Help the children in your care make a positive impact on the community
Although community service may seem more like an activity for older children, early childhood is actually the ideal time to introduce the concept of helping others. They can learn how to share, understand that actions affect others, and practice kindness and compassion. These are all essential components of social-emotional development, which is an important area to focus on when teaching toddlers.
Introducing the idea of helping others enables young children to understand that they can have a positive impact on the people around them.
Raise their awareness
The first step in getting young children involved is by finding gentle ways to educate them about community issues. Children learn well through storytelling, so research some age-appropriate books about helping others to demonstrate the benefits of showing concern for others. Follow-up by discussing the issues faced by the characters and how the problem was solved. Then explain needs in your community and outline your plans to help.
Obviously, any community service project involving young children will require a lot of adult support and supervision. Use this as an opportunity to include parents.
Consider the following suggestions for helping young children get involved with their community as part of your care-giving plan.
Make cards for soldiers
Children love art and military members overseas enjoy receiving mail that lets them know we’re thinking of them. Bring these two things together by having the children in your care create cards to mail. There are many nonprofit organizations that send care packages to troops and can help you identify where to send the cards.
Host a food drive
Food banks need a lot of extra help around the holidays and hosting a food drive is an easy way to give back to the community. Talk to the children about how they can help families like their own have a nice holiday dinner. Send information home to parents about the organization that you’ll be donating to, the dates of the drive, and suggestions about commonly needed dry goods that you’re collecting.
Collect pet supplies
Children have a soft spot for animals, and animals in the community need our help too. Check with your local Meals-on-Wheels program to see if their efforts include the pets of the people they help and find out if the children in your care could fill sandwich bags full of pet food for them to deliver. Ask local pet stores or community members for donations of dry cat and dog food.
You can also get a wish list from local shelters; they often need old towels, newspaper, paper towels, or other materials to help support their care for the animals.
Once you’ve completed your community service project, ask the children about the experience. What was their favorite part of the experience? How did it help make them feel? What kinds of projects would they be interested in doing in the future?
Participating in community service projects helps children learn about responsibility and gratitude. Help the children in your care bring joy to your community as they learn important life lessons by encouraging and supporting their charitable efforts.
The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network helps improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers through extensive resources, services, and education for caregivers. Learn more about how we can help you improve the standard of care.