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Advice on behaviour management for young people

This article discusses managing behaviour when volunteering in STEM with young people, and taking responsibility for their health and safety.
© STEM Learning

The engagement of young people affects their behaviour. If they are engaged by the activity then there will be fewer, if any, problems with their behaviour.

How to manage behaviour

You can maintain engagement by ensuring you have thought about, and where appropriate, discussed, the following with the school or youth group organiser you will volunteer with:

  • Is your activity suitable for the age group?
  • Does your activity rely on any prior knowledge? Do the young people have this prior knowledge?
  • Is your activity hands on? Or does it have elements of interactivity or participation?
  • Are you using appropriate language for the age group?
  • Can the students complete the activities in the time given?
  • Do the activities last a sensible amount of time for the age group?

By thinking about, and addressing, the above questions you will be able to maintain the engagement of the young people. Maintaining engagement is key to avoiding boredom and the disruptive behaviour that can arise from this.

Responsibility for behaviour

As a volunteer delivering a STEM activity, you are responsible for your own health and safety. The teacher or leader of the group of young people is responsible for the young people’s health, safety and behaviour. You should never be left alone with a group of young people or an individual.

Risk assessment

The teacher or leader will need to do a risk assessment for the activity you are doing. This may be done by speaking to you about the activity or they may ask you to complete a risk assessment form (we looked at risk assessments in the previous course in the ExpertTrack on planning activities).

If they do ask you to do a risk assessment you must ensure the leader or teacher goes through this to ensure it is appropriate and then returns any amendments to you.

Risk assessment requirements and health and safety legislation may vary by region, so please consult with the volunteering programme you are part of.

Protocols to deal with misdemeanour

If there are issues with behaviour when delivering the activity, you should always defer to the leader or teacher for assistance.

They will know the young people and the protocols set up to deal with misbehaviour and so are in the best position to deal with this.

It is very unlikely you will experience any poor behaviour, as the expectations will have been set for behaviour before you start your activity.

As a reminder, we strongly advise you to be part of a formal volunteering programme. For example, if you are in the UK, you should be part of the STEM Ambassadors programme.

© STEM Learning
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Volunteering in the Classroom: Communication Skills for STEM Volunteers

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