Many of us want to teach our children values in life that will bring them a sense of accomplishment and community. Feeling like a contributor to society helps combat negative thoughts about oneself and teaches each person compassion and empathy. Volunteering is one way that many adults engage in and including our children is just one more way to teach them life’s lessons. I am sharing with you just a few volunteering ideas I have used for my children and I am hoping it will inspire you to find some opportunities in your own community.
Visit The Elderly
It’s an unfortunate fact that many elderly people go into retirement homes and then lose touch with their family. Taking the time out each week to go and visit some elderly is a fantastic way to give back to those who contributed to the community you live in. It is also a great volunteering opportunity for children of any age. Many elderly love to see toddlers and babies. Older children can help by playing games or listening to the elder’s stories of when they were young. Reading to the elderly is often requested when one’s eyes are unable to read the pages.
Assist The Sick
In many churches across the US, there are groups of people who will volunteer time to aid those who are homebound and sick. This may be taking meals, picking up medications, helping care for the home, or simply visiting with someone so they are a bit less lonely. If you don’t belong to a church but know of someone who needs this kind of help, don’t be afraid to offer and bring the kids along. Showing support to someone who is healing is essential to community-building and kids can learn big lessons about compassion and service to others who are in an unfortunate situation.
Don’t Forget Park or Roadside Cleanup
Keep an eye out for those opportunities for volunteering to do cleanup. Parks, riversides, and roadsides are popular places that many people will take the time to pickup trash. This is a teaching lesson for children that are middle school age and older. They can visually see how human beings treat the environment and the hard work that goes into taking care of it. It can also drive home the importance of recycling and keeping our lands clear as we live.
A Couple Of Tips
Do be sure your child will be able to handle the volunteering. Not only should it be age appropriate, it should be environmentally safe as well. Roadside cleanup is wonderful unless you live in an area that is rife with dirty needles on the ground (and it’s a sad truth that it happens).
Volunteering around the holidays is also a great thing to engage in but do make a point to teach volunteering outside of the holidays as well. If it becomes a thing you only do at Christmas, the message will get lost.
Lastly, don’t force your child to volunteer. A 16 year-old, who has broken up with a partner, has declared you a horrible mother because you want to take food to Mrs. Jones down the street will make your life miserable if you force them to go. It’s one thing to teach them responsibility and compassion. If you push it too much, they could end up resenting volunteering and avoid it at all costs.