Summer is an ideal time to introduce your children to volunteering. Children (really people of all ages) who volunteer:

  • Learn empathy for others
  • Discover new interests and develop new skills
  • Learn teamwork
  • Discover the value of community
  • Learn to notice and respond to needs.

Volunteering means freely offering to do something. Look for opportunities for your children to participate in one-day or ongoing volunteer efforts. It can be a park cleanup, walking or running in a fundraiser, sorting food at a food bank, or collecting donated toys for a homeless shelter. No matter what activity you choose, talk to your children about the value of working with others to help others. Read stories from the news about the impact volunteers have. Check out Stacy C. Bauer’s book Inspiring Others. It tells the stories of twelve young changemakers using their talents and skills to change the world.

But remind your children that volunteering doesn’t need to be big, flashy, or covered on the news. Teach your family how to notice simple needs and help when they can. Do you have a neighbor who is ill and might need help walking their dog or weeding their garden? Is there trash in your neighborhood or around the school? Grab a trash bag and get to work. Can we help with recycling at school?

Start with a realistic goal: Can you volunteer for one hour each month as a family?