Even in a challengine economy, children can learn the benefits of doing work that benefits others. Volunteering or other philanthropic endeavors can teach important life lessons and help kids feel good about themselves in the process.
According to radio host and rabbi Shmuley Boteach, "When we don't give kids responsibilities, we pay the price. Kids can become lazy and complacent and too self-focused. Volunteering and giving back prevents that and helps others."
There are many ways children can get involved, whether working alongside their parents or doing activities all on their own. Here are some age-appropriate volunteer ideas.
5 to 8: Children of this age tend to like doing things with their hands. Activities that foster this enjoyment are beneficial to all. Ideas for kids to consider include working at a soup kitchen or helping parents deliver food to needy individuals. They can also be an asset at a senior center, playing board games with the elderly who may not have grandchildren of their own.
9 to 13: Adolescents can partake in volunteer work that enables them to be a bit more independent. A good idea is for kids to volunteer to do work around the neighborhood for different neighbors. Perhaps someone needs help maintaining the front lawn. Someone else may appreciate snow shoveling services. Older children can help shop for groceries for house-bound individuals.
14 and up: Teenagers can do activities that fit with their ideals. Maybe they want to help clean up a beach or a park. Others can help renovate an abandoned lot into a skateboard park or kids play area. Kids may want to volunteer at school by being mentors to younger students. There are so many opportunities.
Keep in mind that parents should not force their children to volunteer. It should be a completely voluntary process. Bring up the idea and talk about the benefits of being generous to others. Chances are kids will want to get involved one way or another.