Working with Juniors
Just being attentive to what girls are experiencing as they mature is a big help to girls. So, take some time to understand the
likes, needs, and abilities of girls in this grade level. As you listen and learn along with girls, you may find it useful to review the
highlights of their development in the chart below. Of course, each girl is an individual, so these are only guidelines that help you
get to know the girls.
Juniors have a more developed a sense of time; they like to be productive and they move fast. They’ll often ask, “What’s next?” so how can you keep up with them?
- Post a visible agenda and calendar at every Junior troop meeting to help them follow along
- Channel their enthusiasm for action with a kaper chart to divide up troop chores and help them be independent
- Many Juniors WANT to be the person in charge, so set up a way of rotating the responsibility to be a small group or large group leader – it’s a good time to introduce troop government
- Offer physical challenges – with their increased physical strength, they are curious to test their strength and endurance. Be ready to encourage their mental strength and endurance to help them reach their goals. Include time to rest and recharge in the schedule.
- Let them test their independence in safe ways
- Schedule field trips often because Juniors like to get out and explore
- Look for enthusiasm for troop overnights and sleep away camps
They are confident readers and writers so put that to good use. Offer things to read in support of badge work or hand out written instructions for a small group activity. Juniors can reliably document their ideas, questions and reflections.
Develop troop behavior expectations together. With the girls, brainstorm the behaviors that will keep the troop safe and having fun. (i.e. listen to instructions, don’t ignore others, say you’re sorry if you’ve hurt someone, let everyone speak during discussion times, etc). Write these ideas down (if possible, use large paper so everyone can see). When the list feels complete, ask all the girls and adults to agree to follow these rules for all future meetings. Let the girls help remind each other of the group guidelines they’ve agreed to follow.
Disagreements and hurt feelings will come up with Girl Scout Juniors. Promptly use a simple conflict resolution strategy when the girls don’t get along. Try the “I” message method, to help identify the feelings involved. For example, help the first girl to say, “When you interrupted me, I felt angry because I wanted to share my idea.” And then the second girl can address what happened, i.e., “I thought you were done talking. I was excited to share my idea, too.” Help the girls to apologize as appropriate and help them understand each other’s perspective. Many hurt feelings happen because of simple miscommunication and can be resolved quickly and effectively when they’re addressed right away.