The term “volunteer” might not mean much to your child at the moment, but even children as young as three can learn the value of helping others. With the end of the school year barreling down on the kids, finding something to combat the summertime boredom can be tough. That being said, the world is far from being a perfect place, and many people, animals, and communities need help. Although government officials and professionals try to meet everyone’s needs, it’s impossible for them to do it all.
This is why people become volunteers: because they can make a difference in someone’s life. If people never help one another and only care about themselves, the world would, ultimately, become a cruel, and sadder place. However, when we volunteer our time and talents, we help make our planet a better, happier home where people work together in order to make life easier for all.
Now is the time to start a lifelong commitment of giving, not only during the holidays but also all year round. Here are some helpful ways to get your child involved in community service:
Find something fun to do
Community service doesn’t have to be a chore. Find something fun that interests your child or your family. It’s best to look for something that really fits you and matches your family’s dynamics. Most children, for example, love animals, and giving money to charities can feel like a somewhat disconnected and nebulous relationship. That’s why it’s important to find an animal shelter or wildlife rescue center that relies on donations of food, water, towels, and volunteers to keep things going, so that you and you child can get more involved.
Think beyond volunteering
Beyond traditional community service opportunities, take your child on a field trip to expose them to an important social issue, such as homelessness, animal welfare, or the environment. These experiences can help set the foundation in knowledge and most importantly, enthusiasm for future volunteer opportunities. By showing your child who and what needs help out there in the world, you can tap into how they would like to make a difference. The idea behind this is to teach your child to appreciate what they have, and to understand that they can make a difference in someone’s life.
Try to make it a part of the family schedule
With school, work, sports, and events, family life can be extremely busy. The trick, however, is to build volunteering into your family’s schedule so that it slowly becomes a priority. It can be a one-time deal every year on Thanksgiving feeding the homeless, or a long-term commitment in which you and your family go to shelters or senior homes on a regular basis. If you make it part of the family routine, you can instill the notion that your family values giving back to the community by giving its time and helping hands to those in need. It’s also important to make sure that your child has a say in what the family’s chooses, so that they get even more out of the experience.
Enlist your friends and family members
Once you catch the giving spirit, consider asking your friends and other family members to join in. For instance, you can make care packages for troops overseas or for the animal shelters near you. You or your child can call grandparents, aunts, or uncles to ask them to pick up sample-size toiletries or other items that would fit nicely in a package. Once everyone is on board, your child will then see just how important giving is to the family at large.
Notice the impact
Volunteering or doing community service can benefit your child tremendously, as well as help create a family bond. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with your kids can also foster conversations about their lives and turn learning into something fun. The project doesn’t need to be on a grand scale to impact those intended to benefit from it. For most children, a “thank you” from the receiver goes a long way in making them feel good about what they’ve done.
In the long run, people volunteer for a wide variety of reasons, especially wanting to help others. Rather than viewing it as something you do for people who are not as fortunate as you, begin to think of it as an exchange. In other words, view it as an opportunity of giving back to a community that has given back to you.
If you aren’t currently volunteering, there are many resources online that can help you find an opportunity. Committing even as little as one hour a week can have a profound benefit on your own life, and organizations that rely on volunteer help.
Thanks for reading the article! I’m curious to know, what are some other ways parents can volunteer with their children? Feel free to leave comments below. Thanks!