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5 Ways to Meaningfully Involve Children in Giving Back

Giving back to our local community and to the world at large is something that can be part of the daily conversations we have with our children. We can donate not just money, but time, effort, and valuable goods to people or places that are less fortunate than us. It feels good to give to others and when it becomes part of our everyday, we are giving because we want to, not because someone asked us to. Children do as we do. When having conversations about giving back explain the why and involve them in an age appropriate manner.

Here are 5 ways to meaningfully involve children in giving back:

Practice Daily Gratitude

Practicing gratitude every day allows us to see all the things we have in our life and opens up our eyes to what we can be thankful for. We might express gratitude for our 5 senses, family and friends, our environment and local communities. We can have a discussion with children about wants and needs, emphasizing the distinct differences between them. For example, “I want to eat ice cream for breakfast, but I don’t need to!” When we talk about wants versus needs it allows us to tap into empathy. It alerts us to the needs of others by putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Conversations about gratitude should start in the home, focusing on the things that are close to us, such as our homes, our playroom and bedroom. From there, we can expand outward. We can start giving back to ourselves, to others close to us, to our community and then to the world at large.  

Take Care of Our Planet

The earth gives us so much and it is our job to keep it clean. We can do things like turning off the lights in our home when we are not using them. We can throw away our garbage. We can be conscious of the items we are purchasing. While out on a walk with your child, point out any litter you notice. Have a discussion about where garbage should go. You might not be equipped to pick up the garbage you see right then, but you can revisit this place with proper supplies and remove the litter you’ve found. Inside your home, discuss the acts you can take to care for your home while caring for the earth as well.  

Model Responsibility 

In our lifetime, we are responsible for a wide variety of things. Beginning at a young age, you can empower your children to practice responsibility in taking care of their belongings and spaces.  They can begin helping in small ways and you can consistently model what responsibility looks like. Depending on your children’s age, you can curate a “helping jar” that lives in your family room. You can use a jar and items found in nature, such as stones or seashells. Each time someone helps to complete a task you can drop one stone in the jar. When it fills up to the top, you can have a discussion. “Wow, we all worked together to take care of our things and our home!”

Offer Everyday Acts of Kindness 

You can create handmade notes and cards for the people who help you on a regular basis. When writing thank you cards, be intentional and specific about what you are thanking them for.  Holding the door open for someone and calling someone just to say hello is sharing bits of kindness that already lie within you.  

Give Back to People, Causes, Organizations, and Charities

Volunteering for local organizations teaches your children the importance of community.  Participate in various drives that your children can relate to: toys, books, clothing, and even pet food. Have conversations with your kids about the items they don’t use anymore and emphasize that they can share these things with others who need them. See what you can purchase that would serve a useful purpose for others in need. When we give back to others in our community, we can give back to our environment, to the animals who live there and then land itself. Ultimately, we are giving back on a global scale!

About the Author

Hannah Ruppel has been an early childhood educator since 2009. She received her master’s in general and special education from Fordham University and holds an Early Childhood American Montessori Society (AMS) credential. Hannah is passionate about wellness, creating non-toxic home and learning environments, and sharing her knowledge of mindfulness to young children and their families. She wholeheartedly believes that when we instill our kids with the vital tools they need across all areas of their development, they are better prepared to take on anything as they change and grow! She recently moved to Shelter Island, New York with her husband Tyler and two boys. They enjoy cooking, playing outdoors, and seeking new adventures.

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