Including All Girls

Progression in Girl Scouts
Girl development by program level
Acceptance and inclusion


As a Girl Scout volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to guide girls of all backgrounds, behaviors, skills, and abilities. In a safe and accepting environment, you’ll help them develop leadership skills they can use now and as they grow!

Progression in Girl Scouts

Girl Scouting is for the enjoyment and benefit of the girls, so meetings are built around girls’ ideas. When you put the girls first, you’re helping develop a team relationship, making space for the development of leadership skills, and allowing girls to benefit from the guidance, mentoring, and coaching of caring adults.

Girl-adult partnership

As girls get older, Girl Scouts is the perfect opportunity for girls to take the lead, and for adult volunteers to mentor and coach girls. Remember, learning happens when we succeed and especially when we fail!

Girl development by program level

Here’s a quick look at the developmental abilities and needs of girls by Girl Scout program level. Of course, each girl is an individual, so these are only guidelines that help you get to know the girls. You’ll learn a lot about girl development in Program Level 101 Trainings.

Girl Scout Daisies

At the Girl Scout Daisy level (kindergarten and first grade), girls . . . This means . . .
Have loads of energy and need to run, walk, and play outside. They’ll enjoy going on nature walks and outdoor scavenger hunts.
Are great builders and budding artists, though they are still developing their fine motor skills. Encouraging them to express themselves and their creativity by making things with their hands. Girls may need assistance holding scissors, cutting in a straight line, and so on.
Love to move and dance. They might especially enjoy marching like a penguin, dancing like a dolphin, or acting out how they might care for animals in the jungle.
Are concrete thinkers and focused on the here and now. Showing instead of telling, for example, about how animals are cared for. Plan visits to animal shelters, farms, or zoos; meet care providers; or make a creative bird feeder.
Are only beginning to learn about basic number concepts, time, and money. You’ll want to take opportunities to count out supplies together—and, perhaps, the legs on a caterpillar!
Are just beginning to write and spell, and they don’t always have the words for what they’re thinking or feeling. That having girls draw a picture of something they are trying to communicate is easier and more meaningful for them.
Know how to follow simple directions and respond well to recognition for doing so. Being specific and offering only one direction at a time. Acknowledge when girls have followed directions well to increase their motivation to listen and follow again.

 

Girl Scout Brownies

At the Girl Scout Brownie level (second and third grade), girls . . . This means . . .
Have lots of energy and need to run, walk, and play outside. Taking your session activities outside whenever possible.
Are social and enjoy working in groups. Allowing girls to team up in small or large groups for art projects and performances.
Want to help others and appreciate being given individual responsibilities for a task. Letting girls lead, direct, and help out in activities whenever possible. Allow girls as a group to make decisions about individual roles and responsibilities.
Are concrete thinkers and focused on the here and now. Doing more than just reading to girls about the Brownie Elf’s adventures. Ask girls questions to gauge their understanding and allow them to role play their own pretend visit to a new country.
Need clear directions and structure, and like knowing what to expect. Offering only one direction at a time. Also, have girls create the schedule and flow of your get-togethers and share it at the start.
Are becoming comfortable with basic number concepts, time, money, and distance. Offering support only when needed. Allow girls to set schedules for meetings or performances, count out money for a trip, and so on.
Are continuing to develop their fine motor skills and can tie shoes, use basic tools, begin to sew, etc. Encouraging girls to express themselves and their creativity by making things with their hands. Girls may need some assistance, however, holding scissors, threading needles, and so on.
Love to act in plays, create music, and dance. Girls might like to create a play about welcoming a new girl to their school, or tell a story through dance or creative movement.
Know how to follow rules, listen well, and appreciate recognition of a job done well. Acknowledging when the girls have listened or followed the directions well, which will increase their motivation to listen and follow again!

