Monday, March 31, 2014

Nutrition Education—Cooking with Kids

Have you tried a cooking club with the youth in your program?  If not, you might want to give it a try.  The youth are engaged (at every age level) and love having the opportunity to measure and mix, and of course EAT!  Here are several different ways you can get started.

Harvest of the Month:  This program is absolutely free.  It highlights a fruit or vegetable each month (one that is being harvested), offers a recipe for a taste test and a newsletter in either English or Spanish for you to send home.  The recipes are easy to make and if you want, youth can give parents a “taste test” which will further encourage the menu at home to include the fruit or vegetable.  You can access their materials at:  

My Plate:  This federal program encourages youth to understand portions, the variety of foods that should be eaten each day, and offers simple recipes as well.  My Plate also has a number of other resources that you can access to support your program.  You can access their materials at: 

Unless you have access to a kitchen with a range and oven, you can often feel like cooking is beyond what you can do.  Remember that there are a number of recipes that you can make that require little or no cooking—and when cooking is required you could get by with an electric skillet.  When looking for recipes type no cook recipes for youth in the search bar and you will find a number of websites at your fingertips.

Share pictures of your young chefs with us by sending them to  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Physical Activity—Virtual Vacations

The weather outside is far from frightful in California at least.  We have sun and cool breezes and it feels like spring.  So for those of you who live somewhere else, consider taking a virtual vacation here in California, and for those of you in California, consider taking a virtual vacation to some other point of interest.  There are many wonderful things for youth to explore and learn from in the world of virtual vacations, and if we think about it, we can include physical activity to make these vacations ‘happen’. 
So here’s how it can work. 
  1. Determine the place that you want the youth to visit. 
  2. Chart the number of miles between your location and the place you want them to visit.
  3. Determine how many miles a day you would have to travel to arrive in approximately 10 days.
  4. Use a pedometer with one youth per day to measure steps (translate into miles) and then multiply by the number of youth in your program to chart the miles.  If it looks like you won’t make your goal, invite others (including parents to help you).
  5. Plan ten travel points of interest, one for each of the days it would take you to walk to the destination, and have youth share those experiences (remember you can always use a video to help them experience the location or event).
  6. Plan a culminating event to celebrate your arrival at your destination that will incorporate the highlights of the location as well as the places you’ve visited along the way.

To encourage writing, have youth record in a journal each day’s activities. 
Pay attention to the details, but you can have a wonderful time and if youth can access the internet, the sky is the limit. 
Take pictures of your “travels” and share them with us at  We’d love to highlight them on Student Chatter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Understanding STEM as an Integrated System

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  This acronym wasn’t simply chosen because it makes it easier and quicker to talk about these subjects.  It wasn’t chosen simply because there seems to be a natural connection between science and plants (including the stems).  It wasn’t chosen so you could add the arts and call it STEAM.  The acronym speaks to what we want to do in STEM education which is to integrate these four areas into a cohesive whole. 
Here are some of the reasons that an integrated approach to STEM education works:
“The number of jobs requiring proficiency in the STEM field is projected to grow almost twice as much as non-STEM occupations between 2008 and 2018.  Computing and engineering represent a majority of these STEM jobs.”  Afterschool Alliance
Integrated STEM education programs apply equal attention to the standards and objectives of two or more of the STEM fields – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

In nearly every model of effective STEM integration, the goal and intent is to provide students with the opportunity to construct new knowledge and problem-solving skills through the process of designing artifacts (Fortus, Krajcikb, Dershimerb, Marx, & Mamlok-Naamand, 2005).

[Learning is accomplished] through a series of open-ended, hands-on activities related to a thematic topic that addresses important concepts related to STEM disciplines (Satchwell & Loepp, 2002).

In the afterschool environment we are well-positioned to implement this integrated approach through project-based learning.  We have been engaging youth in these types of projects for years.  Putting a STEM theme in place in these projects can make all the difference in the world.

For more information about project-based learning check out the Consult 4 Kids website at and starting with the “Begin The Journey” icon in the upper right-hand corner.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Habits of the Mind: Questioning and Posing Problems

Last month, a blog post entitled “What’s More Important:  Knowing the Right Answers or Asking the Right Questions” explored the importance of questions and answers.  This blog referred to the work of Hal Gregersen who argues “That the what-ifs, the why’s, and the why not’s are more vital to shaping a child’s lifelong creative intelligence than knowing the right answers at the right time.”  He goes on to share insights about Steve Jobs who, although he didn’t often have the right answers for his school setting, grew to be a leading innovator of our time.  He tells us, “If [children are] not listened to and encouraged to ask questions, children will lose curiosity, potentially stunting their intellectual growth and assuredly stunting their creative growth.”  He goes on to say that asking “the provocative questions are essential to forging a path to wherever you might want to go. 

