It’s never too early to start helping others. That’s why it’s a great idea to volunteer with your kids, helping them develop a lifelong commitment to giving to those in need. In order to make the most of the experience (and help your child understand what volunteering is all about) follow these tips:
- Be a role model. It’s no secret that your kids want to grow up to be just like you. The best way to teach them about the spirit of giving is to exemplify it yourself.
- Make it a part of your family’s schedule. This turns volunteering into a fun family event and encourages everyone to give back frequently.
- Pick a volunteer activity that’s relatable to your child. Doing something like packaging supply boxes for tsunami relief on the other side of the world is awesome, but your child might not be able to conceptualize what a tsunami even is. If you really want your volunteer experience to hit home, try to find a cause that is relatable and has tangible results. For example, donating toys to a local foster home.
- Start small. Adult volunteering often involves physical labor. There’s definitely nothing wrong with showing kids the benefits of hard work, but it’s also okay to start small and with something enjoyable. Taking puppies for walks at the local animal shelter is every bit as valuable as cleaning up a park, and it might be an easier way to introduce your child to the world of volunteering.
- Create your own opportunities. It can be challenging to find volunteer opportunities for young children. If you can’t work directly with a project or organization, come up with alternatives, like a lemonade stand fundraiser for a local charity.
- Talk about it. This is the most crucial part of volunteering with your kids. Have frequent discussions about what they’re doing, who it helps and why volunteers are needed. If the activity has a more abstract result (like global relief) try to come up with ways to make it easy for your child to understand.
- Give them input. As you do more volunteering together, your kids will start to develop attachments to certain organizations and activities. Let them be a part of deciding where your family will donate its time.