As a parent and play advocate, I've discovered over the years that volunteering helps kids learn social skills, develop positive self-worth, and make a difference in their communities. It's also fun. I never pressure my girls to help others, but I do encourage them to participate in volunteer activities they enjoy. My favorite 10 volunteer ideas for children prompt kids to use their little helping hands for good. Your kids might enjoy helping others in one or more of these ways, too.
Donate Unwanted Toys and Clothing
Are your kids' closets or playroom overflowing with toys, clothes, and games? Encourage your children to give away their gently used items and help others. They can set up a toy or clothing swap with neighbors or fill as many bags as possible for the local thrift store or homeless shelter.
Host a Food Drive
Hunger affects millions of Americans, including people in your community. Help your children end hunger with a food drive that benefits your local food bank.
Babysit Younger Kids
Both of my girls love kids, but they're still too young for paid babysitting jobs. That's why I encourage them to volunteer their services. While I supervise, they organize and host play dates in our backyard for the neighborhood kids and learn valuable skills while having fun.
Clean Up the Environment
One of my daughters is passionate about protecting the environment, so she walks around our neighborhood every week or two and picks up litter. Your kids could also pick up litter and debris from a local park, playground, or cemetery.
Make a Grandfriend
Kids who spend time with senior citizens have fun, make memories, and learn valuable social and life skills. Adopt a grandfriend from your neighborhood or local senior center. Your kids can play games, do crafts, and share stories with their new friends.
Repair Broken Items
Last summer, one of my nephews discovered a talent for bike repair. Now, he opens his garage once a month and fixes his neighbors' bikes for free. Do your kids have a talent like sewing, computer repair, or carpentry that they can put to use?
If your kids love animals, let them become a pet foster parent. The short-term commitment gives your children the opportunity to care for and love a pet, and it could save an animal's life.
Help the Neighbors
When one of our neighbors had a baby last month, my girls and I made her a meal. Since then, my children have helped neighbors unload groceries, walk dogs, and gather mail. What neighborhood needs could your kids meet?
Grow and Share Plants
On Facebook last week, a friend posted pictures of the herbs, flowers, and vegetables her kids started from seeds. They'll give those plants to their neighbors, teachers, and friends this spring. What a fun idea!
Do a Sibling's Chores
I woke up yesterday to the sound of the vacuum, and to my surprise, my younger daughter had decided to do her sister's chore and vacuum the playroom! I love that my girls have learned to serve each other occasionally by voluntarily doing each other's chores.
Every child can benefit from the life skills and lessons volunteering provides. How will you encourage your kids to have little helping hands today?
Find more about the author: Kim Hart