JBCN School Blog

Help Your Child Find Great Volunteer Opportunities

Help Your Child Find Volunteer Opportunities Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash
An ancient Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” How fascinating a thought it is, isn’t it? Human beings have always found the necessity to evolve with time and to adapt to the surroundings by taking initiatives to bring in changes and improvements not only in the way we live but also in the manner we think and perceive our environment. Such attempts to make life better often witness a trigger from our home circle. Man learns at each stage through observation, curiosity, responsibility, communication, empowered action and collaboration.

All these attributes drive human beings to look out for opportunities wherein they can volunteer in projects through a collaborative spirit to make the society a better place with every new sunrise. As parents, elders and educators our role to ensure the facilitation of the children to find great volunteer opportunities is manifold. I place ‘parents’ at the apex of this triangle as the primary education begins at home and it is from home where we draw our nourishment for all activities. Educators are vital stakeholders in this process and act as catalysts to that effect.

Children are curious little artists. There is no pre-set manual on encouraging children to volunteer in projects as such. However, some useful pointers in this regard as outlined below will certainly produce the ripple effect, eventually leading to a wave of opportunities thereafter.

  • Role modelling is an excellent strategy to inculcate the spirit of volunteering among children. While we talk about expressing solidarity in these extraordinary times, it would be great to make this habit an essential attribute of lifestyle. Take your children to the house of your domestic help and encourage them to interact with the children living there. On your way back home ask some questions that will help your child reflect on survival conditions and lifestyle parameters. Over the next few visits to your domestic help’s place, volunteer to build a little kitchen area for them and then maybe a proper toilet and sanitation facilities gradually. This will help in promoting a habitat for humanity and a mindset to learn how to seek for volunteering opportunities.
  • Integrate service learning in the school curriculum is another powerful step. This will help them find potential opportunities by exploring the community and curricular needs, by planning and conducting a service and by reflecting, demonstrating and assessing the learning. Meaningful cross-curricular connections will expand the volunteering opportunities exponentially.
  • Technology and social networking have taken the entire world by storm and revolutionised the way we looked at things even half a decade ago. Talking to our children as responsible adult members is the need of the hour. This should not be mistaken for controlling them or making them feel as if they are under some surveillance. Instead it is sensible to make the children feel respected and trusted. Teenagers should be talked into and encouraged to launch campaigns to combat hate crimes and other disturbing activities where streaks of any kind of prejudices are witnessed.
  • Help children create a group of individuals who have some common vision and mission and nudge them to use social networks to spread messages of diversity, inclusion, compassion, empathy and peace.
  • Walk the talk. Practise what you preach as an adult. It could simply start with showing your love and care for animals in the way of tending to an injured calf and taking it to a vet; to creating start up clubs where animal rights are promoted and discussed and concrete steps are taken to ensure safety of animals in their community and space. Gradually, a robust plan of action could be sketched and implemented thereby.
  • Blended learning should be brought to the fore to enable children find great volunteer opportunities. For example, a weekend visit to the beach or an amusement park in your city or town should draw attention to the rampant dumping of waste and plastic and other toxic substances that are not only harmful for marine life and species but also detrimental to the health of animals on land. Efforts could be made and initiatives could be appreciated to form alliances with community partners for a beach clean-up drive or starting a donation campaign with the objective to reduce, reuse and recycle waste.
  • Children love challenges. Often the most brilliant sparks to volunteer in activities come from employing reverse psychology strategies. When you coyly tell the 21st century children that they are not capable of doing certain tasks, they take it up as a powerful challenge and attempt doing that with utmost dedication and sincerity as if their life and reputation were dependent on it.
  • Reward the children with occasional tokens of appreciation that will encourage them and give an impetus to continuing the pursuit of such volunteer opportunities.
  • As parents and educators, we must not forget our multifarious roles and duties. Create and resurrect the culture of reading to your children. Some of the greatest life lessons, skills and values come to fruition when you engage your children in a reading activity at least an hour each day. This could be scheduled as per your convenience. Teachers may read out in the form of classroom enrichment sessions while parents should read out before bedtime. Read out stories of transformation and episodes of commitment and dedication where simple acts of bravado have revamped the lifestyle and survival strategies.
  • Teach crisis support and management to the children. Help them create a society Red Cross in the residential buildings wherein medical assistance may be provided to the needy during times of emergency. Similarly, even a ‘food bank’ can be opened to help the needy and starving lot. This will help children understand the importance of responsible consumption of goods and curb wastage of the same.
  • Collaboration is the key. Visits to orphanages, Old Age Homes, care centres will help children look for opportunities to volunteer in offering services either by initiating a fund-raiser or by creating awareness and spreading the message to initiate a drive to help the marginalized sections of the society.
The need to look for an opportunity arises when the realisation of what we lack is made evident. It is true that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Children should be brought up as caregivers and enthusiastic volunteers who are rid of any vested interests. However, as adults it is our responsibility to guide them in the right direction. Integration of the service learning programme helps children to assess the goals and create their proposals for the identified volunteer project. It is extremely crucial to draw up a significant plan which is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. That would indeed be a SMART way to find, explore and brainstorm effective volunteer opportunities.

Let us all come together to help the future of the world be the harbingers of a community where we just don’t preach sustainability but redefine the core policies and philosophies of a sustainable and empowered living. Each child is unique. Each child has a myriad of ideas which need to be given a patient hearing. Each new idea can open up multiple possibilities to make this world a better place to live in.

Written by: Mr. Abhinandan Bhattacharya,
CAIE and IBDP English Language and Literature Facilitator,
Resource Person – MISA, CUP, Collins,
JBCN International School, Oshiwara, Mumbai.
*The writer of this blog is currently doing a course on ‘Integrating Service Learning’ under the aegis of National Geographic and the ideas shared in this blog are a reflection of his reading a lot of case studies and understanding the true spirit of volunteerism.*


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Posted on: Thursday,2020,Jul,Thu