Thursday, December 17, 2009

HighScope Model: Supportive Environment

Here at the CBC we strive to create and maintain a supportive environment in the shop, a place where participants can express themselves, learn, and grow. A supportive environment makes up the second level of the HighScope Youth Quality Program Assessment model, after a safe environment.

HighScope identifies six ways that staff and volunteers can encourage a supportive environment: staff encourage youth-centered approaches to reframe conflict; staff support youth with encouragement; staff support youth in building new skills; activities support active engagement; session flow is planned, presented, and paced for youth; and staff provides a welcoming atmosphere.

Here are a few ways we brainstormed to help encourage a supportive environment --
  1. Greet participants by name as they enter the shop
  2. Ask them what they prefer to work on, allow them flexibility
  3. Don't do the work for them -- help them when they need it. Allow participants to go try new things, but be on the lookout for frustration.
  4. Give a heads-up in advance of clean-up time (usually 4:45)
  5. When conflict arises, help to diffuse it in constructive ways (it's always ok to take a break -- more about that in a later post...)
  6. Diffuse inappropriate or harmful language or behavior when you first see it-- it's not ok to put another participant down, and they need to know the staff and volunteers will not stand for it
As a volunteer, how else might you help encourage a supportive environment?

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