What's the Right Age for Children to Start Volunteering?
These days, even the youngest kids tend to spend their idle time on screens, watching videos or television, or playing video games. Many parents find it difficult to encourage their children to engage in physical activity or read a book, so the idea of doing work without compensation may not seem appealing at first. However, the rewards of volunteering are plentiful, and finding the right match for your child’s skills and passions actually makes community service enjoyable. Though formal opportunities can be difficult to find for younger children, a little creative thinking will allow you to find the right match.
Why To Volunteer
It is never too early to begin teaching children how to be helpful and kind citizens. Without even meaning to, parents show their offspring how to interact with others from the time they are born. By modeling helpful behavior and compassion towards those in need, adults can encourage children to follow suit and get involved in causes that matter to them. Volunteering as a family can be a bonding experience, and helping others together allows you all to share in a feeling of accomplishment and gratitude for what you have.
Helping those less fortunate allows children to appreciate what they have and see that one person or a small group of people can actually have an impact on the world. If they receive elementary school scholarships, it may be easy to explain how people help each other when they can. Making commitments and keeping them teaches responsibility without a formal lesson, using real-life natural consequences to show what happens when you help others. Kids who volunteer with those less fortunate than themselves are more likely to recognize and act against injustices they see at school or in their community. Working with others from different backgrounds teaches tolerances, communication, and planning skills that simply can’t be learned in even the most elementary school classrooms.
Ways Small Children Can Volunteer
Though finding a formal volunteer opportunity for elementary school children can be tricky, there are lots of ways that your youngest family members can help their communities. Consider your child’s skills, limitations, and interests, and look for ways to nurture them. Here are a few ways you can get started.
Collecting clothing, shoes, or coats for the homeless is a good activity that can involve even the youngest child. Preschoolers can help you decorate fliers to post in the neighborhood. Elementary school children can help sort items and letter fliers. Middle schoolers can go door to door or visit businesses to let them know what you are doing.
Planting trees or a garden combines physical activity, the great outdoors, and community service. Teach children that the earth can provide for its people with the help of kind-hearted individuals. Older kids can help distribute the food they have grown while younger kids love getting dirty!
You don’t need an organization to pick up litter! Select a spot that your children visit regularly, like a park or their elementary school playground, so that they can see their progress and follow up on their work
Children of all ages can make care packages for children in the hospital. You can let your children come up with their own ideas to help. You can make food together to include in such packages, or draw pictures, write stories, etc.
Adopt a zoo animal if your child is interested in wildlife. You can visit the zoo together and do research about the animal.
Collect food for families in need. Even the youngest child can understand how hard it must be to not get enough to eat.
The above ideas are just a starting point. In reality, the possibilities are endless. Let Quincy Catholic Elementary Schools know if you have an idea for a child-friendly service project or need some help expanding the scope of your efforts!