one of your jobs to your kids?

Recognise when you see them being a leader – they may have let someone have a turn before them on the playground or shown someone how to do something. The behaviour we notice is the behaviour that is continued.

King or Queen for the day Let your child take the lead as king or queen for the day ask them to nominate the strength they will use you to care for and lead their kingdom.

Engaging with strengths through play creates a safe and creative environment to explore their strengths and have fun together. Which of your strengths will your kingdom benefit from?

Upcoming Workshops April school holidays are just around the corner. We have our popular A Very Arty Day and a new Teen Hub for girls over 11. Our holiday workshops are filling up at the Artspace. Our next Parent Children workshop is Mistake Me. You and your child will explore how we can make something great from a mistake.

8th April, 2 -4 at Loftus Community Centre, Leederville

Click here for more information and to book