Encouraging Teens to Be Active in Their CommunityOctober 3, 2020
Children’s early experiences can help to shape the caliber of adults they become. It is partly this knowledge that can lead parents to opt for a homeschooling approach to their kids’ education. You want to have a hand in ensuring your children receive a rich and varied education, connecting with opportunities they may not otherwise have in a traditional school environment
Providing children with positive early encounters with community activist options instills a lasting appreciation for the importance of social contribution. By encouraging them to engage in opportunities that make a positive impact, you can help them become valuable global citizens. This can also provide another route to socialize with a diverse range of peers — something that is often a challenge for homeschoolers.
It is never too early to introduce children to participate in community projects. Even simply allowing them to be present during activities to witness the work being undertaken can help give them a sense of personal fulfillment volunteering can engender. We’ll take a look at some effective methods to encourage your kids to play a more active role in their communities and the world at large.
Combining Interests with Social Activism Topics
Let’s face it, kids aren’t always going to be entirely enthused about the idea of engaging with community activist projects. Of course, you’ve helped them understand the importance of their volunteer time. However, they’ve been putting in the hours on your homeschool curriculum and doing their chores. Probably the last thing they want to do is commit to anything resembling labor even if it is volunteer work. There are, however, ways to make teen community service a more attractive prospect.
Choose projects which tie in closely to activities or subjects they already enjoy recreationally. If they are artistic, help them source projects that make use of their visual talents. Kids interested in sports can engage with their local Special Olympics organization. There are even STEM organizations that promote diversity in coding and robotics. Whatever it is your child is passionate about, it is likely you can find a teen community service project to match it.
For older homeschool students, you can help them connect with projects and organizations that are closely related to their career interests or potential college major. Show them how volunteer work can provide them with additional skills. Demonstrate how they can gain experience that could be valuable on their path toward their vocational goals. Community work can also be an extremely positive addition to their growing resumes. This often provides useful contacts or references for university or job applications.
Individual Initiative for Community Service
It’s important to remember that being active in the community is about more than engaging in large-scale volunteer work projects. There is equally valuable work to be done on an individual basis, building a habit of personal responsibility. These independent efforts also help to reinforce the sense that your child has a vital role to play in the world and that one person’s actions can make a difference.
Instill in them the importance of acting in small yet positive ways, such as noticing when litter has been discarded and taking the initiative to dispose of it. Encourage them to speak out when they witness ethically questionable behavior — and teach them how to do so effectively and safely. This helps support their observational skills, which are key to recognizing opportunities to make a difference in their community.
Kids can often be egocentric, and while it’s important to praise your child when they undertake individual actions, they should also understand the deeper motivation. With each action, engage in a dialogue with them about how this helps both local and wider communities. Ask them questions about why they are undertaking activities. Encourage them to make decisions based not on the kudos they receive, but for the value it represents to the world around them.
Make Volunteer Work Part of Their Homeschool Routine
As a homeschooling parent, you put a great deal of time and effort into creating a curriculum that is intellectually beneficial and holistically rewarding. There’s no reason that community advocacy can’t also serve to support your lesson plan. Your child’s service projects and their education can work to mutually beneficial ends.
You can approach volunteer work projects as homeschool field trips. Do some research to find out about events in your local area, and work relevant materials into your lesson plans. You needn’t rework your entire curriculum around advocacy, but it can certainly be valuable and interesting to illustrate theoretical lessons with real-world examples. Let’s be honest — your student is unlikely to turn down a day outside their classroom environment!
Even small efforts to make community advocacy part of your everyday homeschooling routine can be effective in keeping your child enthused about advocacy. Use organizational tools to create a section of your home dedicated to their regular engagement of volunteer work. Hang a bulletin board to place flyers about events or community newsletters. Make sure a calendar is visible, showing their routines for foodbank deliveries or litter pickup. Their homeschooling environment can be a useful tool to demonstrate that volunteer efforts are not special occasions, but should be treated as an essential part of their routine.
Engaging with their local community is a valuable addition to your child’s homeschooling experience. What’s more, it provides them opportunities that help to develop their social skills and guide their ethical compass. Help them understand that their individual actions have larger consequences, combine activities with their interests or career goals, and make advocacy a part of their everyday life.
Sam Bowman is a writer who enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time, he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.