Volunteering offers numerous benefits to those involved, but can also be a life-changing experience when it becomes a permanent part of your children’s lives. Mighty Mommy has 5 fun ways to incorporate community service into your family’s lifestyle.
Volunteering is a great learning experience for children. Of course, it’s not always easy to get a child to understand that giving is better than receiving. But with a little perseverance and a positive attitude, they will begin to understand the true concept of volunteerism, and this can reward them for the rest of their life.
Today, Mighty Mommy has 5 fun ways you can incorporate volunteerism into your family’s lifestyle.
Tip #1: Volunteering Encourages a Lifelong Service Ethic
By getting your children involved in volunteer opportunities at a young age, you create a lasting influence about the importance of giving well into adulthood. I grew up with parents who were school teachers. I can remember back as early as kindergarten going with my mother and siblings to low income housing neighborhoods and helping to start vegetable gardens with families who had next to nothing. I believe that my parents’ guidance in focusing on community service at such a young age is the main reason I volunteer with several non-profit agencies today, and I include my own kids when opportunities present themselves.
Targeting children ages 10 and under will likely solidify and ground the value of giving within a child's emerging self-concept. So if volunteerism is important to you and your family, start presenting your kids with age-appropriate opportunities as early as possible.
Tip #2: Make it Interesting, Fun, and Age-Appropriate
As our children enter middle and high school, community service hours are required to meet certain goals such as National Honor Society and, in some schools, even graduation. For students who have never participated in any organized volunteerism programs, giving of their time can feel like a chore, rather than an act of true kindness.
If we get our kids involved in volunteerism as early as elementary or middle school, it’s important to provide them with opportunities that they will enjoy rather than consider daunting. So look for things that your child can relate to. If they enjoy using their hands, perhaps they could volunteer for cleaning work or landscaping help. If they play a musical instrument, perhaps there are opportunities at your local performing arts center. If they love animals, they could volunteer at your local animal shelter. My daughter, age 7, loves to paint and draw. She makes whimsical placemats that we donate to our local Meals on Wheels organization so that the housebound folks who receive their weekly meals will have something fun and colorful to look at when they eat their meals. To take this one step further, some of my older children have volunteered to deliver the meals, and my daughter has gone with them to introduce herself to these folks as the artist. It was a proud and inspiring experience for her.
For some children, the idea of helping the less fortunate seems to come naturally, but others require a little help to truly understand the concept. The main thing to remember is that we are dealing with kids here, not adults, so be patient with them in finding a niche that works.