From entertainment to achievement: Club activities at Shelterwood

Shelterwood students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of clubs, from soccer and photography to rock climbing and yoga and everything in between. At Shelterwood, every club is designed to help students set a goal and work to reach it. “The whole purpose of our clubs is to show students that they are capable of accomplishing something they did not think was possible. Our clubs are all about committing to a process and sticking to it,” says Kyle Anderson, Performing Arts Coordinator, who coordinates the student clubs at Shelterwood.

Most young people are not encouraged to stick with something for the long haul, and our culture encourages instant gratification, he says. “So much of our culture in America focuses on entertainment and we keep ourselves busy with passive entertainment activities,” Kyle says, including TV, smartphones, the Internet and more.

To combat that quick-fix entertainment culture, Kyle says, every Shelterwood club is designed around a specific goal. “Most high schools have clubs where students get together to do something they enjoy, but Shelterwood clubs take things a step further. Our clubs are focused on what we want to accomplish at the end of the process. These clubs are an opportunity for our students to say, ‘I can do this,’ and then move forward and be really proud of what they have done,” Kyle explains. This sense of accomplishment can be life-changing for struggling teens.

DSC 3257 1024x683 From entertainment to achievement: Club activities at Shelterwood

This spring, clubs included rock climbing, arts and crafts, weight lifting, soccer, photography, camping and survival, wrestling, yoga and even one designed around escape rooms. The clubs take place Tuesday and Thursday evenings and are run by young adult Mentors. Students began the club session by identifying their goals and committing to the process.

“For example, the photography club set a goal of framing and displaying their favorite images and setting up an art show on the Shelterwood campus,” Kyle shares. Students in the rock climbing club had binders where they tracked their progress in completing different routes and noticed their improvement over time.” Struggling teens see that they can set goals and do more than they initially imagined.

Students have different expectations in the clubs depending on what stage they are at in their Shelterwood journey. When students first arrive at Shelterwood, the expectation is to choose a club and set a goal. “As they move through the program, we expect them to set the goal, show effort to accomplish it and stay mentally engaged,” Kyle says. “During the upper stages of the program, we look to students to be positive leaders, positive peer influencers and to provide their encouragement to other students.”

Furthermore, the club activities build students’ self-confidence and help them practice recreation in a way that is healthy and fun. “The students get to experience activities that are healthy alternatives to some of the dangerous activities they may have been trying before Shelterwood, and they get a taste of an enjoyable, active way to have fun.” Clubs are part of a greater commitment to fun, engaging campus life at Shelterwood.

Not every club reaches their goal, Kyle says, and that offers an opportunity to practice dealing with disappointment and practice problem-solving. “If the goal doesn’t happen, we talk about it. We process why it did not work. This happens in life sometimes — so when we don’t reach our goals, how do we move forward?”

Other clubs, however, not only reach their goals, but surpass them and set even bigger goals. Kyle points to the escape room club, for example. “Originally, their goal was to prepare for their field trip to an escape room in Kansas City with some team-building activities,” he recalls. “Yet it grew so much with students stepping up and spearheading their efforts and the club actually designed and built their own escape room for the Shelterwood staff! Their perception of themselves changed and they understood how they could influence their peers in a positive way, and how to use their voice in a meaningful way.”

“We live in such an individualistic society, but to thrive as an adult, we have to learn how to work together,” Kyle says. “Through our clubs, students are learning commitment to a process, how to receive feedback, how to move forward with confidence and how to work together towards a goal. The skills the students learn through clubs are skills they can take with them into their future. We are really changing perspectives in these kids.”

Back to School Prep

Being proactive now will help your student feel greater confidence when school starts soon!

263794 10150293573006772 136220011771 7182328 6765550 n 300x200 Back to School PrepFor most of the country, summer is a time of freedom from school for teens. This is a hold-over from a time when most families lived in rural areas where kids were needed to help on the family farm during the warm months of the year.

