Professional Development

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Four Reasons to Include Youth Choice In OST

Wednesday, 13 October 2021 00:00

Out-of-School Time (OST) professionals know that youth voice and choice are essential for program quality. Suppose you're like many others in the field. In that case, you may find yourself knowing the importance of youth voice and choice and understanding the concept at a basic level, but at the same time are not sure about implementing these opportunities.

Have no fear; NAA is here! Introducing Choose Choices--this new blog series is all about helping you identify and apply youth choice strategies as part of your regular program practice.

First, why do kids need the opportunity to make decisions and choices during OST? Here are four fundamental reasons why.


  1. Show young people that adults trust and value their thinking ability develops youth self-confidence and builds positive developmental relationships.
  2. Ask kids to practice thoughtful decision-making by creating situations in which they think about decision-making as a process.
  3. Empower young people by inviting them to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions. Bonus: This eliminates power struggles.
  4. Provide opportunities for young people to make meaning by having success or making mistakes and learning from consequences within a safe environment.

Next up, we'll explore why some OST professionals shy away from implementing youth choice even when they know how important it is for young people.

Contributed by Heidi Ham, vice president of programs and strategy, National AfterSchool Association