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How Parents Can Encourage Volunteering

Tips for parents on getting kids to volunteer in the community

Helping out in the community can make your neighborhood safer, and it can be fun and beneficial to the people who do the work, especially children. Volunteering can help children develop positive relationships with adults and other children and help them to develop such skills as cooperation, empathy, and empowerment. And it can show them that they have the power to make positive change. All of these traits will help children positively handle the tough situations they face growing up.

You can help your children get involved in the community. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • With your child, arrange to clean up a local park or school ground. Pick up trash (don't forget to wear gloves!) and plant bushes, trees, and other plants.
  • Help your children to create a mural recognizing the contributions of everyone in your community. Include people of all ages, professions, ethnicities, religions, and physical and mental abilities. Find a public place that will let you display it or donate a wall to the project.
  • Arrange for your child to create an exhibit at his or her school or your local library. It could be about a different culture, a current problem at school such as bullying, or anything that your child is interested in.
  • Accompany children to a retirement home to spend time with the elderly doing what they like. Some possibilities are to play board games with residents, sing or perform for them, or hand out baked goodies or artwork.
  • Read How McGruff Became the Crime Dog with your children to motivate them to get involved in crime prevention, like McGruff.
  • Have your children think up ideas about how they can help. Ask them what issues most concern them, and who they would most like to help. With them, brainstorm ideas they would most enjoy.

If you work with groups of children as a teacher, coach, scout troop leader, or in any other way, consider leading a service learning project. These projects get children involved in improving the community as a group and offer great ways to learn outside the classroom. To find out how you can arrange one and for project ideas, read How to Help McGruff!, available online or for purchase.

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