If you’re like most American families, you spend more time in the car going back and forth to extracurricular activities than spending time at home with family. Time spent at home may feel like a rarity, and everyone might want to relax with screen time.
So, how do become more engaged as a family and more connected to your community? Volunteer.
Here are some benefits to getting your child involved in a volunteering opportunity in your community:
It’s Never Too Early to Start
When many of us think of volunteering, we might think it’s an activity reserved for retirees and people who have a lot of extra time on their hands. One of the great things about volunteering is that it’s never too early to start, meaning that there are many excellent opportunities for kids.
Improves Social Skills
It’s natural for kids to be shy and many children have a small social circle. Even if they are involved in extracurricular activities, they are probably only spending time with peers.
Volunteering in the community can help your child improve his or her social skills and learn how to engage with people of various backgrounds.
Learn to Think Beyond Themselves
Much like having a small social circle, many kids don’t think beyond themselves and their needs or wants. While this is considered “selfish” as an adult, it’s pretty normal for children.
When your child volunteers, whether he or she helps at an animal shelter or at the senior center, he or she will begin to think about the wants and needs of others. Kids who volunteer are able to see themselves as significant in the lives of others.
They recognize they have the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Improving Family Time
While encouraging your child to volunteer will benefit his or her social development, don’t overlook the ways it can benefit your family. Spending time together as a family, giving back to the community, can make you feel more connected.
Even if you have family members, who aren’t initially on board, if you can find an opportunity that everyone is interested in, it can feel less of a “chore” and more like a fun activity.
What kid can’t use a little boost of confidence? Wouldn’t you rather hear your child boast about feeding dogs at the animal shelter than how far he or she got on a video game?
Confident children are more likely to try new things rather than feeling hesitant. Children who serve others are less likely to participate in at-risk activities like using alcohol and drugs and skipping school.
Making Time to Volunteer
One of the most common reasons for not volunteering is not having enough time. People are, without a doubt, busy but reexamine your schedule.
Does your child need to be in all of his or her extracurricular activities? Can you sacrifice an hour of screen time?
Another wonderful thing about volunteering is that many opportunities allow you to make your own schedule; you can volunteer your time as little as a few hours a month to a few hours a week.
Can Be Helpful in the Future
Volunteer experience looks great on a resume or a college application, but avoid volunteering for the sole purpose of improving your child’s chances of a good college or job.
Matt is a regular contributor to the blog. One of his most popular blogs is Three Worthy Values to Instill in Your Children.