Teaching children the importance of volunteering

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Tracy Martin Turgeon from The Children’s Workshop shared the following benefits of community learning projects for your children:

We can initiate this process by starting early and as their primary adult role models, begin by setting a good example for our children. If your family and early education schools are involved in volunteering in the community, then it will become second nature to your children.

We can all agree on the intrinsic value of getting your children, families and early-ed groups involved in a hands-on Service Learning Project in their communities. Think about what a wonderful impact and ripple affect we can have across our cities, states and nation, if we all get involved!Why and what benefits come from your children participating in service learning projects in their communities…

  • Helps you make new friends and increases self esteem/self confidence -What are the benefits? The benefits can be amazing when a family/school gets involved in a service learning project, no matter what the capacity. But a great side effect of volunteering is that it allows children to spread their wings and forge new relationships with other children and adults in their community. This allows them to strengthen their ties to the community and in doing so, increases their support network. This trickledown effect can have amazing outcomes for your children. It improves their self-esteem and self worth and they tend to do better in school.
  • Children can implement positive change – Firstly, children learn what a difference they can make in the lives of other children and their families. That what they do can change someone’s life for the better. For instance, if their project includes reaching out to a neighbor in need and take some time every week with them, especially if they have no nearby family, they can really make that person feel loved and valued. This small gesture, by our young children, can really show them that they do matter and can make a difference in this world.
  • Awareness of your community – Also having young people get out there in their communities can teach a child about diversity and they can learn that there are many children and their families in their own neighborhoods that maybe struggling with issues that are out of their control. So, young children can learn to have empathy and share their opportunities with other families.
  • Makes you happy – Many studies have shown that assisting and helping others leads to smiles and feeling good about yourself… in turn it builds self-esteem. And again, these small actions encourage positive outcomes for children and their communities. Service Learning has these wonderful ripple effects.

What are some ideas for service learning projects…

  • Jump in feet first – It can be as simple as having your children rake the leaves, take in/out the garbage, or shovel snow for someone in the neighborhood who may fine these tasks difficult. The younger ones can draw a picture/send a card for a sick person. And if they just do these small chores/gestures without being asked; the child will feel good about themselves and want to continue.
  • Nursing Home – contact your area nursing home to setup a collaboration with your Early Education School. This community partnership can offer a great opportunity for Service Learning within your group. For instance, you can become pen pals with the residents and students, provide entertainment in the form of a talent show, or organize a monthly visit to create forums for cooking, crafts or reading buddies opportunities. The possibilities are endless when you start to think out of the box.
  • Food/Coat Drives – There are so many ways for kids to get involved…with the holidays coming up the little ones can donate can goods and non-perishable items to help families have a wonderful holiday. Let them pick the items that they want to donate so they feel like they are helping. Let them choose some items that make their Thanksgiving or x-mas meal special and they can share that with others.

    Another great idea is to simply have a coat drive and get everyone involved.

  • Join a cause – Get your family involved in cause that is close to your heart. Unfortunately, with all the weather-related disasters recently, there are many organizations in need of our support. Here at the Children’s Workshop and the Children’s Workshop Foundation we are currently partnering with the organization United for Puerto Rico, as our service learning project, by collection gently worn used and new shoes to help raise funds for those families that have been devastated by the recent hurricanes. Our campaign is running through Dec. 15th and all shoes can be dropped off at any of our 20 TCW or CWF locations.
  • Make a Donation – You can have your children donate their gently used clothes and toys to charitable organizations such as toys for tots, Salvation Army and so forth… Further, you can get them involved in all sorts of drives…coat drives, toy drives, peanut butter drive and food drives. Let your children know that they can start these drives at their schools and early learning schools. Tell them or their parents to talk to their teachers about getting one started at your center or school. Let your children know that they can make things happen and can really have a good time doing it. It’s fun to see that something that you envisioned has come to life and really can be successful.

Please let your children know that the ideas are limitless for getting involved in your community and it doesn’t have to be a big endeavor. It can be as small as taking the time out of your day to have a conversation with a neighbor or running a car wash to raise money for a friend or community person. Just get involved…the benefits are boundless!!!

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