Discovery Point Blog
Volunteering with Kids: Making a Difference at Any Age
Teaching empathy and social responsibility to our children is just as important as teaching them how to tie their shoes and brush their teeth. Sometimes, though, these more abstract lessons get put on the back burner.
As a busy parent, you may want to give your child the opportunity to participate in community-oriented activities and volunteering. However, all too often, you can feel like you don’t have the time or resources to figure out how.
Take a look at our tips for helping your child engage in a cause they care about and make giving back a practice they take with them into adulthood.
How to Get Started with Volunteering
Volunteering isn’t always something you can just wake up on a Saturday morning and decide to do. It often requires a bit of advanced planning and a touch of research. Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
- Keep it simple.
When it comes to doing good deeds, sometimes we feel the need to go overboard. Remember that even the smallest actions can make a big impact.
Don’t feel like you have to register for a variety of activities all at one time. Instead, think about some first steps you and your child can take to benefit your community and find ways to help people in your own social circle.
- Make it a habit.
Keep the good vibes and the spirit of service going by making volunteering a habit rather than a one-time thing. Incorporating volunteering into your family’s lifestyle will go a long way in shaping a charitable mindset in your children.
Some ideas for regular volunteering opportunities include joining a community clean-up each month, spending a few hours at the local food bank, or volunteering at a local senior center or nursing home. Check out this link for more ideas.
- Be a role model.
Children mimic adults, which can be both hilarious and a bit aggravating. But this modeling behavior can also be used for good.
Even if your child is too young to start helping out themselves, seeing you and other adults in their lives spend time helping others will normalize this behavior and make them want to help out too.
- Get interest-specific.
There’s no reason to have your child spend time doing something they’re not passionate about when there are so many different ways you can volunteer. For example, if your child loves animals, volunteers are often needed at animal shelters. If they’re crazy about the great outdoors, gear your volunteer efforts towards environmentally friendly activities. If they spend all their free time doing arts and crafts, check the senior centers in your area to see if a social craft hour is a possibility.
- Seek out child-focused organizations
Parents with young children may be frustrated to realize many volunteer organizations limit participation to a certain age group, often 13+ or even 18+. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities out there for school-age and even younger children to take advantage of.
Check out Project Giving Kids for a start. This nonprofit was started by a mom of four who wanted to make it easier to find volunteer opportunities for kids. With everything from live Zoom workshops to a mobile app dedicated to discovering volunteer activities, this site has a ton of resources for parents of young children.
Simple Volunteering Ideas for Kids
Looking for a few simple ideas to get your feet wet in the volunteering world? Here are some of our kid-friendly favorites:
- Join a Community Cleanup. Many communities host their own cleanup days, and organizations like Keep America Beautiful also organize events. That being said, your family can easily do this simple task on your own. Grab a bag and head outside to start making your neighborhood a cleaner space!
- Help Out at a Local Farm. Many local farms are facing rising operating costs and could use a helping hand. Head over to the Local Harvest website to learn more about how your family can help farms in your area. Not only will your child experience the rewards of giving back, but they’ll also get an up-close look at how their favorite fruits and veggies are grown.
- Assist a Mutual Aid Network. Mutual aid networks have been a lifeline for many families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Try seeking out mutual aid networks in your community or register for an app like Nextdoor for opportunities to help your neighbors when they’re in need.
- Go Beyond Volunteering. Teaching your child about the world around them is a big part of volunteering. Sometimes first-hand experience can go a long way in sparking your child’s interest in helping others. Exposure to new experiences through field trips around town or watching educational documentaries as a family can be just as beneficial as volunteering for growing minds, inspiring them to create change on their own.
Getting involved is always a journey worth embarking on. When you help your little one see the difference one person can make in the lives of others, you can foster in them a lifelong commitment to making the world a better place.