Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of current research on happiness is our innate drive to do good for others. Community service is more than just doing the right thing, it literally brings the giver joy. It is also one of the activities that contributes to a feeling of democratic citizenship and generally strengthens 21st century skills. With our children, we advocate that the #1 most important thing to us is how they treat other people. Beyond daily interactions with other students and staff at their schools or camps, though, they rarely get a chance to interact with and contribute to their greater community.
Question for the Week: What volunteer activities have your child/ren or student/s enjoyed most?
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Seeking Out Volunteer Opportunities
Some people already belong to organizations like churches or schools that offer regular opportunities for kids to participate in community service activities, but even if you’re not already affiliated with them, many nonprofit organizations welcome volunteers of any age (parental supervision may be a requirement, though!), and some can even accommodate more than one helper at a time - as when our 9yo and his friend had a “volunteer playdate” last weekend at a local pinball museum (thanks, James!). Other people find outlets closer to home, like sending their kids out to elderly neighbors’ houses to do light gardening for them during the summer (you rock, Bess!).
Local libraries and senior centers are also great places to contact if you’re looking for service opportunities, especially for teens. There are also online resources, such as GenerationOn, providing searchable lists of kids volunteer opportunities, Kids Care Clubs, helping groups of kids find volunteer opportunities together, and many more national and local organizations. Google one today!
Service Learning Suggestions
To give you more inspiration, there are many organizations out there that are doing some great work in this area. An excellent list can be found at the “What Kids Can Do” website under “Service Learning”. The website has many other interesting resources as well and is worth checking out. The KIDS Consortium is another organization that can provide a few great ideas on how children can contribute and learn in their community. Youth Service America provides campaigns, programs, resources, and grants, and Points of Light is a national volunteer resource center.
If you’re looking for some light reading this summer, check out http://www.studentsatthecenter.org/ - it’s a great repository for recent research on student-centered learning (thanks, Dean!).
Hope you’re enjoying your summer - and we’re looking forward to hearing about your service learning projects soon!
With love and joy,
Jason and Amy
To Do List
1. Tweet a joyful moment to #JLNjoy
2. Post to the JLN Facebook page
3. Send in your favorite videos/books/organizations, tips, and ideas
4. Talk about joyful learning at least once in the next week to someone new
5. Tell a friend about the Joyful Learning Network ;)
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