Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Did you volunteer today? If you did, did you take your kids with you?
This weekend I took seriously the idea of this day as being a day ON rather than a day off.
I volunteered and took my 7-year old daughter with me. On Saturday we went to a Rabbit Rescue and helped clean the cages of and feed the rabbits. This morning, my husband, father, daughter and I went to do a clothing sort and write letters to our armed forces abroad.
According to an article “The Future of Volunteering: Children Under the Age of 14 as Volunteers” there are 5 major benefits to having younger children volunteer.
- It Helps Kids Make Healthier Lifestyle Choices – kids who volunteered were less likely to engage in negative behaviors and make poor choices, such as abusing drugs or alcohol, dropping out of school, or becoming pregnant.
- It Enhances Psychological, Social, and Intellectual Development – Studies have shown that volunteering increases self-esteem, responsibility, interest in learning, and moral reasoning in children.Volunteering helps children learn that they are significant in the lives of others, and recognize that they have the ability to make a difference. It helps them develop better relationships with adults and other children.
Volunteering teaches new material and opportunities to apply the newly learned material. The type of experiential learning that volunteering provides is very valuable and sometimes even more effective than traditional learning.
- It Teaches Life Skills – Through volunteering children learn to complete tasks, be punctual and reliable, the importance of getting along with others, and more.
- It Improves the Greater Community – though children are often thought of as helpless and non-contributors, through volunteering children can greatly contribute and provide value in society. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated:
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
You also, don’t have to be an adult to serve, as my daughter, and the other kids I observed this weekend, so beautifully demonstrated as they swept, sorted, fed, wrote letters to service members, and more.
- It Encourages a Lifetime of Service – Studies have shown that if a child gets started early in service, they will be much more likely to volunteer as an adult. This service ethic is not just important for the community, it’s important for the child and later adult. Studies have shown that volunteering increases self-confidence, sense of purpose and happiness in adults. It’s a win-win for all. So if you take your kids to volunteer – you’re also getting wonderful benefits.
These are the benefits for kids, us, and the society to having them volunteer. I’d love to know in the comments – are you volunteering with your kids? If so, what do you do?