As part of your parenting regimen, do you hope to instill a greater sense of community involvement in your children? In this guest post, Astrid Halliday is sharing tips about how and why to volunteer with children near home and even while on travel.
Volunteering is often identified as something for young adults, going off on their gap years before university. Nonetheless, the number of families volunteering with young children reaping the rewards of volunteering together is increasing.
Progressively more families are choosing to schedule family time away from the screens and distractions of everyday life, instead opting to contribute to their communities. Charities and organisations are also responding flexibly, recognizing that people of all ages, from toddlers to retirees, have lots to offer. Yes, even toddlers are now volunteering!
Introducing volunteering as a hobby at a young age not only teaches the importance of helping others, it teaches compassion, tolerance, gratitude and community responsibility.
How to Volunteer With Children
Build It Up As Fun
Many parents feel that getting their children to volunteer, away from computer games and out in the real world, is near impossible. A great way of getting children excited about volunteering is by approaching it with the idea that it will be the most fun your kids have ever had! If they believe that what they’re doing will be amazing, it’ll be easier to get them on board.
Incorporate Your Children’s Interests
Explore your children’s interests and try to volunteer within a familiar environment. Naturally this will help engage your child. For example: if they are interested in animals or keep pestering you for their own pet, find a local animal shelter looking for extra hands.
Make It Routine
Schedule volunteering and make it part of your weekly routine. It comes as no surprise to parents that children are happiest with routine in their lives, rather than sporadically announcing that they’re going to help at a charity.
Cheap or Free
Volunteering as a family doesn’t need to be expensive. It doesn’t cost to volunteer locally and is a great free way to keep the kids busy on the weekends, rather than paying to go to the cinema or shopping in town.
Children may gain even more from volunteering abroad learning from the culture, working alongside their parents as peers, making new friends amongst local children and learning a new language.
Many volunteer organisations welcome family groups, they can also help you with choosing the most suitable project and every aspect of your trip preparation, right up to travel.
Resources to Help Start Volunteering With Children
Useful websites for sourcing volunteering:
- WWOOF (World Wide of Organic Farming), many host families have children themselves and welcome volunteers to bring their children to socialise.
- Original Volunteers, I have volunteered with this organisation many times, when I wan in Ghana with them there was a family (a mother and her 7 and 11 year old sons) they were all getting involved, the two sons helped me paint a classroom.
- HelpStay, A database full of independent volunteering options, you can filter out any option which don’t accept families to make searching easier.
- Washington Trails Association, perfect for families wishing to stay in the US, learn and experience life outdoors.
- Volunteer South America, a list of different volunteering opportunities in South America.
Projects typically love having volunteers from a mixture of all ages, but it is worth checking when you make your initial enquiry.
It is not just projects and charities who benefit from volunteers. Families bond and communication is improved when helping together as a team. Encouraging children to volunteer at any age looks great on college applications and resumes for the future. Parents can also gain, whether volunteering abroad or locally, it can be nice to step out of your comfort zone, into an unfamiliar environment which can help free the mind from the usual work/life stressors.
Guest Author Bio
Astrid Halliday is a keen traveler and an aspiring writer. She wants to share her passion of travelling the world in a meaningful way with others.