February 2010
4-H Extension Corner

Cloverbuds: The Youngest 4-Hers

 

Many Cloverbuds appreciate the fine art of mixing dirt and water to create mud. If you are going to be a gardener, mud is a great place to start.

A question I often hear is: "My kids are too young to be in a 4-H club. How can I get them involved in 4-H?" The answer is easy: "Start a Cloverbuds club!"

Cloverbuds are a special part of the Alabama 4-H youth development program. Cloverbuds provide a "have-fun-while-learning" way to build the confidence, social skills, decision-making abilities, knowledge and physical skills of five to eight year olds. Children can learn about art, science and all of the other subjects that are part of traditional 4-H. However, there is a unique blend of activities and opportunities specifically designed for their age level, without competition.

The primary goal of the Cloverbud program is to promote children’s healthy development - mentally, physically, socially and emotionally. It provides an excellent opportunity for children to reach their highest potential, since early-life experiences, even subtle ones, affect young people’s future development.

This Cloverbud is building a birdhouse as part of a day camp at the Anniston Museum of Natural History. The activity helps her develop creativity and organization, as well as practicing fine motor skills – and having fun.

 

Like all of Alabama 4-H, young people develop belonging, independence, generosity and mastery. Interestingly, the research shows children who are able to build those life skills are far less likely to have later problems with drug use, school failure, delinquency and depression later in life. They become healthier and happier adults!

Cloverbuds meet separately from any other 4-H group or club. They may meet in community centers, schools, libraries, childcare settings, churches or in the homes of interested parents or trained adults.

All 4-H programs are designed using university-based research on topics like leadership, environmental education and healthy lifestyles. That is also the basis for Cloverbud programs. Your county Alabama Cooperative Extension System staff can link you to activities and projects matching this age group and help you organize your club.

Many kindergarten and early elementary teachers make Cloverbuds an enriching part of their classrooms. Teachers trained in the Cloverbud curricula receive support and resources from their county Extension office. Some county Extension programs also build summer day-camps around Cloverbud activities. For example, it’s easy to create a day camp focusing just on the arts, the environment, plant and animal science – or a wider array of 4-H topics.

 

Many Alabama kindergarten teachers include Cloverbud learning as part of their classroom activities.

Cloverbud programs are guided by an adult volunteer, whether in a club-like setting, a school or a special-emphasis group. Adult and teen volunteers guiding the Cloverbud program receive educational instruction on how to work with this particular age group.

The Cloverbud Connection

The Alabama 4-H website (www.alabama4h.com) offers more than a dozen easy-to-do activity areas, from learning about world geography to studying the science of bubbles. Any parent whose child has asked "What causes bubbles?" should look at this as part of Parenting 101.

Our website also links to our Junior Master Gardener program, Just Move Alabama and other programs that can be adapted to younger kids.

Amy Payne Burgess is a 4-H Regional Extension Agent in Northeast Alabama. She may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..