The Importance of Volunteering: Help Your Toddler Make a Big Impact

“Giving back is an important year-round habit to establish with young children,” said Dr. Zurn. (V.P. of education at Primrose Schools: AdvancED® accredited child care services). “Volunteering plays an important role in the development of character. It teaches children that they can do things that positively impact the world around them. Even young children can learn to become active participants in their communities.”

So parents…don't worry about the "big" lesson here, focus on the small parts first. Many parents get overwhelmed with the idea that they need to raise a compassionate child and they stress about when to start and where to being. The best thing you can do is start at an early age and start simple. Here are just a few ways to help you get started:

Start by clarifying your personal goals and motives for wanting to include your child in volunteer activities. You can take this a step further by explaining these things to your children as well. 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.

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Next, explain the importance of volunteerism and the contribution volunteers can make. A child’s favorite question is “why?” Keep your answers simple and concrete.

Make sure to choose volunteer activities that are age-appropriate for your children. At particular ages they may enjoy participation in group activities and are better able to follow directions this way. 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 and can easily understand.

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 staff welcome my child’s participation? Is there a specific job that my child can do successfully? Can the organization provide a concrete example that will help my child understand how his or her efforts benefit others?

Finally find a cause that your child is actually passionate about. This way they'll be more likely to enjoy and not relate a negative experience to volunteering in general. If your child loves animals…then take them to your local SPCA. If they enjoy the outdoors, find a local park that may have days where they have volunteers come and plant trees or garden. Whatever you do, make sure it's something they'll want to do again.

Ultimately, we know a compassionate child is more likely to grow into a compassionate adult. Volunteering is a positive way to encourage this behavior by getting your child involved in your community at an early age. So with these steps in mind, sit down with your family and make a plan to lend a helping hand.

Submitted by Emily Patterson on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited child care services.  Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® preschool curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Emily has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.

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