Focus Area 2: Youth Development

How will learning about Youth Development help me in my work?

The value of understanding the whole spectrum of Youth Development through every age and developmental stage is that it will equip you with the knowledge to recognize what is appropriate to expect of the youth you work with, and the skills to adjust your own actions and resources to most appropriately match their needs.

Young people progress at different rates, regardless of their age. Not all 15-year-olds think and act the same way just because they’re all 15, but sometimes that’s exactly what adults expect. Ever heard the expression, “Act your age?” There’s so much more to healthy youth development than advancing from one year to the next.

When you are aware of all the developmental milestones and the tasks a youth faces to achieve them successfully, then you will be an excellent resource to support and encourage them as they grow toward achieving those milestones.

Think of a youth you are currently working with. Take a moment to imagine how much change and development they have experienced from birth until today. As adults, we often take that growth for granted, not thinking of all the risks and challenges. But when you really stop to think about the multitude of changes and the magnitude of growth involved, you can more deeply appreciate the need for you to master an understanding of Youth Development.

Your training will focus on the developmental changes youth experience, typical milestones to be achieved along the way, healthy developmental outcomes, as well as factors that support or inhibit positive youth development.

You’ll learn about the key developmental channels, tasks, and milestones for three different age groups: Middle Childhood (ages 6 to 9), Pre-teens (ages 10 to 12), Adolescents (ages 13 to 18). While there are other ways to group children and youth, this grouping made the most sense for this certificate.

Regardless of the age group you currently serve in your work, it is invaluable for you to have knowledge of the stages and milestones of Youth Development. And it doesn’t matter what type of youth programming you are supporting, you’ll find the information to be readily applicable.

You are encouraged to bring this learning to life in all aspects of your work, whether you’re planning program curriculum, designing youth spaces, creating activities, or just interacting with young people. Youth Development plays into absolutely everything you do as a youth worker.

As you’re working through this module and learning about youth development, think about a specific young person whom you know or work with. Keep them in mind as you learn about various aspects of development and see how the learning might help you make sense of behaviors you’ve observed.

Learning Tip


Learning about Youth Development will serve you in every single aspect of your work with youth. Knowing the developmental stages and milestones youth progress through will provide insight into their behavior – why they do what they do. And with that knowledge, you can tailor your support and resources to best meet them where they’re at.

As a reminder, independent study like this can be a little more challenging than in person learning because you don’t have the benefit of an instructor or trainer to point out key learning as you go. You can make it easier for yourself by carefully considering the important learning objectives laid out for each lesson before you begin. Then, at the end of each section, reflect back on what you’ve learned and think about the elements that really tie into these learning objectives.

Remember, the quiz at the end of the module is based on these learning objectives. So, you’ll be better prepared for the quiz by making sure you are taking in these key learning objectives.

Learning Objectives Preview

  • Learn the different development stages, channels, tasks, and milestones for middle childhood youth, pre-teens, and adolescents
  • Gain strategies for helping young people navigate developmental changes
  • Explore resources for positive youth development
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