One way you can teach your kids about empathy and gratitude is by finding an institution you can both volunteer in this summer. By teaching your kids to volunteer, they learn the importance of giving back to society and grow up with a sense of gratitude. For volunteering to be productive, you have to consider factors like what your teen is interested in, their abilities, and the organization’s location. Find below some examples of places where you and your teenaged child can volunteer this summer.
Hospitals and Skilled Nursing Centers
Most hospitals and nursing centers advertise volunteering opportunities from time to time as they need help with certain duties. For example, your teen can direct visitors, make photocopies, work in the cafeteria, among other tasks. There are a ton of hospitals you and your teen can offer your help. In fact, in 2017, there were about 6,210 hospitals all over the U.S., and the number keeps growing, translating to more volunteering opportunities. As you research, narrow down hospitals and nursing centers that interest you and your child, but also factor in the location. You may want to work with an institution closer to home for convenience.
A lot of animal shelters need volunteers to help with various activities. Therefore, if your teenager is a lover of animals, this is an excellent opportunity for them. Most animal shelters take care of dogs and cats, but some have birds, snakes, rabbits, and a few critters. If your child has any phobias, that will influence the animal shelter you choose.
Also, there are animal shelters that try to accommodate the needs of volunteers. If your child fears large dogs, then the shelter could let them work with cats or rabbits. There are various tasks to be done in an animal shelter, including cleaning the cages, washing the animals, and filling the water and food bowls. Additionally, not all tasks require you to interact with the animal directly. They can help with making fliers, phone calls, or creating social media posts, too.
You and your teen can also volunteer in a children’s home and help kids who unfortunately have lost their parents, suffered domestic violence, or even abandonment. Note that some of these kids have gone through traumatic experiences. While this volunteer idea is an excellent one, it’s important to keep in mind that you may need to have a conversation with your teens about maintaining awareness and being respectful.
You can do various activities with the kids, like teaching them how to draw, sing, and write. Children as young as three years old can pronounce t, d, and n sounds. Therefore, you can help set a reading foundation for them for when they start school. Additionally, you do not have to interact with the kids directly. There are other activities like helping in the kitchen or participating in a fundraising drive to help raise funds for the home.
Libraries are a great opportunity for your teen who enjoys reading books. It is an opportunity for them to learn some work skills, meet new community members, and form social bonds. Also, libraries like having volunteers around to help them with various tasks, such as dusting and organizing bookshelves. Your teen can also help in other activities like repairing old books, helping other people in the library use computers, sorting books for donation, assisting young kids in craft projects, or reading stories.
Most meal programs rely on help from the community to perform duties like serving food, helping with the setup, and cleaning up. With about 63 million Americans volunteering their time, skills, and energy in making a difference, you might as well let your teenager be included in that number! However, there are meal programs with an age restriction, so you will first have to check before taking your teenager to volunteer there.
One role of parenting is ensuring your teenagers grow to be kind and upstanding adults. And in a world where people are wrapped up in their needs and wants, volunteering is an excellent way for them to learn about giving back to the community and becoming responsible at the same time. It is also likely to help your child grow up as a fulfilled human ready to help those in need.