I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about tweens of late. My youngest son has reached tweendom at twelve, so the manifestations of the age are in my face daily. I’m working on a grant right now that is targeted at kids in junior high, and I’m learning so much about this age as a result.
Let’s talk about some fun tween facts:
- The ages of 11-14 have been proven to be critical in the development of self-regulation.
- Social and emotional awareness explodes during the tween years, with a particular emphasis on social hierarchy, gender codes, and self-identity.
- Cognitive function changes greatly between pre-adolescence and adolescence, with tweens still rooted firmly in concrete cognition, while later adolescents develop more abstract thought.
Our library has realized how crucial it is to develop programming specific to tweens. We started Tween Tech afternoons and Tween Crafternoon & Movie events to help us bridge the gap between our elementary and teen programs. Our library’s programming geared towards early learners is robust, but we tend to start losing kids around fifth and sixth grades. Once the library is off a kid’s radar, it is difficult to get back on. Tween programming is key to keeping them engaged.
I asked our children’s librarian Alex Quay what her key takeaways are for programming to this age-group. She responded, “I think the keys for us during the Tween Crafternoon + Movie so far have been options and flexibility. Tweens vote on what movie they want to watch, and I’ve always had more than one craft for them to choose from, which gives them a sense of ownership over the programming. They also have the option to just unwind with friends/family and watch the movie—no crafting necessary! I’ve noticed that parents with 3+ kids have responded really well to the program, too, as there is usually an “easier” craft for younger ones, a slightly more complicated one for the olders, and the kiddos who get easily frustrated by crafts gone wrong are happy to switch gears and enjoy the movie. It requires a good bit of set up on my part, especially with the crafts, so you’re working pretty far in advance to prep, but I think our tweens really appreciate getting to explore/play/relax however they see fit.”
Flexibility, ownership, multiple options. Sounds like the recipe for great tween programming! How do you target tweens at your library?