Volunteering makes a big difference in the world. But those who help others also experience benefits—especially kids.
Volunteering with children teaches them responsibility, gratitude, and compassion. It also develops social skills, helps raise self-esteem, and teaches kids that giving is more important than receiving (helping to minimize the ‘gimmies’).
According to a study from World Volunteer Web, “Youth who volunteer are less likely to engage in risky behavior, are more likely to feel connected to their communities, and tend to do better in school.”
So how do we instill the importance of giving back to kids? Here are 6 ways to get started volunteering with children:
Start out simple. Making it easy to give back is important, especially with younger kids. This can mean mowing an elderly neighbor’s yard, donating clothes to a homeless shelter, or giving food to a food drive.
Make it a family affair. Not only will volunteering together provide quality family time, but tackling projects together may be more fun and less daunting. It always helps to lead by example.
Let them choose. Kids often have issues they are passionate about or certain groups they would like to help. Letting them follow their own path to giving back will only make them more excited and engaged in their projects. For example, little animal lovers might enjoy volunteering at or donating to an animal shelter or rescue organization.
Pick a charity. There are so many great causes out there to support. Kids can pinpoint an issue and then help by donating or volunteering. Parents can match their kid’s donation to show that they’re willing to help out, too. CharityNavigator.org and Give.org feature a wide variety of charities to choose from.
Keep it local. Participating in community projects such as cleaning up parks or helping the homeless is a great way for kids to immediately see the impact their work. It also gives them a sense of community and the importance of helping those around you. VolunteerMatch.org is a really great tool to find all kinds of ways to give back locally.
Show them the results. As mentioned above, volunteering locally quickly shows kids the results of their work. If they donate to a charity, you can usually check the organization’s website for updates on how their donation helped.
To get started, consider helping an elderly neighbor, cleaning up a local park, donating clothes to a homeless shelter, or giving to a food drive. For more inspiration, this K12 student serves as a great example of giving back.