Hitting the books isn’t the only way your kids develop important skills when school lets out for the day.
Put your afternoons to good use with volunteer programs and after-school activities that allow your kids to give back to the community while they grow and have fun at the same time. Here are five great ways to volunteer:
1. Community Organizations
Local and national organizations, like the Girl Scouts and YMCA, provide amazing opportunities for giving back and learning. Scouts and similar groups are often involved with volunteer programs that help your community in a variety of ways, including cleaning up parks, doing arts and crafts at hospitals, and visiting nursing homes.
Not only will your kids spend time giving back, but they’ll also learn about social interaction and have the chance to make friends who share similar values.
2. Tutor Time
For your older kids, tutoring is a great way to give back that also allows them to develop their own social and leadership skills. Public libraries and city recreation facilities often run volunteer programs that offer tutoring. You can also check with your school to find out if there are any volunteer opportunities for older students to tutor younger ones.
Your child doesn’t need to be a straight-A student to make an impact on another child in need. Something as simple as practicing reading together makes a difference.
3. Write Letters
Letter writing is a lost art, but you can discover it again as a family. Give back to the community by having your kids volunteer to write letters to those who could use a friend, like patients in a nearby children’s hospital or those serving in the military.
In addition to giving back, your kids will get a chance to practice reading, writing, and social skills. You can try the modern version of letter writing with a program like e-Buddies that pairs your child and a child with developmental disabilities as e-mail pen pals.
4. Start A Collection
Kids love collecting things, so why not put their hobby to good use? Instead of rocks and bottle caps, gather anything from canned goods and used clothes to books and dog toys. Your kids can then give the collected items to local organizations like food banks, animal shelters, and libraries. Spend an afternoon after school accumulating items from your neighbors to donate.
5. Get Crafty
Art projects are always a fun after-school activity. Let your kids get creative and give back at the same time by making things that could be donated or that help the community. A few ideas include making simple, no-sew blankets that you can donate to a shelter or family in need, decorating shoe boxes that can be used to make care packages for kids in need, and making bird feeders out of recycled materials to help care for wildlife in your area.
You don’t have to limit yourself to major volunteer programs that require a huge time commitment to make a difference. Even small activities like helping out neighbors or staying late to clean up the classroom make an impact in your community.
What are your child’s favorite after-school volunteering activities? How does your family get involved? Tell us on Twitter!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.