Young people's guidance for session leaders.

Rather than providing a set of dos and don’ts, this section starts with young people’s advice for Learning teams and session leaders.

Young woman mid jump wearing animal shoes

Photographs reproduced by kind permission of Great Place Lakes and Dales.

Young people are excited to:

  • Work with and alongside experts
  • Ask questions that are important to them
  • Listen but also have their voices heard
  • Create a response to what they see, hear, feel, touch, even taste, and learn
  • See their work displayed or making an impact in the wider community
  • Work with people of all ages for the good of their community. Some even want to work alongside (or competitively with) parents/carers
  • Take something away from their day; a small memento or something they have made to share with others.
display of polaroids at a museum

Our advice to session leaders

  • Share your enthusiasm, it is infectious.
  • Be encouraging. Praise effort not just results. Give positive feedback.
  • Encourage young people to think for themselves. Question their questions and answers. Engage with them as experts in their own lives.
  • Provide opportunities for interaction and discovery. Young people want immersive, interactive experiences.
Engaging expert talking to young people
children enjoying themselves
  • Involve everyone. Learning outside the classroom provides a different setting for young people to shine, particularly those who might not always shine inside the classroom.
  • Young people don’t want to be talked at. Make it a conversation. Teachers are now advised to talk for no more than a minute at time before giving students something to engage with actively.
  • Young people don’t want to be told off! This comes down to clear communication. If young people can’t touch an object, that’s fine, just tell them. Set expectations prior to the activity. Provide guidance on what is expected in terms of behaviour and practical issues, for example, how to handle objects.
  • Show young people how to do things. Young people are familiar with technology and if they are shown how to do something, clearly, twice, they generally can do it. Showing and getting them to teach each other is a great way to engage them in learning.
  • Allow young people to play. Playing with a purpose helps them learn how things work. If using this technique, explain that they will then be asked to teach other young people what they have learned. Let them become the experts.
Young girl making a paper mache puppet
Mentor encouraging workshop participant
  • Working with industry experts and other adults is a fantastic opportunity for young people to challenge their own and others’ perceptions. Teachers often report being hugely impressed with young people who have surprised them when given the opportunity to work in a different context.
  • Working with young people provides experts with guidance for the tone and type of activity they find fascinating.
  • Let go of the idea of the perfect result. The process is just as important. Allowing students ownership and agency over their own work encourages greater creativity and reaps huge rewards for all.

And finally...

Working with young people of all ages means pitching your delivery to the appropriate level. You don’t have to talk down to students or, necessarily, avoid jargon (but do explain it). Introduce new ideas clearly. Young people will remember things that challenge what they think they know. They enjoy having insider knowledge. This will allow them to become experts.

Remember what seems normal to you may be very alien to others not working in your field. This applies to adults but particularly to young people. If students have a clear context, they can then ask relevant questions and guide their own learning.

With very young children, consider engaging them through their experiences and immediate environment (what can they see, touch, smell, hear etc). Expand from this point. Children enjoy active learning: setting their own goals, planning, exploring, reviewing what they have learned. They will do this if they are confident and secure in their environment and clear about expectations.