One of the greatest challenges in leading a troop is effectively managing the behavior of the girls. This article for troop leaders discusses the typical behaviors of Girl Scout Juniors (grades 4-5).
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Watch Junior Group Dynamics.
Energy Levels and Sociability
Girls at the Junior age level are experiencing a lot of activity, intellectual growth, new friendships, deepening relationships, and discoveries about the world and the inner self. While family is still very important to these girls, their friends and interests become increasingly important.
Juniors love to act in plays, create music, and dance. Your junior girls might like to try playwriting, playing an instrument, or choreographing a dance. Girls this age are very social and enjoy doing things in groups, so allow girls to team up in small or large groups for art projects, performances, and activities.
Fine Motor Skills
Juniors have strong fine and gross motor skills and coordination. This means you can engage girls in moving their minds and their bodies. Encourage girls to express themselves through the writing, choreography, and other types of outlets.
Junior girls are beginning to think critically. They are able to understand that people can have varying perspectives, feelings, and attitudes. Try asking girls to explain why they made a decision, share their visions of their roles in the future, and challenge their own and others’ perspective.
Decisions and Opinions
Girls this age want to make decisions and express their opinions. Whenever possible, encourage girls to make decisions and express their opinions in guided discussions and reflection activities. Try having the girls set rules for listening to others opinions and offering assistance in decision-making. Juniors are concerned about equality and fairness, so don’t shy away from discussing why rules are in place.
Your troop will be aware of expectations but sensitive to judgment from others. It’s okay to have expectations, but the expectation should not be perfection. Share your own mistakes and what you’ve learned from them. Be sure to create an environment where the girls could be comfortable sharing their mistakes when they want to.
Self-Esteem, Self-Confidence, and Physical Changes
Juniors might be starting puberty—physical development, skin changes, and weight changes. It’s important to be sensitive to girls changing bodies, possible discomfort over these changes, and their desire for more information. Create an environment that acknowledges and celebrates this transition as healthy and normal for girls.
Studies show by about age 11, many girls start to lose self-esteem and self-confidence. You may notice girls in your troop becoming more cautious, quieter, or less likely to say what’s on her mind. As their leader, you play an important role in helping girls stay confident. Be sure to provide an atmosphere where they feel safe to speak their mind and take risks.
Every girl wants to be viewed as unique. Girls mature at different rates. Consider each girl as a unique individual with her own talents, gifts, personality, and intellectual strengths. Expect a wide biological, social, and emotional difference amongst the girls in your Junior troop.
Juniors are able to participate in all steps of planning activities and carrying out tasks. Give girls plenty of opportunities to take the lead and help plan—otherwise, girls at this age tend to lose interest fast.
For more on letting your Junior troop grow in their leadership abilities, see our article, Letting Girls Take the Lead.
Summary of Resources
- Letting Girls Take the Lead – An article for troop leaders that outlines how to incorporate girl-led into their troop.