Teaching Children to Volunteer this Holiday Season
Guest Post by Emily Patterson
Raising your children to care for others is a big job for some parents. Most parents want their children to consider the needs of others in addition to taking care of themselves. This selfless attitude must be introduced at an early age so it comes naturally to your children as they grow older. Finding an opportunity that means something to your family can provide an even bigger impact on your children.
Before you find a volunteer opportunity for you and your family, you need to consider why you want to volunteer. If you are just hoping to volunteer for appearance purposes, you aren’t doing your children a favor by teaching them to volunteer just so you look good. Instead, make a list of the values you treasure as a person. These are the values you want to teach your children. The values you want to teach can also help you choose a project to pursue.
Once you know what types of values you want to teach your children through volunteering opportunities, you must select an opportunity. If you can, you should choose one that is close to you and your family. For instance, if you have close family in the military, volunteering to help soldiers may be the best choice. Make a list of organizations or opportunities with which you are familiar to get an idea of where to start.
After you organize a list of possibilities, seek out a volunteer organization that works with child volunteers. Some organizations don’t allow children to help with volunteer opportunities. Therefore, it is up to you to find one that will allow your children to go with you and lend a hand. Interview an organization employee to seek the answers to all of your questions before you bring your children in. The organization may also be able to give you more ideas for where you and your family can volunteer.
When you have a volunteer opportunity arranged, it is time to present the idea to your children. Tell your children what you will be doing and why. Your children will likely have plenty of questions for you, including why some people need help. Be prepared for these questions so you can answer them in an age-appropriate manner. If you need help answering questions, ask the organization for ideas. Show your children that they can help those who don’t have everything they have. For instance, if you donate toys to a local shelter or children’s hospital, your children would feel sympathy for the other children if you tell them that these children don’t have toys to play with.
The holidays provide a great time to volunteer with your children to encourage them to care for others who are less fortunate. It also broadens their awareness for others in the community and world that are less fortunate. Children are apt to grow up as more compassionate children if they learn to care for others at a young age.
Don’t stop teaching your child to volunteer after the holiday season though; there are ample opportunities to help others throughout the course of the year. Perhaps you and your family could make it your new years resolution to volunteer throughout the whole year!
Submitted by Emily Patterson on behalf of Primrose Schools Day Care. Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Emily has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering. Primrose is currently raising awareness for Feeding America and their efforts to help Americans in need. To join in, visit their Facebook page where you can donate $1 by liking it or $2 by sharing.