supports the conclusion that participation in constructive and supportive programs during out-of-school hours both encourages positive development in many areas and reduces the likelihood of engagement in problematic behaviors. These programs can remediate deficiencies in skills already evident by early adolescence, teach new intellectual and soft skills critical for high school success and movement into jobs that provide sufficient income to support a family, provide intellectually challenging experiences to foster continued cognitive development, support continued positive socioemotional development, help establish strong social connections between the kinds of individuals and social institutions that help youth both to be conventionally successful during their adolescence and to make a successful transition into adulthood, provide a place to meet peers with positive social values and a positive vision of their futures, and provide a place where adolescents can feel accepted and can explore both their personal and social identities without having to continually confront racism and cultural intolerance (e.g., Barber et al., in press; Blum et al., 2000; Larson, 2000; Vandell and Posner, 1999; Eccles and Barber, 1999; Furstenberg et al., 1999; Elder and Conger, 2000; see Chapters 4, 5, and 6 for more details).

But such programs need to be developmentally, as well as culturally, appropriate to achieve these goals. As we discuss in more detail in the following sections, youth of different ages are likely to benefit from different experiences. During the years between 10 and 14, they are experiencing the most dramatic biological changes and are most susceptible to peer influence. During this time they also typically experience the transition from elementary school to secondary school, and conflicts with parents peak. Finally, they are just beginning to have the cognitive capacity to engage in formal reasoning. Programs for this age group need to take these characteristics into account. Developmental theory and the empirical evidence reviewed in Chapters 3 and 4 suggest the following kinds of programmatic needs for this age group:

  • Educational programs that:

    • Help young adolescents and their parents understand the biological changes they are experiencing;

    • Make sure young adolescents have the academic skills necessary to take and succeed in college preparatory secondary school courses; and

    • Provide sufficient intellectual challenge that young adolescents can learn to use formal reasoning skills effectively.

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