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4-H & Home School
4-H & The Home School Family
The 4-H program believes in the power of non-formal education and the
Experiential Learning Model. As a home school family, you have your own
thoughts about delivery methods that are best for your children. As you
make lesson plans for teaching your children, investigating the
opportunities that exist within your county’s extension 4-H program can be
helpful to you.
At its essence, non-formal education is
youth-driven; it requires turning the learning over to the youth and
allowing them to decide what they want to learn and how they want to learn
it. In non-formal settings, self-directed learners take control of the
topic of study, the means of learning and the outcome. Non-formal
education benefits youth because it involves personal choice, which helps
youth to develop decision-making skills, and clarify their ideas and
A second key component of 4-H education is
our emphasis on the Experiential Learning Model. This “learning by doing”
or hands-on learning, is not only a hallmark of 4-H buy also engages the
learner in an interactive way. Learning by doing requires youth
involvement or interaction with the objects they are studying. In 4-H
Youth Development, we know that youth learn best when they are actively
involved in relevant, real-world situations. As a result, our educational
materials and programs are developed to reflect the Experiential Education
Model with its emphasis on doing, reflecting on the experience, and then
applying what was learned in other settings.
- The youth-driven model also implies that
youth and adults learn together. Clearly one of the strengths of 4-H
Youth Development programs is the development of personal relationships,
which benefit youth through:
- The development of interpersonal skills
with peers outside the formal classroom;
- Access to multiple caring adults,
through whom youth receive guidance, direction, and feedback that
reinforces the parental efforts;
- Access to multiple adult role models in
addition to parents so that youth benefit emotionally, scholastically,
Source: Walker, Joyce. 1998. “Youth
Development Education: Supports and Opportunities for Young People.” The
Center. University of Minnesota Center for 4-H Youth Development. Winter:
What has nearly 30 years of research told
us about the transitions of young people into adulthood? That answer is in
the answer to the following question, which shapes the purposes and the
practices of all 4-H Youth Development programs:
“What does it take to assist young
people to become healthy, problem-solving, constructive adults?”
- Find a valued place in a constructive
- Learn how to form close, durable human
- Earn a sense of worth as a person.
- Achieve a reliable basis for making
- Express constructive curiosity and
- Find ways of being useful to others.
- Believe in a promising future with real
- Cultivate the inquiring and
problem-solving habits of the mind necessary for life-long learning and
- Learn to respect democratic values and
- Build a healthy lifestyle.
Source: The Carnegie Council on Adolescent
Development, 1995: Great Transitions: Preparing Adolescents for a New
Century. Concluding report of the Carnegie Council on Adolescent
Development. New York: Carnegie Corporation of New York.
How can my home schooled family be part
- Join a 4-H club! Contact the 4-H office
or check out the Fulton-Montgomery Counties 4-H Club List on this
website to locate a 4-H club near you. Contact the organizational leader
of the club and ask the questions that are important to your family. You
can better make a match for your child by talking with the leader and
expressing your child’s needs.
- Start a new neighborhood 4-H club! If
there is no existing 4-H club that meets your needs, you can start your
own group with five youth and two caring adults. Oftentimes the 4-H
office will have interested families seeking a club if you don’t have
five youth to get started. Check out the volunteer section on this
website to find out more about becoming a 4-H club leader and 4-H club
- Enroll as an Independent 4-H member! If
a 4-H club activity schedule does not fit your family’s schedule or if a
youth group does not fit your child’s needs, youth may enroll in 4-H as
an Independent 4-H member. As an independent member, your child has all
of the rights and responsibilities of 4-H club membership. Youth enroll
in projects that match their interests and they learn with the help of
an adult mentor – a parent/guardian or other adult relative, a neighbor
or other interested adult. Independent members plan and implement
community service projects and practice good citizenship in their
communities. Independent members do not participate in parliamentary
procedure like 4-H club members do during their business meetings.
Independent members do not experience the recreational activities with
peers as 4-H club members do.
- Use 4-H project materials as resources
for teaching curriculum in a home school setting! Many 4-H project
teaching materials in Fulton and Montgomery Counties supplement
classroom lessons with hands-on, experiential learning activities to
make subject matter come alive before the child. Check out the project
code list on this website and call a 4-H educator to talk about how 4-H
project materials can help you meet the learning standards for your
- Arrange a home school group lesson! Get
together with other home school families to teach a lesson. In a manner
similar to a classroom field trip, we may be able to arrange
participation in a 4-H educator-led lesson or series of lessons for 20
or more students on a specific subject matter. Call the 4-H office and
ask about our school programs.
- Participate in a teacher training!
Sometimes 4-H educators offer teacher trainings in specialized subject
matter. As a home school teacher you are eligible to attend some
trainings. Watch local media notices and call the 4-H office to ask
about scheduled teacher trainings.
- Sponsor a 4-H Day for Home School
Families! Work with the 4-H staff in Fulton & Montgomery Counties to
plan and hold an informational event where home school families can see
and learn first-hand about 4-H projects and activities. Call the 4-H
office for more details.
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Equal Opportunity Statement
Equal Program Opportunity
Because the 4-H Youth Development Program
is a component of the national Cooperative Extension System, which is
supported by Federal, State and County funds it is governed by the equal
opportunity laws of those three governmental entities. The Cornell
Cooperative Extension equal opportunity statement is based on those
regulations. 4-H clubs must abide by the standard it sets.
Cornell Cooperative Extension
actively affirms equality of program and
employment opportunities regardless of race, color, national origin,
religion, disability, age, gender, sexual orientation or marital status.