Growing up, it was just expected of us in my family that we were going to volunteer somewhere. At a young age, my mom began plugging my sisters and I into various roles at the local libraries, and then later to volunteer for church groups and other things of our own choosing. The importance of volunteering really stuck with us, and most of use who are over 18 (five now) have been a volunteer firefighter or EMT at one point or another, and have also done short term overseas mission work on a volunteer basis. I think that we can all agree that volunteering is both important for the individual and necessary for the community, yet volunteerism is on a huge downward spiral, and the lowest in NY in particular! I received the article below with an opportunity to repost and at first blew it off because I don't generally post stuff like this, but then I looked at it and decided that if even one person reads this and is motivated to have her family start volunteering, it will be worth it. :-) So read and enjoy!
Here are 4 Steps to getting your family interested in volunteering:
Step 1: Clarify your personal goals and motives for wanting to include your child in volunteer activities. Volunteering is a wonderful way to a share your values with your child. Pick a cause that is meaningful to you and your family rather than one that is simply convenient.
Step 2: Explain the importance of volunteerism and the contribution volunteers can make. A child's favorite question is "why?" Keep your answers simple and concrete. For example, if you are going to volunteer at the food bank, tell your child that "The food bank has lots of food for people who need it, and it will be our job to sort the food so that people are able to find what they need."
Step 3: Choose volunteer activities to do with your children that are age-appropriate. Children as young as three can begin volunteering. At this age they begin to enjoy participation in group activities and are better able to follow directions. Remember that a preschooler's concept of the world is not very large and is usually limited primarily to their home, neighborhood and school; therefore, it is important to keep the activity within the realm of what they can imagine. A few examples:
- Participate in "clean the park" activities. Be sure to have your child wear gloves.
- Take recyclables to recycling collection centers.
- Act as a companion to the elderly in retirement or assisted living homes. Simply listening to their stories and relieving their loneliness provides multiple benefits for the senior citizen and your child.
- Participate in local races and walks that raise money for a charitable cause that you think is important; most races have a shorter race for children.
- Sort food at a food bank. Be sure to confirm that children are welcome to volunteer and that it will be a safe environment.
Step 4: Find a child-friendly not-for-profit. Ask the following questions to help you select the that is right for your family:
- Does the organization have experience with and a history of successfully working with children and families? Will the organization provide me with a reference from another family who has volunteered with them?
- Will the organization staff welcome my child's participation?
- Is there a specific job that my child can do successfully? Who will show my children what to do?
- Are there special clothes or supplies needed for my child to volunteer with this organization?
- Does the organization conduct appropriate background screenings on its staff? Does the organization have insurance if there is an accident while your family is volunteering?
- Can the organization provide a concrete example that will help your child understand how his or her efforts benefit others?
To find these and other great tips for parents, check out Dr. Zurn's blog at DrZandme.com. For more information on Primrose Schools, visit www.primroseschools.com. You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter!
Thanks to MomSelect for sending me this article and the chance to win a prize which I can't even remember what it is for reposting this. :-)