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Encourage Families to Give Back this Holiday Season by Volunteering! #parents #kids #family

Posted Nov 20 2010 10:47pm

It's never too late to teach your children to help others and what better time of year to get started than the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season.

Your kids can learn the true value of being thankful by helping those who are less fortunate whether at a soup kitchen helping to feed the poor and homeless or at a nursing home cheering up lonely elderly patients during the holidays, or giving away toys for tots or gifts for kids in foster care or group homes, your kids will learn to enjoy volunteering and learn to appreciate what they have. There are many ways to reach out and give to others. Learn more by checking out Dr. Mary Zurn's site and Primrose Schools and try her steps to guide your family into volunteering.

We all want our children to grow up to be compassionate adults who want to help others. That's why we're always on the lookout for good ways to encourage character and development. Our good friends at Primrose Schools , the leader in educational childcare, recommend that parents make an effort to introduce volunteerism at a young age.

That's why Dr. Mary Zurn, Vice President of Education for Primrose, is offering parents the four easy steps outlined below to start their children on a path to meaningful volunteerism.

Step 1: Clarify your personal goals and motives for wanting to include your child in volunteer activities. Volunteering is a wonderful way to a share your values with your child. Pick a cause that is meaningful to you and your family rather than one that is simply convenient.

Step 2: Explain the importance of volunteerism and the contribution volunteers can make.A child's favorite question is "why?" Keep your answers simple and concrete. For example, if you are going to volunteer at the food bank, tell your child that "The food bank has lots of food for people who need it, and it will be our job to sort the food so that people are able to find what they need."

Step 3: Choose volunteer activities to do with your children that are age-appropriate.Children as young as three can begin volunteering. At this age they begin to enjoy participation in group activities and are better able to follow directions. Remember that a preschooler's concept of the world is not very large and is usually limited primarily to their home, neighborhood and school; therefore, it is important to keep the activity within the realm of what they can imagine. A few examples:

    Participate in "clean the park" activities. Be sure to have your child wear gloves.Take recyclables to recycling collection centers.Act as a companion to the elderly in retirement or assisted living homes. Simply listening to their stories and relieving their loneliness provides multiple benefits for the senior citizen and your child.Participate in local races and walks that raise money for a charitable cause that you think is important; most races have a shorter race for children.Sort food at a food bank. Be sure to confirm that children are welcome to volunteer and that it will be a safe environment.
Step 4: Find a child-friendly not-for-profit. Ask the following questions to help you select the volunteer opportunity that is right for your family:

    Does the organization have experience with and a history of successfully working with children and families? Will the organization provide me with a reference from another family who has volunteered with them?Will the organization staff welcome my child's participation?Is there a specific job that my child can do successfully? Who will show my children what to do?Are there special clothes or supplies needed for my child to volunteer with this organization?Does the organization conduct appropriate background screenings on its staff? Does the organization have insurance if there is an accident while your family is volunteering?Can the organization provide a concrete example that will help your child understand how his or her efforts benefit others?
To find these and other great tips for parents, check out Dr. Zurn's blog at . For more information on Primrose Schools, visit . You can also check them out on and Twitter !

Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a gift card in exchange for this post. No monetary exchange took place.

mysignature-1.png ©2008-2010 Patricia Garza


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