Volunteering with Kids
No matter what your age, volunteering in your community has untold benefits. A commitment to giving back is one of the most precious gifts you can give the next generation. When you start volunteering at a young age, there’s even more time for the benefits to accumulate.
Benefits of Youth Volunteering
- Connect with Community
Youth who volunteer feel more connected to their community, adapt better to unfamiliar social situations, have better social skills, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior.
- Build Character
Volunteering helps build a good work ethic and a sense of selflessness.
- Live Longer
Research shows a strong relationship between volunteering and living longer, healthier lives.
- Learn New Skills
People who volunteer often acquire new skills through hands-on experience.
Volunteering is a great way to meet people and discover career opportunities.
- Build Trust and Respect
Youth who volunteer have the opportunity to work with older generations. When everyone works toward a common goal, it can build mutual trust and understanding which benefits everyone involved.
Key Tips for Volunteering with Kids
- Start Today
Begin volunteering with your kids when they’re young for the easiest, highest impact experience.
- Choose Age Appropriate Opportunities
Not all volunteer opportunities are great for kids. Look into each opportunity carefully, and ask specific questions about expectations.
- Don’t Link Volunteering to the Holidays Alone
Each community needs help year-round, not just on special occasions when everyone’s feeling charitable.
- Give Your Child Options
Involve your child in the decision making process about where to volunteer. Gather a few ideas, present them to your child, and let him/her pick one.
- Get Excited
Make volunteering fun, not a chore by using statements like, "We get to volunteer today!" vs. "We volunteer because it’s the right thing to do."
- Bring Buddies
Allow your older child to bring their best friend along. Not only does this benefit the friend, but it can increase the likelihood than a reluctant child will enjoy himself.
Resources for Families
- The Littlest Volunteers by Danielle Speckhart
Created with the help of parents and teachers, this book is a fun and interactive way to introduce children to volunteerism.
- Stand in My Shoes by Bob Sornson Ph.D.
This book teaches young children the value of noticing how other people feel.
- Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson
This feel-good story inspires and celebrates a world full of ordinary deeds.
- The Berenstain Bears: Think of Those in Need by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Mama Bear teaches children how to simplify their cluttered lives and help those in need.