08 Jan Volunteering with Children by Roxanne Jensen, Ed. Spec.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, parents with children under age 18 are more likely to volunteer than persons without children, 31.3 percent versus 22.6 percent (in the year 2015).
There are many benefits and reasons to volunteer with kids. First, interests and habits established in childhood are far more likely to transfer to adulthood. Making volunteering a priority throughout a child’s formative years establishes volunteering as an important part of their future identity. Volunteering also increases empathy. Working to enhance the lives of others creates openings for families to discuss how others feel. Additionally, giving to others fosters a sense of gratitude and appreciation. By seeing the challenges others face, children gain a deeper appreciation for their own situation. Finally, volunteering provides opportunities to increase cultural competence and experience diversity. The more we encourage children to expand their network of social circles their understanding of varying perspectives becomes wider. They will learn more about how other people live and think.
However, there are numerous challenges to finding child-friendly volunteer opportunities. There are often age restrictions on volunteering opportunities. This may be because of insurance restrictions, training needs, or supervision concerns. When looking for volunteer and service projects for your family, look for three key considerations. First, tasks need to be clearly defined. If training needs to be provided, ensure that the training clearly connects to the tasks expected during the volunteer opportunity. Next, clarify the time commitment for each volunteer experience upfront. Determine if the time frame is appropriate for your children or if they will need to take breaks. Finally, for the youngest participants, search for activities that have movement built in. These have the greatest possibility for success.
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GPC Competency 7: Knowledge of practices and services that raise the level of professionalism of grant developers. Skill 3: Identify strategies that grant developers use in building social capital to benefit their communities and society at large.