Every year the United States celebrates the month of April as National Volunteer Month.
This April, Traveling Stories would like to highlight ways to encourage your child to become a volunteer!
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, roughly 63 million Americans volunteer 8 billion hours of their time, talent, and effort to improve other people’s lives and the world. Talk about impressive!
There are a vast number of benefits for your little one that come along with acting as a volunteer!
In fact, HELPGUIDE.org, an online guide to mental and emotional health, did a wonderful job of expanding upon a Harvard Health Publication about the happiness effect of volunteering. Some of which are:
- Provides the ability to make new friends
- Increases social skills
- Increases self-confidence
- Causes the release of those happy/feel-good endorphins
- And so much more!
A Teaching Tool
When introduced at a young age, volunteering can spout lessons that will follow your child throughout their life.
Kidshealth.org points out that volunteering can teach your child:
- A sense of responsibility
- The fact that one person can make a difference
- The benefits of sacrifice
- An empathy for people of different backgrounds
- Job skills for the future
- How to wisely fill idle time
Now you may be saying – “Great! I know volunteering is good, but how do I get my child excited about it???”
Encouraging Your Child to be a Volunteer
Kids may not always be the easiest to convince that something that looks a lot like work can actually be very fun and rewarding. However, the wonderful thing about kids is once they get it in their mind that the like something, they usually throw their whole heart into it. A great trait to have when it comes to volunteering.
There are countless way that you can help encourage your child to become a volunteer. As every child is different, it may be a matter of finding which works best for them. PBS.org has done fantastic in outlining ways to inspire kids to take action.
- Find something fun – Volunteering does not have to be a chore. The goal is to find something they like to do and can relate to.
- Find something easy – It does not have to be an all-day event and you certainly do not want to wear out your child’s attention span. Work with your child to determine an appropriate time commitment that will allow them to keep interested in the volunteer work.
- Make it a family event – Volunteering together sets a great example for your child – they see you as a role model. Show them with your actions that volunteering can be fun, and that helping others makes you feel good!
- Create your own opportunity – Age restriction can certainly be a factor when finding a good volunteering fit for your child. Consider acts like carrying a UNICEF can when trick-or-treating, participating in a walk-a-thon, holding a lemonade stand where the proceeds go to charity, or EVEN helping at your favorite literacy related non-profit’s local StoryTent!
Traveling Stories Junior Volunteers
Did you know, that children ages 13 and up can act as a Junior Traveling Stories Volunteer?!
Junior Volunteers hold the same responsibilities as our adult volunteers.
- They help welcome children to the StoryTents and assist them in both the sign in and sign-out process.
- Volunteers will pass out Book Bucks to readers for each book read, or for every 30 pages in the case of chapter books, and provide support to readers faced with the tough decision of what prize to get with their Book Bucks.
- JVs aid young readers in selecting books they will enjoy and read to the younger ones that are not able to read on their own yet. When reading books to the younger StoryTent goers, the Junior Volunteers will point out pictures, ask questions to engage the readers, and get to know the readers on a personal level.
- Also, they help StoryTent Coordinators with the set up and clean up of the StoryTents.
The Tale of a StoryTent Reader Turned Volunteer
Meet Mohammed – a current Junior Traveling Stories Volunteer!
Fun fact, at age 11 Mohammed started coming to the Traveling Stories StoryTent as a reader. Just two months ago, when he turned 13 years old, Mohammed officially became a volunteer at the StoryTents!
According to Mohammed’s mom Sarah, the inspiration behind his decision to become a volunteer was witnessing others helping beginner readers, encouraging them to improve their reading skills.
Mohammed has always had a love for books since he was very young, but the love grew even bigger in 1st Grade after he scored 100% on Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Accelerated Reader. (Accelerated Reader is a computer based program that schools use to monitor reading practice and progress.) In fact, Mohammed loves reading so much that he will often spend over an hour reading in a nice quiet spot!
His current favorite books include the Harry Potter Series, Eragon, and Eldest.
When asked how Traveling Stories has helped to change both her and Mohammed’s life, Sarah said that, “it has changed our life to the better because we are part of helping kids to read and become part of a healthy community.”
Although Mohammed currently only volunteers with Traveling Stories, he has aspirations to volunteer in other aspect as well so that he can continue to help the community