Three Tips for Elementary Leadership Activities
Elementary leadership activities in the classroom assist students to develop skills necessary as they prepare for junior high and high school. Laying the foundation for developing leadership skills involves critical thinking and exploring solutions to problems that sidetrack team projects and other group activities.
Here are three tips on activities that can be used to examine leadership with elementary school students.
Elementary leadership activity #1: Who makes a good leader?
Perhaps the best place to start with elementary leadership activities into the classroom is with a solid definition of what leadership is. One project that helps students grasp the overall concept involves brainstorming. This activity also includes key components related to language arts, technology, health (emotional components), mathematics and critical thinking. Follow these steps:
- Create a diagram
- Use critical thinking skills from students to add details to the diagram
- Have students organize details to write their own short narrative answering the question, “What makes a good leader?”
Discuss the skills and attributes that define a good leader with the class. Encourage students to add their own perceptions about what makes a good leader. Encourage students to take notes. After discussing leadership roles and skills, explain the concept of brainstorming to the class. Ask students to create their own lists for individuals diagrams and essays.
Elementary leadership activity #2: Communication barriers
Effective communication is a primary characteristic of a good leader. Educators and students must develop effective communication styles and use available tools that overcome obstacles that hinder communication among team members. Communication is vital to our existence; elementary leadership activities can address four common barriers to communication.
Leaders must speak in a commonly understood language or find alternative ways to communicate using pictures, expressions and vocal intonation. Have children communicate with flashcards, colored flags or hand signals during a group activity to show how language barriers limit understanding.
Sometimes not being face-to-face can create communication barriers. Activities that create and eliminate barriers demonstrate how physical separation limits personal expression.
Some barriers are self-imposed. Stereotyping and past experience play a huge role in the development of perceived barriers. With guidance from the instructor, students can explore how stereotypes develop and what perpetuates those perceptions. Discussions about how to overcome these imaginary boundaries will lead students to a better understanding of how and why emotions impact communication.
Personality differences often inhibit communication. Conflict resolution techniques are necessary to set aside personal differences to support team efforts. Elementary leadership activities to help students understand different personality types lead to better understand of the various forms of expression—facial, vocal, behavioral, physical and emotional.
Elementary leadership activity #3: Ethical decision making
Almost every leadership decision affects people directly and indirectly. Ethics is a difficult concept for many primary school students to grasp; however, understanding the difference between right and wrong actions gives even first and second graders a foundation for developing strong leadership skills.
Making good decisions for a group or team involves exploring how decisions will impact everyone, including people that will interact directly and indirectly with the team. For elementary students this group of stakeholders will include other students, teachers, parents, cafeteria workers, administrators, family members and others.
Ask students to list as many people as they can that they come in contact with in a week. Then have students list how their decisions affect other people. As the students share their lists, they will see how some people on the lists overlap and some are only on one list. This gives the teacher an opportunity to explain how everyone influences some common groups.
Explore the outcomes for positive, effective decisions that consider the consequences and people involved against decisions made in haste without considering the ripple effects.