Your child is, by nature, pro-social. That is, he instinctively shows concern for others, from comforting his distressed friend to helping his little sister find her lost toy. So he already has an understanding that he should help and support others in his family and beyond.
Take this one notch up and introduce him to the concept of volunteering. Your child will learn that he CAN make a difference in another person’s life!
How to get started
Share with your child the different ways volunteers contribute to society, for example, helping the elderly, teaching others new skills such as reading and writing, and gathering used (but still in good condition) items for those who can’t afford them.
The Internet has a wealth of information about the work of different voluntary organisations.
Encourage him to read up on them, all the while emphasising the positive effects that volunteering has on those at the receiving end, as well as on the volunteers themselves.
Then take him to see volunteering first-hand. Identify the type of volunteer work he’s interested in and arrange a visit to an appropriate organisation. He may not start volunteering immediately but may be inspired by what he sees.
Walk the talk
Most voluntary positions are for adult and teenagers. So, the easiest way for your child to get started is for the two of you to volunteer together.
At the same time, you are setting yourself up as a good role model for him, as you share about the impact of your commitment on the recipients.
Alternatively, if volunteering together is not possible due to your own time constraints, try to arrange something on a smaller scale. For example, under the supervision of the teachers at his school, he could help in the nursery class or be a “buddy” to a socially vulnerable pupil in the playground.
Closer to home, you could try to arrange for your child to visit an elderly neighbour once or twice week to help with, say, sweeping the floor or simply chatting with him or her.
The specific volunteer activity itself isn’t as important as the fact that volunteering teaches your child the importance of helping others.
Check out these volunteering parent-and-child opportunities on Giving.sg!
Do one better than donating packaged goods at this annual food drive at various hypermarts. Invite your child (age 13 and up) to join in giving out flyers to patrons and soliciting for food donations on December 11 from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. Volunteer slots are limited; register ASAP.
GUI encourages youngsters to “discover their sense of purpose.” And its 26,000-square metre community Kampung Kampus in Khatib is inspo centre! December 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you and your 15-and-up kid can help maintain the campus by doing physical work like dismantling wooden pallets, sanding and sawing.
Have a less than grateful teen at home? Encourage him or her to appreciate what he or she has by cleaning and sanitising toys and more at a child centre for infants and children from disadvantaged families. It’s a 3.5-hour gig, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., December 10. Volunteers must be 16 or older.
About Giving Week
A national movement, Giving Week falls on November 29 to December 5 this year.
The goal: encourage Singaporeans and others living in the so-called city of good to make a difference through donations, volunteering, fundraising and more. Anyone can attend the week of fun, charity-focused events.
By Young Parents, additional reporting by Sara Lyle Bow and Atifa Othman, November 2016
Like this? Read more things to do here.