 

Girl Scout Juniors

At the Girl Scout Junior level (fourth and fifth grades), girls . . . This means . . .
Want to make decisions and express their opinions. Whenever possible, allowing girls to make decisions and express their opinions through guided discussion and active reflection activities. Also, have girls set rules for listening to others’ opinions and offering assistance in decision making.
Are social and enjoy doing things in groups. Allowing girls to team-up in small or large groups for art projects, performances, and written activities.
Are aware of expectations and sensitive to the judgments of others. Although it’s okay to have expectations, the expectation is not perfection! Share your own mistakes and what you learned from them, and be sure to create an environment where girls can be comfortable sharing theirs.
Are concerned about equity and fairness. Not shying away from discussing why rules are in place, and having girls develop their own rules for their group.
Are beginning to think abstractly and critically, and are capable of flexible thought. Juniors can consider more than one perspective, as well as the feelings and attitudes of another. Asking girls to explain why they made a decision, share their visions of their roles in the future, and challenge their own and others’ perspectives.
Have strong fine and gross motor skills and coordination. Engaging girls in moving their minds and their bodies. Allow girls to express themselves through written word, choreography, and so on.
Love to act in plays, create music, and dance. Girls might like to tell a story through playwriting, playing an instrument, or choreographing a dance.
May be starting puberty, which means beginning breast development, skin changes, and weight changes. Some may be getting their periods. Being sensitive to girls’ changing bodies, possible discomfort over these changes, and their desire for more information. Create an environment that acknowledges and celebrates this transition as healthy and normal for girls.

 

Girl Scout Cadettes

At the Girl Scout Cadette level (sixth, seventh, and eighth grades), girls . . . This means . . .
Are going through puberty, including changes in their skin, body-shape, and weight. They’re also starting their menstrual cycles and have occasional shifts in mood. Being sensitive to the many changes Cadettes are undergoing and acknowledging that these changes are as normal as growing taller! Girls need time to adapt to their changing bodies, and their feelings about their bodies may not keep up. Reinforce that, as with everything else, people go through puberty in different ways and at different times.
Are starting to spend more time in peer groups than with their families and are very concerned about friends and relationships with others their age. That girls will enjoy teaming-up in small or large groups for art projects, performances, and written activities, as well as tackling relationship issues through both artistic endeavors and Take Action projects.
Can be very self-conscious—wanting to be like everyone else, but fearing they are unique in their thoughts and feelings. Encouraging girls to share, but only when they are comfortable. At this age, they may be more comfortable sharing a piece of artwork or a fictional story than their own words. Throughout the activities, highlight and discuss differences as positive, interesting, and beautiful.
Are beginning to navigate their increasing independence and expectations from adults—at school and at home. Trusting girls to plan and make key decisions, allowing them to experience what’s known as “fun failure:” girls learn from trying something new and making mistakes.

 

Girl Scout Seniors

At the Girl Scout Senior level (ninth and tenth grades), girls . . . This means . . .
Are beginning to clarify their own values, consider alternative points of view on controversial issues, and see multiple aspects of a situation. Asking girls to explain the reasoning behind their decisions. Engage girls in role-play and performances, where others can watch and offer alternative solutions.
Have strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and are able to plan and reflect on their own learning experiences. Girls are more than able to go beyond community service to develop projects that will create sustainable solutions in their communities. Be sure to have girls plan and follow up on these experiences through written and discussion-based reflective activities.
Spend more time in peer groups than with their families and are very concerned about friends and relationships with others their age. That girls will enjoy teaming up in small or large groups for art projects, performances, and written activities. They’ll also want to tackle relationship issues through both artistic endeavors and Take Action projects. Alter the makeup of groups with each activity so that girls interact with those they might not usually pair up with.
Frequently enjoy expressing their individuality. Encouraging girls to express their individuality in their dress, creative expression, and thinking. Remind girls frequently that there isn’t just one way to look, feel, think, or act. Assist girls in coming up with new ways of expressing their individuality.
Feel they have lots of responsibilities and pressures—from home, school, peers, work, and so on. Acknowledging girls’ pressures and sharing how stress can limit health, creativity, and productivity. Help girls release stress through creative expression, movement, and more traditional stress-reduction techniques.
Are continuing to navigate their increasing independence and expectations from adults—at school and at home. Trusting girls to plan and make key decisions, allowing them to experience what’s known as “fun failure:” girls learn from trying something new and making mistakes.

