Every season, Destination Imagination customers just like you provide feedback so we can explore for the next year how we can improve and innovate.
(What else would you expect from an organization devoted to fostering children’s creativity? ?)
After all, we believe extracurricular activities need to be just as enriching and more so than academics.
This year our research went deeper.
If you’re on the fence about whether to participate—as a team, Team Manager, volunteer, or donor—check out these DI stories from parents and educators who have a unique role guiding their teams through the finish line.
Parents and educators see children transform and gain important capabilities.
Among the most consistent observations parents, educators, and Team Managers see is children of all ages gaining confidence.
We never tire of hearing their stories*. Like this one about creativity and confidence.
“I had one kid who was super quirky and very not confident. He joined DI, and two years later, his mom came up to me and burst into tears.
She said, ‘He is so confident. He feels like he has good ideas. He has faith and belief in himself and his capabilities. And I give all the credit to DI.’”
Kids gain creativity and confidence but not simply by creating in the abstract. As you know, they create solutions to specific Challenges, and even more urgently, they create under the pressure of time and competition.
And that requires a group of children to come together as a team, valuing each other’s contributions and talents, to create the best solutions.
One team of mostly first-time DI participants, 5th-grade girls, loved the superhero theme of last year’s Improv Challenge.
Their Team Manager loved their teamwork, especially under the pressure cooker of performance.
“It was interesting to see them evolve to be able to work as a team and to find elements that each of them felt like they could add.
“What they really liked was how that was different from the overall school curriculum. Not studying on their own and writing a paper or giving a presentation. They had to figure out how to do something really quickly.”
Even in the best of circumstances, when you mix a group of kids together, differences of opinion surface. Team Managers help their teams work through conflict positively and productively, and those are skills educators bring to their classrooms.
“A lot of my students are on the autism spectrum and have similar diagnoses that make it more challenging for them to navigate those social-emotional barriers.
“And so when there’s conflict, like on the DI team, for me to be able to take a step back and ask, ‘How are you going to handle this? You have the tools; how are you going to take this on yourselves?,’ has been really, really powerful.”
As you know, one of the hallmarks of DI—and a characteristic that is particularly challenging for first-time Team Managers—is that kids rule. They get to make all the decisions.
This attribute is unlike sports—often directed by grown-ups—and extracurricular learning activities—typically an extension of the classroom, using the same style of learning and thinking, even if they involve a project.
“DI is distinct in its hands-off approach. It forces critical thinking and independent thinking, which is really very different from the kind of learning in the classroom. This is really important for raising kids who are going to be leaders in thinking later.”
What do you think?
How have you seen your children develop in these areas of creativity, confidence, teamwork, conflict resolution, and critical thinking?
To hear more from other parents, check out this short video.
*Research participants shared their stories anonymously.