Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Teaching Children Through Service

The world is often referred to as a global village because everyone is connected in one way or another. This is a vital reason that it’s critical to care about the struggles of others and what is happening to the environment. Because of these issues, community service initiatives have been created to provide solutions and create awareness — and every day, people decide to participate as a way of doing their part.

If you have kids, teaching them the importance of community service should be on your agenda. It’s just one way to make them more aware of the world around them, and it may even help them develop a sense of gratitude for the privileges they have on top of giving them a sense of satisfaction.

Why It’s Important

As mentioned earlier, community service is a way of giving back to the world, even if you’re only volunteering once a year. It’s a great medium to teach your kids acts of service, which the world needs more of if it wants to achieve greater social development. While this may be easy for you to understand, how do you get your kids to buy into the idea, too?

Before you can get your kids to be enthusiastic about community service, they should understand what it’s all about and why it’s important. You could explain to them what a difference community service initiatives have made in the world around them by sourcing real-life examples — was there a community park built in your town through volunteer work and donations? What about local charities, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and so on?

Express the importance of not only taking from, but also contributing to their community and environment. This will help them understand that everyone has a responsibility and role to play in leaving the planet in a better state than they found it. Even after explaining all of this, your kids may still wonder what the point is of them doing community service, at which point you can explain some of the benefits such as them deriving personal satisfaction from it. Also, seeing communities they live in strengthened because of contributions they make can give them a sense of pride.

Put It Into Context

Once you’ve explained why community service is pertinent, help your kids further by putting things into context, which includes helping them see how community projects or initiatives solve real-life problems. Getting your kids to volunteer is also a way to educate them on important social justice issues in a very hands-on manner. For instance, by volunteering at a shelter, they could become more aware of issues such as homelessness and poverty.

Similarly, you could educate them about the importance of natural resources they consume daily and what would happen if we ran out of them. Aside from inspiring them to want to be a part of the solution, it could lead to them striving for a green career in the future if their interests continue to develop.

Pick Their Interests

When choosing initiatives to get your kids involved in, why not focus on their interests? This is a way to make it more of a personal experience for them and something they look forward to. If, for instance, your kids are crazy about animals, you could have them volunteer at a pet charity, or maybe a zoo. If they’re old enough, give them the task of looking for charities online and choosing the one they gravitate to the most. Seeing as there are around 1.3 million charitable organizations in America, there are plenty to choose from.

A few regularly suggested kid-friendly places to volunteer or here at IFCS. There are also nursing and retirement homes, which are a good way to foster cross-generational connections and help your kids learn from people of different ages. If there is a common interest that the entire family has, then this is also a great opportunity for bonding. Contributing to a cause you’re all passionate about can create sacred memories and unique experiences for all of you.

Make Them Aware of the Impact

Community service shouldn’t be presented to your kids as something they need to simply tick off their list. Instead, let them be aware of the impact they’re making on both the community and their development. Perhaps do this by getting regular updates from the organization they’re volunteering at about how their contributions are helping.

Another important thing to place the spotlight on is the impact volunteering is having on your kids. Praise them for ways in which it’s aiding their personal development. Some key skills they may be learning include responsibility, sacrifice, and tolerance of people from eclectic or other different backgrounds. Even more importantly, they could be picking up skills that will help them in the labor market such as teamwork, leadership, and communication. While school and afterschool programs are a great way of helping your kids learn, real-life lessons are just as important.

Getting kids started early when it comes to service can give them a great head start in life. Not only are they exposed to social injustices from an early age, but they also see the power they have to make the world a better place to live in.

Tim Esterdahl

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Key Sponsors

Integrated Family Community Services is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Financial Accountability

IFCS’ Tax ID # 84-0579740