As parents, we want our kids to grow up with a heart filled with gratitude and a lifelong commitment to giving. This requires diligent modeling and seeking opportunities for our children to practice being grateful and giving to others.
Service to others helps people locally and throughout the world, and volunteering is something we can model for our kids, do with our kids, and something our kids can even do on their own.
Here are five ways your own child can volunteer while learning and growing at the same time.
1. Read to Others
Yes, reading can be a form of volunteering! Your child could help out a younger student by reading to her or listening to the younger child read aloud. This can be done for a classmate, a church member, or a neighbor.
Another place that your child can volunteer her reading voice is at a senior living home. Many residents enjoy the company of hearing a child read aloud. It’s a way to help others and build personal reading stamina.
2. Write to Soldiers
Many people in the armed services serve away from their homes and have retired from service. Your child might enjoy initiating a card drive or letter writing campaign at his school or in the community to send to those currenlty serving or those who have served our country in the past.
Your child can connect with Operation Gratitude Letter Writing Program, which collects the letters and sends them to past and present service men and women. Organizing others to help with a community project and learning to write for an authentic purpose are just a few benefits to this type of project.
3. Create a Free Service
Have your child brainstorm a list of tasks that might be hard for others. Elderly neighbors could use help with mowing, raking, or shoveling snow. Perhaps some neighbors have to work on weekends and can’t walk their pets. Let your child choose a service she would like to offer others for free.
Your child can create posters to advertise her free service (which requires a little writing practice) and hang them in the neighborhood. Or, she can personally call people she knows and ask if they would like some help.
4. Volunteer at a Place That Helps Others
It’s always good for a child to see organizations that have a mission of giving. Your own place of employment may have volunteer days that your child could attend. Or, contact local agencies associated with churches or your local YMCA to see what volunteer opportunities are available for your child.
There is great power in kids seeing and working with other individuals to make a difference. When everyone works together so much can be accomplished and that is a great message for kids to understand.
5. Organize or Participate in a Drive
Around the holidays, there are many opportunities for different kinds of initiatives -- from coat drives to Thanksgiving food drives. Your child can shop for items to support these initiatives or create his own.
Creating a shopping list, sharing information about the drive, collecting and distributing supplies, and putting in the time to get it all done are valuable skills your child will learn.
All of these volunteer experiences can help your child interact with others, learn life lessons, and help those who are in need. It’s never too late to help your kids learn about being grateful and the joy of giving to others. For more tips on how to start volunteering, check out How and Why Your Child Should Start Volunteering, and don't miss our Parent Guide to Raising Kind & Compassionate Children.
Connect with Jodie Rodriguez at her site, Growing Book by Book.
Featured Photo Credit: © asiseeit /iStockphoto