Parent Volunteers: 3 Ways Parents Can Volunteer With Kids
giving back • my world • raising giving children • tips for giving back
One way to raise giving children is to help them see the needs of others and the easiest way to see needs in your community is to get involved. However, picking an age-appropriate volunteer activity can be challenging, especially with little ones.
3 Ways a Parent Can Volunteer
Consider these three tips when searching for volunteer opportunities for your family:
Consider Your Child’s Interests
As tempting as it may be to schedule a volunteer activity you enjoy, look at your child’s interests to help determine an appropriate place to serve. I love the outdoors and a few years ago, I thought it would be fun to take garbage bags to a nearby park and have a mini park clean-up.
The idea sounded fabulous, but I didn’t take into account that my kids would see the playground and have no interest in the pick-up. I also missed the fact that my kids would view picking up trash as a required chore, while other kids at the playground had the time of their lives on the monkey bars.
Pay attention to the activities your children enjoy and combine their passions with service. Does your daughter love animals or create art? Maybe watching a neighbor’s dog or making Valentines for hospital patients would be a perfect experience. Does your teenage son enjoy working with his hands? Maybe assisting an elderly neighbor fix a broken lawnmower would be viewed as both helpful and fun.
Consider Your Child’s Abilities
I signed-up my daughter and I to work a two hour shift at a local food-bank. Two hours seemed like a reasonable amount of time until twenty minutes into our shift when my eight year-old started asking if we would be given water and a snack on our break. A break? Was she kidding? We were just putting cans in boxes and working at a very slow pace. Two hours of sorting canned goods is nothing for me, but the task proved too long and tedious for my eight-year-old.
Think about the limits your child possesses and don’t dismiss things such as attention span or physical limitations.
Consider Kid-Friendly Organizations
Let’s face it, not everyone is going to see the value of bringing a young child to assist with volunteering. That’s why some organizations set age-requirements and suggested guidelines for those who volunteer. Make a point to follow them! Seek out organizations that recognize the importance of education and experience over productivity.
It takes more effort to incorporate your child’s interests and abilities when scheduling a volunteer activity for your family, but by doing so and also searching out child-friendly organizations, your kids will have a positive volunteer experience that will leave your family longing to help others again.
What tips can you add to this list to ensure volunteering with children is both helpful and instills the desire to volunteer again?
Photo courtesy of flickr.
Can one beyond blessed family move from addicted to themselves to devoted to others? The author of this post shares honestly at Amy L. Sullivan about her family’s attempt to become less me, me, me focused and more others centered. Amy writes for print and online publications and is also writing a nonfiction book about serving others.
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