Guest Blogger: Small Hands, Big Impact

Volunteering Can Start Young
By: Kathleen Thomas
The majority of modern-minded parents are concerned about raising their children to be compassionate and socially responsible. However, many people are unsure of how to introduce their children to the concept of altruism. Experts recommend that parents help their children become involved in volunteer activities at a even before they begin a day care program.

According to Mrs. Smith, it is important to instill in children a year-round habit of “giving back” to the community. Volunteerism is an integral part of character building in today’s youth. Through volunteer acts, children will learn how to positively influence society on a global level. Even small children can actively participate in community enhancement activities. 

There are four excellent ways for parents to help children learn the importance of meaningful volunteerism. 

Start by clearly explaining the reasons for wanting your children to become involved in volunteer causes. Helping the community with your children is an excellent way to demonstrate important values. Instead of choosing volunteer activities that are convenient, pick some that are meaningful to your entire family. 

You should also talk to your children about the importance of altruism. Explain to them the difference they can make as volunteers. Because young children tend to ask a lot of questions, make your answers easy to understand. 

And be sure to pick volunteer tasks that are age-appropriate for your children. Even preschool-age children are old enough to volunteer. Children of this age can follow simple instructions, and they are able to participate in group activities. Remember, at a very young age, a child does not possess a broad scope of the world. Their vision of the world centers around their school, neighborhood and home. Make sure the volunteer activities you choose stay within the expanse of their outlook on the world. 

When searching for volunteer organizations, choose those that are non-profit. There are several questions you can ask each organization in order ensure you are selecting the right opportunity: 

* Does the volunteer organization possess a history and experience level of effectively working with not only children but also families?
* Are staff members welcoming to children who wish to participate?
* Are there certain tasks designed specifically for children? 
* Does the organization show children simplistic examples of how young volunteers can make a positive difference through volunteer efforts?

In the end, it is clear that compassionate, empathetic children are more likely to become altruistic, socially responsible adults. Volunteer activities are the best way to foster these qualities in growing children, even those who are preschool age. Keep the above four steps in the forefront of your mind while developing a volunteer plan with your family.

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