Parents and guardians typically begin volunteering with their families as a chance to have fun together (away from the requirements of work and home) and pay-it-forward to others that may not be as fortunate. It’s something you choose to do to establish good roots and set examples. As a whole family, volunteering is an opportunity to strengthen your relationships, physical, mental and emotional health, and establish teamwork. You explore and create memories together, and support each other. Hopefully, you’re reflecting together, getting to know one another better, and helping each other get to know themselves better too.
For young children in the family, it’s important to find ways to give them a brain and social boost, because learning through exploration of senses and actions is important at these times. So it’s a good thing that the act of volunteering can help fine tune motor skills and more, as well as help them learn valuable life lessons to build on as they grow, like where their food comes from or how to properly care for animals and other living things.
As the kids in the family become teens and young adults, it becomes even more imperative that volunteering is important. You’ll hear about required service hours, and college application questions as you go. But it always helps to think about the why with such prompts. To put it simply, continued exploration and experience – and great stories (a.k.a., character). The skills a teen learns through volunteering go deeper than when they were young children. Those motor skills can become more articulate and focused on talents. Life lessons likely hit home harder, possibly guiding their passions as they realize their deeper connection with the people, places, and things around them – not to mention their personal power to do good. They begin to shape opinions about what is happening in society and why they feel that way, as well as what they want to do about it.
Think About It: Today, a five year old may say “I want to be a chef.” Later, they may become a high school senior saying “I want to be a nutritionist because I want to teach underserved kids about the origins and benefits of healthy food, and how to prepare it” to their college admissions counselor. What would get them to this point? How will you get started?