Streams

Volunteer Month: Tips for Kids

Thursday, July 22, 2010 - 01:04 PM

Tips for Your Child's Volunteering (or Family Volunteering)

From our friends at VolunteerMatch

  • Look for a program with a track record of successful age-specific children's programs. Don't assume that the nonprofit down the street from your house can engage your children in a safe, fun, and meaningful experience - not every organization can.
  • Think carefully about your child's interests and skills. The best opportunities are those that he or she will really enjoy doing while also being great learning experiences.
  • Make sure your children understand that their activities are making a difference. Explain in an age-appropriate way that sharing one's time and energy is an act of giving that all of us can perform. A good way to reinforce this is to cite characters from stories or films that give unconditionally to help others.
  • Children get the most from volunteering when their parents take part, too. But if you ever need to leave your child alone at a nonprofit facility, insist that a supervisor with education or childcare credentials be onsite at all times.
  • Do a little screening. Get the contact information of other parents involved in the volunteer program and ask them about their experiences. Check Google for information about the program.
  • Be honest with volunteer coordinators about your child's skills and limitations. If your child is disabled, say so, and be alert to volunteer coordinators who seem uncertain how to involve your child. A good volunteer coordinator should be able to make it work.
  • Be upfront about your child's availability. Some volunteer opportunities are short-lived; some require longer commitments. For many nonprofits, it's better to recruit the right volunteer than one who needs to leave the program early.
  • Once you've made a commitment on your child's behalf, you must keep it. If emergencies come up, the right thing to do is provide notice in accordance with the policies of the organization so alternative arrangements can be made.
  • Check in with the volunteer coordinator after a volunteer opportunity. How did you child respond to the work? What actions if any should you take to make the next opportunity a positive one?

Using VolunteerMatch.org Search Effectively for Child Volunteering

  • Include the word "child" in your keyword search.
  • Look for organizations with a track record of child-friendly volunteering.
  • Utilize the "Great for Kids" and "Great for Groups" categories in Advanced Search.
  • Take advantage of ratings and recommendations from other parents about specific programs.

Listen to the conversation on air with Greg Baldwin about kids and volunteering.

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