posted by Talk About Giving blog team
November 30, 2012 @ 1:50 pm
Many schools these days are requiring that students complete pre-determined hours of volunteer work in our community. Whether your children are required to volunteer, do so on their own, or you’re interested in offering them a new experience, you can be assured that not only will the community benefit, they will too.
Recognizing your own ability to make a difference is not only empowering and self esteem-boosting, but can offer life-long rewards not only in helping others but in future personal endeavors. Teens that volunteer are exposed to people who are different from them and those that they know, offering a new perspective on others in the community and world. Further, they are more aware of the issues facing their communities, more likely to recognize or offer solutions, and more aware of programs currently available. And personally, they receive hands on experience. Regardless of the duty, the experience can influence decisions they make, introduce new skills, provide insight into a future career, or even more profound, how they wish to live their lives.
Looking for a way to help your teens get the most out of their experience? Here are some suggestions:
1. Types of Opportunities. There are countless ways to get involved but exploring the basic options first will help direct you and your child in selecting the ideal volunteer experience:
- Would they like to volunteer with a group?
- Are they looking for a one-time experience or regular volunteering gig?
- What kind of work are they interested in?
- Working in an office, special events/fundraisers, directly with people in need, etc.
- Number three below will also help guide this discussion.
2. Interests and Passion. When it comes to volunteer work, the experience is amplified when they’re working on a project that is near and dear to you in some way. Is your child interested in animals? Have a friend or family member that that has been affected by illness? Or, do they have special interests like art, construction, science or history? Help them determine what is meaningful for them and make it part of their own personal efforts.
3. Skills. Your teen is not so far away from beginning a career. Volunteering can provide great experiences that help guide future career decisions, provide hands-on knowledge that can be applied later and might even fit nicely on a resume. Is your child a great writer that could help a local nonprofit with blog content? Does he have artistic abilities that could be applied to marketing efforts? Perhaps she is extremely organized and would be great at leading an initiative or event. Consider their strengths and help them look for opportunities to grow their skills.
4. Reflection. At the end of the day, talk with them about what they’re doing, how they’re helping, what they’re learning, how they’re benefiting, what they’re seeing. Help them see all the good in their efforts, beyond checking off community service requirements.