Education is about learning to read, and do the quadratic equation, and understand prepositions. But it’s also about learning to be kind, to make friends, and to become a thoughtful citizen and community member. During the winter break, take some time between all the celebrations to teach your kids about giving back. Here are five ways to get started:
1. Volunteer as a family
Volunteering is a great way to teach your kids compassion and empathy while strengthening your community and bonding as a family. Find out what your church or local community organizations are doing and sign up to help prepare a meal, organize clothing or work at a local food bank.
2. Write an unexpected thank you note
Your child might have written thank you notes for gifts in the past. But we can be thankful for less tangible things, too. Ask your child to think about someone who affected their life in the last year (a teacher, a mentor, a neighbor, a friend) and write a short note thanking that person for what they did.
3. Bring holiday cheer to a nursing home
The holidays can be lonely for seniors whose families aren’t around or able to visit. Bake something sweet and bring your kids to spend an hour or two visiting a senior living center. Even better: Get a few friends or neighbors involved and sing a few Christmas carols or holiday songs. (Just be sure to call ahead and find out when is the best time to go!)
4. Donate old toys and clothes
Kids’ rooms tend to accumulate piles of toys they no longer play with and clothing they’ve outgrown. Take time over the holiday break to go through it all with them and donate items in good condition to local community organizations. Add an extra personal touch by having your kids create a few holiday cards for the families who may receive them.
5. Play elf for an afternoon
Buy or bake cookies with your kids, wrap them up in plastic wrap and ribbon, and spend some time distributing them to people in public service like the mail carrier, sanitation workers, crossing guards, bus drivers, and firefighters.
Remember, giving back doesn’t have to be a big project. Start with a few small, simple gestures – your kids may be surprised how far they go.