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5 Tips for College Students Working with Tweens and Teens

After some reflection on four years of volunteering, interning, working with, and teaching youth, here are the five biggest takeaways I came up with — and I want to share them with you!

  1. You’re not that much older than them — use that as a strength, not a weakness.
  2. Ask them for feedback. Kids are given so few opportunities to craft their own experiences. Let this be one experience in which they have agency.
  3. It’s not your kids’ jobs to educate you about their identities. Maybe you are working with a teen who is queer or trans or indigenous or Jewish and you’ve never met someone else with that identity. That’s ok, but you have to do your research. Look online, talk to your friends and professors, and don’t perpetuate misconceptions that are avoidable.
  4. It’s good to keep kids on track, but never sacrifice bonding and community for another minute filmed or paragraph written.
  5. BE VULNERABLE. If you want your kids to be honest and open about their stories, they deserve to have you set an example.

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(Gleaned from experiences at the Tompkins County Public Library, Summer Discovery, and most of all Writopia Lab — thank you to everyone involved)