Help others. It's one of those BIG ideas -- the kind that kids will remember long after the geometry theorems fade. (Or was that just me?)
When kids feel connected to the larger community and truly come to learn that their actions -- even small ones -- can make an impact, what an empowering concept that becomes.
Here are 6 of the biggest lessons that community service provides a child:
1. Awareness. It's natural -- and understandable -- for kids to exist entirely within their immediate framework. Learning about concerns and causes half a world away opens up the lens.
2. Compassion. Sometimes issues like hunger or pollution can seem so remote to kids. But if the concepts can be given a face, say, by volunteering at a shelter or planting in a community garden, the empathy factor increases exponentially.
3. Respect. For others and yourself. The principle that everyone -- no matter where you're from, what you look like, what religion you are -- has the right to basic needs is such a simple and profound notion. Even grownups have been known to forget that one on occasion.
4. Responsibility. It's up to all of us. Don't look away. If someone is in need -- whether it's a friend or a stranger -- there are always opportunities to help and a little goes a long way.
5. Gratitude. In our consumer culture where kids are perpetually on the hunt for new toys, new clothes, new everything, being thankful and grateful gets lost -- fast. When kids get to see first hand how little others have, the perspective is eye opening.
6. Empowerment. Realizing that they can affect change, and that they have the agency to make someone's life better, is a magical message that builds self-worth.
What lessons have your kids learned from their community service efforts?
Image via Visions Service Adventures/Flickr