It is through the asking of provocative questions that problems which need to be resolved are posed.  Asking the right questions gives us an opportunity to have a 360 degree look at the challenge we have identified.  These questions allow us to plan via scenarios and as a result will help to reduce the number of unintended consequences of actions that we take.  Asking questions, posing and surfacing problems is what informs innovation and creativity.  The youth we work closely will benefit from developing this critical habit of the mind. 
To learn more about questioning strategies and technique sheck out the Consult 4 Kids staff development system.  Contact us at or by calling (661) 322-4347/

Monday, March 17, 2014

Habits of the Mind: Striving for Accuracy

Although making a mistake is not the end of the world in most cases, striving for accuracy is an important habit of the mind.  Notice that it doesn’t say striving for perfection, rather striving for accuracy which could also be translated into excellence.  Certainly we care about how other perceive the work we do, but striving for perfection can move you further from rather than toward your desired goals.  Perfection means that you are never finished and can never contain an error.  Striving for the “error-free” state can also take an inordinate amount of time and instead of moving forward you continually go back and review your work to ensure that there are no mistakes.  Have you noticed in the Olympics how important it is that the Olympian is relaxed and focused, but not worried about a perfect performance.  When we get hung up on being “perfect” in reality we often do not do as well because we are focused on the wrong things. 

When we focus on accuracy and excellence we know that our work and performance is meeting the deliverables for this time and situation—we can always improve on the next iteration of our work.  Accuracy is about doing work that people can count on—it requires you to do your “due diligence”, consider contingencies and thinking about options to ensure the solution.  According to Scott Herrick, “We always strive for accuracy in our work — think of a nurse or a doctor administering medication to a patient, for example. But accuracy is different than perfection. Someone who focuses on excellence is proud of their 100% accuracy in delivering medication to patients.
 Someone who focuses on perfectionism delivers the same 100% accuracy in delivering medications — but wonders if they really did it right.  You build confidence from excellence; you will cover mistakes if you are a perfectionist.”Strive for accuracy and excellence—we will all be better off.  Let C4K help you build the accuracy and excellence of your staff.  Contact us at or by calling (661) 322-4347.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Habits of the Mind: Thinking About Thinking—Metacognition

Humans are the only creatures that can think about thinking or develop the skill of metacognition.  Metacognition is cognition about cognition or knowing about knowing.  It is the ability to consider how you learn as well as what you learn.  In the past we have talked about multiple intelligences (nine have been identified) and learning modalities (the most common being visual, auditory, and kinesthetic), and now we are on to the concept of metacognition.  Michael Martinez says that metacognition is more complex than just thinking about thinking.  He says, “Metacognition is the monitoring and control of thought.”  He goes on to say that there are three categories of metacognition:  metamemory, metacomprehension, and problem solving and critical thinking.  He lumps metamemory and metacomprehension together because both refer to understanding one’s own knowledge state.  Problem solving and critical thinking, he believes, are the most human of pursuits and demonstrate what we do daily or at least have the potential to do.  Martinez, an associate professor in the School of Education at the University of Irvine, full paper can be found at
"What is Metacognition?"  The article is well worth the read. 

So suffice it to say that metacognition will continue to be defined but it is important to help youth understand the best way to learn for them and how to take that knowledge and set themselves up to be more effective problem solvers and critical thinkers.

Consult 4 Kids provides information to the participant about the many different aspects of working with youth as a positive role model and mentor.  See how we can help you and your staff by checking us out at and clicking on the “Begin the Journey” icon in the upper right hand corner of the website. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Habits of the Mind: Think Flexibly

What do you think of when you hear the word “flexibly”?  I don’t know about you but I think of gymnasts and dancers who seem to be relaxed and able to move into any number of graceful positions.  I also think about contortionists who can bend, twist, and wiggle into the smallest of places.  I also think about the pretzel—not the stick kind but the ones that resemble a figure eight.  So how do these images reconcile themselves to the habit of “thinking flexibly”.  For me it is the ability to be what Angeles Arrien refers to as being “open to outcome not attached to it.”  When we have a preconceived idea about how something needs to work and how the steps should be ordered and the results that we should get, we limit our ability to think flexibly.  We see things the way we would like them to be rather than the way they are we are not thinking flexibly.  We have a preconceived notion about how things will be and that is what we see.  There is an expression that goes this way, “If you think you can, you can.  If you think you can’t, you can’t.  Either way you are right.”  So being positive or negative is not the point of flexibility.  The point of flexibility is to be open to what is going on, capturing the “current best thinking”, being willing to change your mind, and being nimble in your thought process as it twists and turns and takes you through a plethora of possible scenarios. 