 

Girl Scout Ambassadors

At the Girl Scout Ambassador level (eleventh and twelfth grades), girls . . . This means . . .
Can see the complexity of situations and controversial issues—they understand that problems often have no clear solution and that varying points of view may each have merit. Inviting girls to develop stories as a group, and then individually create endings that they later discuss and share.
Have strong problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, and can adapt logical thinking to real-life situations. Ambassadors recognize and incorporate practical limitations to solutions. Girls are more than able to go beyond community service to develop projects that will create sustainable solutions in their communities. Be sure to have girls plan and follow up on these experiences through written and discussion-based reflective activities.
Spend more time with peers than with their families and are very concerned about friends and relationships with others their age. Girls will enjoy teaming up in small or large groups for art projects, performances, and written activities. They’ll also want to tackle relationship issues through artistic endeavors and Take Action projects. Alter the makeup of groups with each activity so that girls interact with those they might not usually pair up with.
Frequently enjoy expressing their individuality. Encouraging girls to express their individuality in their dress, creative expression, and thinking. Remind girls frequently that there isn’t just one way to look, feel, think, or act. Assist girls in coming up with new ways of expressing their individuality.
Feel they have lots of responsibilities and pressures—from home, school, peers, work, etc. Acknowledging girls’ pressures and sharing how stress can limit health, creativity, and productivity. Help girls release stress through creative expression, movement, and more traditional stress-reduction techniques.
Are continuing to navigate their increasing independence and expectations from adults—at school and at home—and are looking to their futures. Trusting girls to plan and make key decisions, allowing them to experience what’s known as “fun failure.” Girls learn from trying something new and making mistakes.

 


Acceptance and inclusion

The term “inclusion” closely follows the mission and purpose of Girl Scouting. Girl Scouts embraces girls of all abilities, backgrounds, and heritage, with a specific and positive philosophy of inclusion that benefits everyone. Inclusion is about honoring the uniqueness of and differences among us all.

What does acceptance and inclusion look like?

  • Welcome every girl and focus on building community.
  • Emphasize cooperation instead of competition.
  • Provide a safe and socially comfortable environment for girls.
  • Teach respect for, understanding of, and dignity toward all girls and their families.
  • Actively reach out to girls and families who are traditionally excluded or marginalized.
  • Foster a sense of belonging to community as a respected and valued peer.

By providing the needed support, the Girl Scout troop or group can include all girls no matter the diversity of their abilities.

Note that such support doesn’t always or necessarily require expertise in special education or therapeutic recreation, nor does it always or necessarily require expensive adaptations or modifications.

Special Needs

Consider the special needs of all members, especially those who have disabilities (which may not be visibly noticeable). You have the opportunity to improve the way society views girls with disabilities.

Focus on the person’s abilities—on what she can do rather than on what she cannot.

To find out what a girl with a disability needs to make her Girl Scout experience successful, simply ask her or her parent/guardian. It’s important for all girls to be rewarded based on their best efforts—not on the completion of a task. Be creative and modify activities for girls with special needs. Use language that puts the person before the disability:

Say . . . Instead of . . .
She has a learning disability. She is learning disabled.
She has a developmental delay. She is mentally retarded; she is slow.
She uses a wheelchair. She is wheelchair-bound.

 

When interacting with a girl or adult with a disability, consider these tips:

  • Speak directly to the person, not through someone else.
  • It’s OK to offer assistance, but wait until your offer is accepted.
  • Leaning on someone’s wheelchair is invading their space and is considered annoying and rude.
  • When speaking to someone via an interpreter, speak directly to them (not the interpreter).
  • When greeting someone with a visual disability, always identify yourself and others.
  • When speaking to someone in a wheelchair, position yourself at eye level.

Including All Girls Patch

The Including All Girls patch program will heighten Girl Scouts’ awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people’s differences and disabilities. Look for the Including All Girls patch program requirements here, or find it in the Anytime Activities section of the Events.