Many teens use the summer months now to work, travel with family, or participate in sports. In the midst of summer fun, some habits can be formed that don’t translate well to the school year! Here are some tips to help your teen get back into “school shape”:

1. Discipline in sleep habits: My own teen daughter likes to stay up late…and sleep in late. This is a habit I’ll let go until two weeks before school starts. Getting back into the rhythms of a school schedule early will help the first couple of weeks of school be more productive!

2. Read: Reading is perhaps one of the most well rounded academic activities someone can do. If your student hasn’t been engaged in school or learning activities during the summer, encouraging them to read a book or two before the beginning of school will help get their mind back on the track of concentrating on something for more than a minute or two. Take them to the library or bookstore and let them pick out books they are interested in, not just classics, as it will stoke their interest.

3. Transition prep: Is your student stepping into their first year of high school? Maybe entering into a new school altogether? Begin to work right now with them to make sure they are prepped before the first day. Talking with school counselor, teachers or even visiting the school to walk through are all steps you can take when the school is closed for class but staff is in doing work.

4. Goal setting: Take your teen out for ice-cream, and talk about goals for the coming year. Do they want to make the honor roll? Maybe participate in an extra-curricular activity? Let your student guide the conversation, but help them to envision how they can be successful in school. Research shows that the student’s expectation of how well they will do in a given class has a greater affect than almost anything else on how they will actually perform.

Goal Setting

images 37 Goal SettingNothing makes my wife and I fight (or laugh) more than when we are forced to ask for directions. Many good comedies have been based on this premise of having a goal and then struggling to attain it. While working with your child to establish a destination or a goal might feel like a comedy of errors at times, it is critical to their development as students and adults.

Chad Smith, the Academic Dean of Shelterwood Academy, has identified four fantastic tips for heading in the right direction when it comes to goal setting.

Set Goals Early

While goal setting might feel intimidating and even unnecessary for young children, learning how to break down a task into bite-sized steps is a critical life skill. As parents, we often get distracted with adult-type goals. Even when our kids are young, we are tempted to establish our own goals for their lives, large cumbersome goals that overwhelm them, are not useful and our kids will often rebel against these directives. Instead, start talking to them about their interests and help them break down their goals in life into smaller steps. Enabling them to experience success early and often will create the motivation necessary to continue setting goals later in life with much more difficult tasks. It will also help them learn to navigate the ups and downs of life they will inevitably experience when trying to attain their desires.

Guide, Don’t Dictate

To have ultimate buy-in from your student, goals need to come from them. The good (and maybe sometimes difficult) part of this is that often they will develop goals based on values they have caught from their parents/guardians. If you have modeled hard work, integrity, education, life-long learning and goal setting, your student will have that as a basis from which to build a vision for his or her own future. Parents that speak often about the benefits of working hard, and focusing on education then have a platform to suggest goals that revolve around achievement in those areas. You may be surprised to find your student sets much tougher goals for himself or herself than you might set for him or her.

Introduce Mentors

Something that can help students gain a vision for their future and a desire to set goals, can be introducing them to people that have accomplished goals themselves. If your child wants to be a doctor when they grow up, set up a meeting with a successful doctor. Perhaps your student wants to be an artist; put her in contact with a successful graphic designer. Maybe your child is questioning whether advanced education is right for them. If so, get together with someone who may have attended college later in life because he or she didn’t realize the importance of education until they had to work without one. Real life contact with people who have walked down the path can be invaluable in giving kids a vision for their own future.

Break Through the Brick Wall

images 36 Goal SettingIf your student refuses to set goals or think about the future, you might feel like banging your head against a brick wall! Kids that don’t want to think about the future are often labeled as “lazy” or even “rebellious,” but in fact, may just feel insecure or anxious. When a student is dealing with doubt about their own abilities, it will often seem as though they just don’t care. Parents can help kids in this position by recognizing relative success. If a student has struggled turning in homework, setting a goal of successfully turning in all work for a week can set up an achievable bar for initial success. This in turn will build confidence, and foster their desire for more success. Eventually the internal narrative playing their mind may begin saying, “Hey, I can actually do this!” At this point, helping them think about bigger goals becomes much more manageable.

Parents want the best for their kids. Helping them set up their future for success through goal setting can be one of the greatest gifts that parents can give!