- Regular social interaction with a variety of people in your community
- A feeling of worth gained through meaningful service
- A strong focus on others, diminishing preoccupation with self and entertainment
- Compassion for other members of the community
Visiting Nursing Homes
As the population ages, more and more people are living in nursing homes and assisted living centers, and all too often, these people don’t have regular visitors. Coordinate with a local nursing home to arrive at a set time each week. Residents will look forward to visits from your polite children. If your kids play instruments, provide a weekly or monthly concert, giving your kids ample motivation for practicing during the week. Or you could keep things casual by bringing card games, board games, or coloring pages.
Serving As Museum Docents
Some museums and zoos, such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, have volunteer opportunities for kids who want to give tours or man displays and booths. When kids volunteer at museums and zoos, they get real world work experience and they have contact with people who are experts in their fields. They learn their material well as they teach others about the museum’s or zoo’s offerings. Kids also feel very proud when they can educate their peers about a topic they’re interested in.
Working at a Food Bank
Food banks always need volunteers to sort, organize, and shelve donations. This is especially true during the holidays when they’re inundated with donations from canned food drives. Working at a food bank helps your kids to develop an appreciation for what they have and to be more sensitive to those who have less. In addition, they learn about dependability, good work habits, and courtesy.
Common sense says that if your child is good at math, she should be a math tutor, but think beyond the obvious. Maybe your daughter is having trouble with reading comprehension. Why not set up a regular tutoring session where she works with a younger child on reading skills? She’ll realize that she knows a lot more than she thinks she does, and in her zeal to teach her young pupil, she might just rediscover her own enthusiasm for reading. If at all possible, find pupils for your children who are not members of your family. They tend to take their responsibilities more seriously when they’re not tutoring their siblings. If you know another homeschooling family in your neighborhood, set up a tutoring swap.
Organizing Group Service Projects
Volunteering doesn't have to be something that takes up a regular slot on your homeschool calendar. It can be something you do from time-to-time and can involve other homeschoolers in your co-op or neighborhood. For example, LACES, a homeschool service group in Columbia, Tennessee, volunteered as a group at The People's Table, which is sponsored by a local church. Projects like this build unity among homeschoolers and put many hands to work to serve the community.
Children who learn to volunteer during their growing-up years always find ways to serve their communities as adults. After all, it's been a way of life for them. Helping others becomes second nature when time has been set aside for meaningful service. Homeschoolers are in the unique situation of having great flexibility over their schedules, and this opens many doors for volunteering. While everyone else is at school, your homeschool students can be docents at the museum or tutor five-year-olds with their counting and reading. Volunteering is one more way you can cultivate character in your children and introduce them to people who can genuinely use their help. You're raising kids who will change the world.