The Missouri 4-H Program serves all youth ages 5-18. Because this includes such a wide age range, it is important to note the differences between various age groups. How youth grow and develop at different ages is often referred to as Ages and Stages. Not all youth of the same age grow and develop at the same rate; however, the order of development is generally the same for all youth. For example, five-year-olds don’t have the physical, cognitive and social/emotional ability to compete in a livestock contest but fourteen-year-olds probably do. Sixteen-year -olds have different social needs than ten-year-olds.
The challenge of planning successful 4-H activities becomes clear when 4-H leaders receive their youth club roster – typically representing several different age ranges! This unit focuses on the unique physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of youth within a similar age range. By understanding norms, volunteers will be better prepared to plan 4-H activities with children from these age groups: five to seven, eight to ten, eleven to thirteen and fourteen to eighteen.