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June 6, 2023

Empowering Middle Schoolers: Leadership in After School

Kenneth Farr Podcast
As featured on The Ellen Show, hear about Curacubby for yourself from one our customers, Principal Kenneth Farr of St. David of Wales School in Richmond Ca.
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Empowering Middle Schoolers: Leadership in After School

Empowering Middle Schoolers: Leadership in After School

Leadership is a critical life skill, and nurturing this trait during the impressionable middle school years can significantly influence a student's personal and professional trajectory. Middle school is a phase of transformation where students start to shape their identities, develop their values, and understand their place in the world. During these years, they are more receptive to learning new skills and are eager to explore their potential. Leadership skills fostered during this period can provide students with a robust foundation, helping them navigate the academic challenges they face and preparing them for future life experiences.

However, the importance of fostering these skills outside the traditional classroom context is often underestimated. While schools do provide students with various learning experiences, the rigid structure of the academic curriculum often limits their opportunities for personal growth. After-school activities, on the other hand, offer a break from this structure, creating an environment where creativity, initiative-taking, and personal growth are celebrated.

In essence, after-school activities serve as an effective platform for developing leadership skills among middle school students. They provide the flexibility for students to explore their interests, take on responsibilities, and develop critical thinking skills. These experiences not only complement their classroom learning but also significantly contribute to their holistic development, preparing them to be confident and competent leaders of tomorrow.

Understanding Middle Schoolers: Their Needs and Potential

Middle school years serve as a critical juncture in a young person's life. It's a time when children, transitioning from elementary school to adolescence, experience a whirlwind of physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. They are beginning to see the world in a more complex way, exploring their individuality and starting to understand where they fit into their peer groups, families, and the larger world.

During these years, middle schoolers increasingly strive for autonomy. They start asserting their independence and questioning the norms and values they've been taught. They test boundaries and seek opportunities for decision-making, an indication of their growing critical thinking abilities.

However, their quest for independence often comes with a need for guidance and support. While they are eager to assert their autonomy, they often require direction to navigate the complexities of adolescence. As such, the challenge for parents, educators, and community leaders is to strike a balance between providing guidance and allowing independence.

After-school activities provide a suitable platform for achieving this balance. These programs offer a controlled yet flexible environment where middle schoolers can safely explore, experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them. Through these activities, they get a chance to apply their critical thinking skills, learn to work in teams, and make decisions, contributing significantly to their overall development.

The Role of After School Activities in Leadership Development

After-school activities play a critical role in promoting leadership development among middle schoolers. These activities provide an environment that diverges from the structured, often rigid, academic setting, offering more freedom and fostering creativity. They are designed to be engaging, fun, and interactive, encouraging students to participate and take initiative.

From student councils and debate clubs to sports and community service, after-school activities are varied and numerous. Each of these activities provides different experiences that contribute uniquely to developing leadership skills. For instance, student councils offer firsthand experience in responsibility and team coordination. Debate clubs encourage analytical thinking and effective communication, and community service can instill a sense of social responsibility.

These activities offer practical, real-world scenarios where students can apply their critical thinking skills, work collaboratively, and solve problems. They provide a safe space for students to make mistakes, learn from them, and improve. Furthermore, they offer opportunities for students to step up, take on roles of responsibility, and experience what it's like to lead others.

Thus, after-school activities serve as an excellent platform for leadership development, complementing and enhancing the education middle schoolers receive during school hours, contributing to their professional development, and fostering community engagement.

student with leadership skills

Benefits of Leadership Skills in Middle Schoolers

Incorporating leadership skills at the middle school level can translate into a multitude of benefits. These advantages extend beyond academics, influencing a student's personal growth, social skills, and preparation for future career challenges.

1. Critical Thinking and Decision Making

Leadership roles in after-school activities require students to think critically, make decisions, and solve problems. They need to analyze situations, consider multiple perspectives, and choose the best course of action, honing their decision-making capabilities.

2. Self-confidence and Independence

As students take on leadership roles, they gain confidence in their abilities. They start to trust their judgment and grow more independent, shaping a robust self-image and encouraging self-reliance.

3. Team Collaboration

Leadership often involves working in a team. Students learn how to effectively communicate, understand different viewpoints, manage conflicts, and work collaboratively towards common goals. This helps them build strong interpersonal and team collaboration skills.

4. Resilience and Adaptability

Taking on leadership roles means facing challenges and failures. However, these experiences help students develop resilience and adaptability - they learn to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to changes, and keep going, strengthening their mental and emotional resilience.

In conclusion, fostering leadership skills in middle schoolers can significantly contribute to their holistic development. It equips them with critical life skills that can help them navigate their academic journey and future professional life. Thus, the investment in developing these skills can yield long-term dividends, shaping confident, competent, and compassionate leaders of tomorrow.

Implementing Leadership Opportunities in After School Activities

Creating a supportive environment for leadership opportunities in after-school activities is paramount for the holistic development of middle schoolers. These platforms offer a realm outside the traditional classroom setting where students can explore their potential, learn from experiences, and grow as individuals. It is crucial, however, that these opportunities are carefully crafted and effectively implemented.

1. Diverse Opportunities

Encourage participation in a wide range of activities. This will help students explore different skills and interests, enabling them to find their niche and thrive.

2. Ownership and Responsibility

Assign tasks and responsibilities to students that match their skills and interests. This will give them a sense of ownership and encourage them to take initiative.

3. Guidance and Support

Provide necessary guidance and support. Help students understand the importance of their roles, guide them through challenges, and encourage them to learn from their experiences.

4. Encouragement to Lead

Create an environment that fosters leadership. Encourage students to take charge, make decisions, and lead teams. This will instill confidence and develop leadership skills.

In summary, effectively implementing leadership opportunities in after-school activities involves a blend of offering varied experiences, providing ample guidance, and nurturing an environment that encourages leadership. With these strategies in place, we can successfully empower our middle schoolers to become the future leaders of our communities.


The importance of leadership development during middle school years cannot be understated. As middle schoolers navigate this transformative phase, they are ripe for growth and learning. Through structured after-school activities, we can effectively channel their potential, helping them develop critical thinking skills, enhancing their professional development, and fostering community engagement.

Creating an enriching after-school environment requires an amalgamation of well-planned activities and efficient management. With a focus on education, Curacubby can play a vital role in enhancing the overall experience of these programs. Our tools can help with organizing, scheduling, and tracking progress, enabling educators to invest more time in cultivating the leadership potential of the students.

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