Volunteering is an opportunity to change lives, including your own. It is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life. In return, volunteering can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. There are many volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages – playing with kittens at the local humane society, serving meals at the local rescue mission, or picking up trash in a neighborhood park.
Research has shown that students who participated in service-learning were found to have scored higher than non-participating students in several studies, particularly in social studies and language arts. They were found to be more cognitively engaged and more motivated to learn. Service-learning has also been shown to increase achievement among alternative school students and other students considered at risk of school failure.
Service learning has always been a major part of our homeschool journey. Today, I share a variety of ways in which you can encourage your teens and pre-teens to get involved.
Global Youth Service Day
The 2016 Global Youth Service Day is April 15-17. Many youth organizations hold events in conjunction with Global Youth Service Day, so the month of April is full of service and awareness opportunities that you can celebrate as part of Global Youth Service Day. Choose a cause and an idea from the list of ideas below or come up with your own. Your project can count towards as many of these events as you want.
Service to the Environment
2016 marks the 12th annual National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) which will be celebrated April 17-23, 2016. EE Week events and projects will be taking place across the country in classrooms, after-school clubs, parks, aquariums, museums, and more. Families and educators of all kinds, teaching any age, are encouraged to take part in the nationwide celebration.
It’s Our Turn to Lead: Earth Day ~ Earth Day celebrations bring to light the fact that this planet’s resources are finite and will not last forever. Earth Day is April 22 this year, learn more today.
Plant a school vegetable or pollinator garden. Designating a small patch of the yard for some native flowering plants is a great way to attract pollinating insects to your home or school.
Celebrate Arbor Day All Year with These 12 Activities ~ The Arbor Day Foundation inspires people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.
Create a Bottle Cap Mural ~ A long term project that promotes recycling and provides an opportunity to give back to the community.
Annual Ladybug Hunt ~ A citizen science project asking people of all ages to collect data on ladybugs in their local area.
Contact a local recycling center to see if someone can give a guest presentation about how different materials are recycled and the processes that take place at the facility.
Take part in the World Water Monitoring Challenge ~ In this citizen science project, students learn more about the watersheds in which they live, how watersheds work, and how protecting their waters can have beneficial impacts.
You can also find a variety of teaching materials and educator toolkits on the National Environmental Education Foundation website.
Service to Our Communities
He Had a Dream: The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King ~ Each year, people across the country come together to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy by serving their communities.
Is there a cause dear to your heart? Think of a project or fundraising campaign to help teach others. In our home, we join the Nystagmus Network on Wobbly Wednesday to raise awareness and research funds for Nystagmus.
Habitat For Humanity Act! Speak! Build! Week ~ Building alone cannot provide shelter for the 1.6 billion people who currently live in poverty housing. Act! Speak! Build! Week serves to educate others by expanding the scope of Habitat’s mission from raising a hammer and raising funds to include raising your voice.
Service Learning Through Roots & Shoots ~ Roots & Shoots is the youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. Each year, youth collaborate to make a difference for animals, the environment, and their local communities.
Looking for a way to help kids in your community? Host your very own Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry.
Roots & Shoots Turns Learners into Leaders ~ Roots & Shoots places the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people.