Thomas Edison is the perfect example of “thinking flexibly” to me.  He had a goal—develop an electric light.  He tried over 10,000 times to make this a reality.  Each time he was unsuccessful, he thought flexibly and came up with another game plan and tried again.  Thinking flexibly didn’t mean giving up on his desired outcome, it meant looking at the information in front of him and making adjustments as needed.

At Consult 4 Kids we have “bundled options” and ways we can help you provide a comprehensive Staff development system for your staff.  Contact us a or by calling (661) 322-4347.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Habits of the Mind: Listen with Understanding and Empathy

Communication is a two way street.  Someone needs to speak and someone else needs to listen, really listen with understanding and empathy.  Too often we hear the words, apply our own thoughts and experiences to them, and then react or respond to what we’ve translated.  When you take the time to listen with understanding and empathy you keep your own agenda and understanding at bay and focus in on the communicators expression of his/her truth and experience.  When we do this, we are “seeking first to understand” which is part of Covey’s guidelines for effectiveness. In his course he shares that when we hear without understanding it is much like putting on a pair of glasses with corrections that do not fit our needs.  No matter how hard we try to see it through this lens, we will not really grasp the real picture.  Until we listen not just with our ears but with our hearts as well we will miss the message that is being sent to us.
When we listen with understanding and empathy we need to check in with the person speaking to be sure that we are grasping the message correctly.  We can do that by saying, “So what I’m hearing you say…” or asking a clarifying question or requesting more information.  When we share our understanding of what was said we give the speaker the opportunity to clarify further.  Our language is so loaded with nuance and experiential understandings, that this clarification will often broaden our perceptions as well as deepen our understanding of others.

At Consult 4 Kids we want all youth workers to be positive role models and mentors for the youth they work with.  We have a comprehensive Staff Development Program that supports the progress of both frontline staff and site coordinators.  Check out our revamped website at

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Habits of the Mind—Managing Impulsivity

There is a big difference to my way of thinking between impulsivity and the phrase “carpe diem” credited to Horace in 23 BC.  This phrase, “carpe diem”, translates into “seize the day”.  In the film, Dead Poet’s Society, the professor John Keating encourages, “Seize the day, boys.  Make your life extraordinary.”  The notion of impulsivity on the other hand speaks to acting out of whim—with little or no forethought.  While “seize the day” is proactive, impulsivity is reactive and learning to live in a proactive state helps all of use accomplish our goals.
We often tell people when they are angry to “Stop.  Count to 10”.  This is good advice in helping us to learn to manage our impulsivity.  If we would just “stop” and consider we would be in better shape.  When we “act in haste” we often are required to “repent in leisure”.  For example, have you noticed how when you start to look for a new car it is easy to pick the car that attracts you only to find out after we’ve signed on the dotted line that we didn’t get the best deal or, even more distressing, picked the wrong car altogether.  It is so easy to feel that sense of urgency to act that we do not manage our impulsivity and regret the action almost immediately.
When you think about the decision we make, we tend to make those decisions based on emotions (which can certainly lead us to being impulsive) and then begin to rationalize that decision based on logic.  When we do this we are not managing impulsivity we are simply justifying it.  Learning to step back and consider will allow us and youth to be happier with our decisions.

Building relationships with others is one place we need to apply managing our impulsivity.  Getting to know a person well takes time.  Learn strategies for building strong relationships through Consult 4 Kids Virtual Education.  Check us out by logging into and beginning your journey by clicking on the icon on the top right-hand corner of the website.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Habits of the Mind—Persistence

Persistence is one of those habits that we need to help young people develop.  Persistence is labeled as resiliency in Youth Development circles.  Persistence is the ability to keep on, keeping on.  It is important that this persistence is proactive and that the situations youth find themselves in are analyzed to determine which “next steps” make the most sense. 
We can share stories with youth to help them understand the idea of persistence.  Two that come to mind include the Tortoise and the Hare and The Little Engine That Could.  In both of these stories the notion of “slow and steady wins the race” and “go slow to go fast” ultimately carry the day.  It is important that youth understand this concept.  There are other expressions that also speak to persistence.  “No pain, no gain” is one of those and can certainly speak to youth who are interested in sports.  Think about the Olympic athletes who train for years in order to get to the Olympics, and certainly getting to Olympics is only a part of the strategy they will have to employee to be successful.  An expression that speaks to both persistence and the importance of collaboration is “many hands make hard work light”.  Helping youth to understand that persistence does not have to be a singular pursuit, can also make persisting more appealing. 
The final thought about persistence is captured in this phrase, “from adversity—steel”.  Persistence requires us to work hard, to face adversity and tough times, and move forward anyway.  Persistence helps to build the character of the individual—without it, we would not be nearly so fortunate.

Consult 4 Kids encourages you to share your story of persistence with us.  We would love to highlight you through our Guest Spotlight.  Send your story along with a picture to