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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Heartfelt Summer: 7 Ways That Kids Grow Through Volunteering

Photo by Rikki's Refuge (Flickr)

With the season in full swing, there is more time to enjoy together as a family! We hike, we swim, we trek, we cook new meals, we garden, and we relax! Not only do my girls dive into many playful adventures, I volunteer at the local summer camp. Volunteering unites my passion for play and my dedication to helping out however I can. Volunteering is so enriching for kids, too! Let's explore the benefits.

Volunteering Deepens Compassion and Understanding

As parents, we instinctively shelter our kiddos from pain and suffering, but families working together can a dazzling difference. Volunteering helps children develop a deep, realistic understanding of the they world live in. As they collect towels for the animal shelter, serve meals at the soup kitchen, or play games at a veterans' hospital, kids cultivate gratitude for their blessings and become more compassionate, empathetic, and understanding individuals.

Volunteering Improves Social Skills

Many children struggle with communication and self-expression. Volunteering provides a proactive platform where they can interact with others and learn to use their voices for good. As they meet individuals from a medley of backgrounds, they will foster positive connections and discover just how vital sharing can be to the livelihood of the community. Plus, it will boost their confidence to play a role in uplifting others!

Volunteering Builds a Strong Work and Personal Ethic

As they pack food boxes for deployed soldiers, walk eager pups at the local shelter, pick up litter from the local park, or hand out water bottles at an outdoor fundraiser, kids are learning the value of hard work. They discover that putting in effort and making a difference towards a cause they believe in is fulfilling in ways beyond profit. This will compel them to seek out wholesome careers sparked by their individual passions in the future.

Volunteering Can Become a Lifelong Habit

If you want your kids to grow up and become lifelong volunteers, introduce them to volunteering now and make it a regular addition to your family's schedule. A new habit can take up to 66 days to form, reports University College London, so repeat exposure is beneficial. As your kids foster homeless dogs, help neighbors with weekly lawn care, and teach crafts with preschoolers after school, they establish a lifelong habit and love for volunteering.

Volunteering Introduces Passions or Hobbies

Adam Werbach began volunteering with the Sierra Club when he was in second grade. In middle and high school, he founded the forerunner of the Sierra Student Coalition. By age 23, Adam became the youngest president of the Sierra Club. Your kids may discover fulfilling and empowering passions and hobbies through volunteering, too! Maybe they'll cultivate a love for teaching as they supervise preschoolers after school or develop a penchant for politics as they campaign for a local candidate. By inviting your kids to explore different avenues of volunteering, they can find what inspires them while helping others.

Volunteering Grows a Strong Moral Compass

As parents, we want to guide our children towards compassionate decisions and ethical attitudes. Volunteering can help establish a strong, active moral compass within children. It opens their eyes to the realities and wonders of the world. By providing aid to people, animals, and causes, your kids learn to value all life and treat every living creature with dignity and respect. They will understand that positive change is worth the effort, and that we can move mountains if we work together. There is an endless variety of ways to make a difference; find a cause that resonates with you as a family!

Volunteering Connects Communities

It's awfully easy to get caught up in the hectic momentum of daily life, especially with kids on board. By dedicating just a bit of time to volunteering, you can reconnect with the community and meet like-hearted people. My daughters have met some fantastic friends through weekly dog-walking at the local shelter! Build a house together with Habitat for Humanity, bake cookies for a neighbor's fundraiser, or knit blankets for newborns in your local hospital.

These are just a few benefits to volunteering for kids! Ready to get started? Here is a helpful guide to getting the whole family involved. Already an avid volunteer? Tweet me some pictures and stories! I'd love to hear all about it!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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