Small groups are often defined as a gathering of people, ranging from three in number to 13. Fewer than three doesn't quite make a group, and more than thirteen becomes difficult to manage using small group techniques. Five to seven people is a comfortable small group size. You might use formal small group sessions for teens in a classroom, a church youth group, in camp, library, youth organization or in a counseling setting.
Match the Topic to the Setting
Your selection of small group topics for your teens will be partially driven by the location and occasion for the small group. If it is a party in your home, you might want something fairly light, such as favorite movies or winning strategies in a favorite game. A school group would probably discuss material that is relevant to a class, or might revolve around a counseling topic that is important to school culture. A youth organization or a church group might discuss topics relevant to growing up healthy and safe in the local culture. A public library discussion group would revolve around a book or set of books.
If the members of your small group are friends, ice breakers aren't really needed. But if you are facilitating a group of teens who do not know each other well, and have not met before, ice breaker games get them up and moving around. Some games, such as finding the other half of a card, are relatively easy. These are good to use with groups that might be uncomfortable with a lot of talking. Games that involve finding a person described on a card requires group members to ask questions about other participants. For example, a participant might need to find someone who plays basketball, has read all the "Harry Potter" books and is enrolled in band.
Where to Get Ideas
Although teens are still growing both mentally and physically, they are often concerned with a lot of the same things that are of interest to adults. Most of all, however, they like to talk about themselves. A good way to get ideas for group topics is to read a local newspaper or surf the Internet for current issues involving teens. Some of these might be depression, teen suicide, bullying, social media, study habits, career choices, balancing work, school and life, or family life.
More on Topics
You could also facilitate having the teens pick their own topics. Divide the youngsters into two or more small groups of at least three each. Have all the members write down as many topics as they can think of in three minutes. Then ask the teams to compare notes to see if they have a match. Ask them to discuss a topic that appears on all of their sheets or at least one that they all agree upon. Help the students locate information about their topic, either in a library or on the Internet.
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