Teaching children to volunteer

The following is from an online article in NewsOK which I have extracted to allow you to enjoy the ideas within it without the online adverts/surveys accompanying it.

6 simple ideas to encourage volunteering in young children! As a parent of three young children it resonates with me. At what age do we get our children attuned to volunteering, and how?

There is currently a lot of focus on programs that encourage volunteering for teenagers, as a means of developing life skills and usually with a thought for competing in the job market. But are there other ways to foster a genuinely altruistic nature and increased awareness at an earlier age, unencumbered from the thoughts about ‘what will this do for my University or career prospects’?

This article gives some very simple pointers for parents, carers and educators of young children. What idea could you adopt to get your children engaged in community volunteering?



“……. Thinking back now, we wish we had been more intentional about that, not because our children missed the idea of service to others, but because, as parents, we didn’t place enough emphasis on community volunteering.

But if you have, or work with, children, there’s still time for you! Where to begin?

These six ideas are from Laura Lewis Brown, writing for PBS Parents (www.pbs.org/parents).

She said a young child may not understand the meaning of the word “volunteering,” but those as young as 3 can learn the value of helping people and places in need. She offered ways to start a lifelong commitment to giving, not just at the holidays but year-round.

  1. Be a giving role model. Children love to copy their parents, so let them follow your lead as a volunteer.
  2. Find something fun. Community service doesn’t have to be a chore. Find something that interests your child or family.
  3. Find something easy. Volunteering doesn’t have to take up an entire day if you don’t want it to.
  4. Make it part of the family schedule. If you make it part of the family routine, you can instill the notion that your family values giving their time and helping hands to those in need.
  5. Create your own opportunity. Some parents struggle to find organizations that allow young children to participate as volunteers, but there are things you can do with children — even young ones. A few options include fundraising, such as a walkathon, a lemonade stand or bringing a UNICEF can with you when you trick-or-treat.
  6. Think beyond volunteering. Beyond traditional community service opportunities, take your children on a field trip to expose them to an important social issue, such as homelessness, animal rescue or saving the environment.

One idea that has been going on for 66 years is “trick or treat for UNICEF.” UNICEF is the United Nations Children’s Fund, which provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.

Children can order a coin collection box to take with them while trick-or-treating (Yes, that day is coming soon!). While taking in candy on Oct. 31, they can also take in coins, then send the money to UNICEF.

For more information, go to www.unicefusa.org/form/trick-or-treat/box-order.

If you take the initiative, you’ll be investing in the future of your kids and your community. And years from now, when someone asks you over dinner what you did to teach your children about volunteering, you’ll have a ready answer.

The article was written by Jim Priest, CEO of Sunbeam Services in the USA