Early childhood is a time of much growth and development. Families and educators tend to focus on boosting physical and academic skills to prepare children for their journey into the world. There is rarely a block on the lesson plan for leadership skills practice. The good news is, leadership skills can be embedded into all sorts of activities. Be sure to keep in mind children’s unique developmental needs as you adopt some of these ideas into your work with children.

  • Encourage children to make choices. Point out the choices children make and the outcomes (both positive and negative) of those decisions. Talk about how you make decisions. Use words like decide and decision
  • Teach children how to make plans. Hold simple conversations with small groups of children about their plans for outdoor play later in the day. Ask if there are any materials the children think they might need to enact their plans. Review how plans came together with the children. It’s okay if the plans don’t come to fruition, or if they change. That happens in life all the time! Talk about it.
  • Create roles for children to step into that require leadership skills. There could be a clean-up inspector, who makes sure toys and dining tables are cleaned up properly. You could ask a child who has been with the program for a while to act as a peer mentor for a new child. Let children take part in orienting new children to the learning environment.
  • Allow children to solve problems. You may need to assist children with this task but resist the urge to solve the problem for them. Help children see options for addressing conflicts and problems that arise.
  • Read books that contain characters who display leadership skills. Be sure to have meaningful conversations about how the character acted and reacted in different situations. If you see a child displaying a leadership quality similar to ones in the literature, recognize the child and the action and add, “…just like the character in the book we read the other day.” You might also say, “What do you think X from our book this week would do in this situation?”
  • Encourage children to talk to one another. Give them sample language to use to express their wants and needs to others.
  • Recognize effort and initiative. Things won’t turn out perfectly, they are kids. But let children know you notice the efforts they took. This will send a powerful message about hard work, taking risks, and doing your very best.
  • Play cooperative games that require children to work together to accomplish tasks. Small group work can have the same impact and will allow you to work with individual children better than trying to manage the whole group.

How do you instill leadership skills in the children in your care?  Tell us on Facebook.

For the main article Exploring LeadershipCLICK HERE

For the article Important Leadership SkillsCLICK HERE

For the article Leadership StylesCLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Building Leadership among Team MembersCLICK HERE