Is your teen programming attendance really low or virtually non-existent? You’re not alone! Teen programming can be so difficult sometimes because one year, you could have great attendance and really interested patrons, then the next year it’s like they all disappeared and no one is showing up to anything.
It could be that they stopped showing up because they moved, graduated, the time/day of your program no longer worked, or they simply lost interest. This can all feel very defeating, but there are still things you can do to try to change that and reinvigorate your programming.
I currently work at two public libraries and it’s so interesting to see the difference in attendance for teen programming. At one of them, we have anywhere between 10-30 teens at almost every program. At that branch we have programs on the second and last saturday of every month. And we also do an after hours program every other month.
My other library, has very poor attendance for majority of the teen programs but has a large amount of teens that hang out after school. That branch has a Teen Tuesday event which usually has around 20 teens. That program is more just hanging out and playing video games and chilling with their friends. Our more structured programs are the complete opposite, and we count ourselves lucky if ANYONE shows up. Hence, we’ve decided to revamp our programming and see what happens!
Until now, we’ve had three weekly Friday teen programs. They were: Teen Crafternoon, Teen Board Game Time, and Teen Robotics with cubelets. We found that teen crafternoon is generally a hit, but when they don’t know what they are doing each month, attendance has suffered. The other two, got very old, very fast.
Thus we have our new ideas! We are keeping Teen Crafternoon – but explicitly stating what we are doing each month so they know ahead of time. We are changing Teen Board Game Time to just general Teen Game Time. This allows us much more freedom in what we can do. We are not taking robotics away completely, we are instead switching it to Teen STEAM so that we can do other things but still use cubelets when we want!
For January, the first things we are doing as part of the new revamp is: dream jars for Crafternoon, life-size board games for Teen Game Time, and we’ll be making slime for Teen STEAM. We are hoping these fun, new activities will help boost our attendance.
If you don’t have many teen programs at all and are starting from scratch, here are a few things you can think about when coming up with teen programming next year. Some of the things are:
- What day/time works best for your location?
- What is your age range? Is it by age or by grade? (ex: ages 11-17, or 6th-12th grade?)
- What sort of programming are your teens actually interested in?
- Are you able to offer food? Food brings teens in!
A great way to start collecting this information is to put out a survey in your teen space or to have available at your youth service’s desk. Once you start getting them turned back in, you can begin to see the needs/wants of your patrons.
If you want to just dive right into programming and see what happens, there are several easy and relatively cheap/free programs you can test out. Some ideas you might try are:
- Recess Rewind – hula hoop contest, 4 corners, parachute games, red light green light, simon says, etc.
- Paper airplane challenge – just need paper and maybe tape! Can do contests of who’s goes the furthest, who has the craziest design, etc.
- Minute to Win It: these are all over pinterest and supplies can usually be found hanging around the building or the dollar store!
- Legos – give them challenges like tallest tower, longest bridge, or a specific thing to build.
- Coloring/Drawing – just put out different coloring pages and supplies and let them create.
The last thing you might consider trying out before diving straight into new teen programming, is more passive programming to get teens to start interacting at all. Many of these can also be set up using supplies you already have, and don’t always take a lot of time on your part. Unless you decide to set something up that is more in-depth or done over a span of time. Some starting ideas you can think about are:
- Post-it note poetry – you may want check these every few days for appropriateness…
- Book reviews
- Coloring pages/word searches/crosswords/sudoku
- Bookmark contest
- If you have a white board – Would You Rather…? weekly questions
- Scavenger hunts
Are you doing anything to reinvigorate or revamp your teen programming? Have you tried any of these ideas out or are planning to? Let us know in the comments!