Youth Development


The objectives of the youth development section are to help participants have an increased awareness of the developmental stages and characteristics of youth, be able to define implications for chaperoning specific 4-H events and activities based on the developmental characteristics, and assist in conducting 4-H activities in a developmentally appropriate manner.

Ages and Stages of Youth Development

As youth grow and mature, they develop physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially at different rates. Understanding the different levels of development will assist you in your role as a 4-H chaperone. Growth and development of an individual continues from birth through the lifespan. Growth is something that can be measured. Each child will progress at his/her own individual rate. Youth will progress at different rates for each of the four development areas also.

Children develop at their own paces. All characteristics will not be observed in all children at the same age or at the same stage of development. For each child, consider uniqueness, needs, and interests. Age is not a perfect predictor of maturity. Growth may proceed at different rates in the various developmental areas within an individual child.

Stages of Youth Development

The stages of youth development are generally broken down into four age divisions. To coincide with many of our Illinois 4-H programs, this section will define the following divisions:

Developmental Characteristics and Implications

Select the age group for the youth you will be chaperoning. Read the “Characteristics and Implications” fact sheet for that age group and review the content.

Youth Development Resource

Another excellent resource is Understanding and Working with Youth by Deb Gebeke, Family Science Specialist, North Dakota State University Extension. Please review this publication to get an overview of the characteristics for each developmental category.

How Old Am I? Quiz

Complete this short quiz "How Old Am I?" to finish this section.