February is Youth Leadership Month, and now is the perfect time for emerging leaders to start thinking about ways to build important 21st-century skills for their future. Whether your child is thinking of their next semester of classes or planning life after school, it’s never too early to start seeking out leadership opportunities and experience.
As they take the next steps in their leadership journey, encourage them to think about what qualities they would like to build as a leader. Are they hoping to improve their confidence and willingness to take calculated risks? Do they want to be supportive by practicing empathy, patience and active listening? How about persisting in the face of challenges and helping their team solve problems? A strong leader has many of these characteristics. To help your middle or high school student grow these leadership skills and more, we’ve put together a list of ideas to consider together.
Volunteer in Your Community
Finding a local organization or project that interests you not only makes it easier to complete rewarding work as you collaborate with other enthusiastic individuals, but it also can help you exercise a willingness to help others — an important quality of a compassionate, supportive leader. When you serve others, you begin to understand what it means to lead. A good leader always tries to support and inspire their team.
Tutor Your Friends in Your Best Subject
Even if your schedule is already jam-packed, you still can strive to be a leader in your daily activities — like spending time with friends! If you know someone struggling with a subject or topic that you understand well, consider helping them with this subject the next time you hang out. When you are able to teach someone else, you practice patience, clear communication and problem solving. Strong leaders understand how to share their knowledge and celebrate the successes of others.
Join a School Club or Team
Whether you’re running for student council or trying out for your favorite school sports team, being part of an organized school group or club comes with many valuable lessons. Working well with others, making decisions and representing your peers are all skills you will practice in these structured groups. Not to mention, you’ll most likely work with leaders in your school or community and get out of your comfort zone! Leaders often are tasked with organizing a team and implementing a plan that leads everyone toward a specific goal.
Become a Camp Invention Leader-In-Training or Leadership Intern
For a summer leadership experience like no other, consider getting involved with the National Inventors Hall of Fame® by becoming a Leader-In-Training (LIT) or Leadership Intern (LI) with Camp Invention®. The LIT program is an exciting opportunity for future leaders in grades 7-9 to guide campers in grades K-6 through creative, high-energy STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) challenges. For high school (grades 10-12) and college students, the LI program is a great way to showcase leadership experience on your resume. LIs work closely with Instructors who lead the Camp Invention program, helping campers to build STEM skills and become creative thinkers and persistent problem solvers.
LITs and LIs also have the chance to learn from impactful role models — our National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees — while inspiring campers themselves. In these roles, you will learn to demonstrate exceptional responsibility and build confidence in your own skills while influencing the young leaders who will rise up after you.