Summer is coming and, for many homeschooling families, it is a time to relax, recoup, and reconnect with family. Many of us find ourselves frazzled by the end of the year focused on finishing up our lesson plans, tying up loose ends, and bringing the school year to a successful close. Let’s face it, by the time June rolls around, we’re often as burnt out on “school” and learning as our kids are! But, if you’re like me, you don’t want to waste your summer around a swimming pool while 30% of what you’re kids have learned this year is swept away with the summer winds. How can we make the most of summer without sacrificing our joy or getting too stressed out? At Bridgeway we think summer months, with their flexibility and freedom, are a great time to teach one of the most valuable character traits possible: community service. The benefits of community service during the summer will last much longer than the family garden and pool membership.
Benefits of Community Service
Volunteering also helps to instill positive personality traits that are key to a student’s development. Here are just a few of the important benefits:
- Establishes leadership – Through teamwork and collaborative efforts, your child will learn how to seize opportunity and grow into a natural leader. One way to encourage their leadership is to have your children choose which community service projects your family will participate in. The research and shared power will give them a sense of ownership that will help them to be more excited about the experience.
- Provides sense of value Kids gradually begin to understand the value of everyday things they often take for granted, once they see just how little some people have in comparison to themselves. In many areas of the country, those in need might live just down the street, and by becoming involved and personally helping them, your kids will realize just how blessed they truly are for all they have been given.
- Boosts self-esteem One thing is certain, community service makes people feel better about themselves and instills a natural sense of confidence. Volunteering provides a sense of accomplishment and productivity in our lives.
- Encourages compassion and empathy Community service allows kids to develop a sense of understanding of those who are less fortunate, realizing that not all people are born into ideal situations or given the same opportunities.
- Heightens critical thinking– Volunteer work often requires a substantial amount of brainstorming, logistics, and creativity. At times, kids are challenged to work around obstacles, work with different personalities, and discover solutions while working with others.
- Improves planning and organization skills– Scheduling and coordinating community service events requires kids to be efficient with their time, plan ahead, and develop time management skills. Kids will grasp this concept quickly, and understand just how critical time management is to volunteer work.
- Experience and resume builder in preparation for college– Of course, high school students care about this one the most! Logging community service hours is an important way to prove to college and university officials that your child cares, works hard outside of school and your home, and is involved within the community.
We all know that community service is an essential extracurricular activity for kids to pursue while growing up. Serving the community strengthens us today while preparing us for tomorrow by providing a better understanding of what community really means and a broader perspective of the world. And, because of the carefree nature, along with the relaxed schedules, summer is a perfect time to focus on serving others, together.
There are endless opportunities for your family to serve. Here are a few we think are worth your time.
- Short Term Missions Trips or VBS— During the summer months, your family can participate in week-long service projects like mission’s trips without worrying about missing co-op, live classes, or the disruption of missing school. Vacation Bible School is another perennial summer experience that can involve the whole family. Our family serves in a variety of ways at VBS from building sets to teaching to being a part of the assembly line to make the themed snack for each day.
- Big Brother, Big Sister or YMCA—These organizations often provide free childcare during summer months for impoverished families. Children are the future and there’s no better way to bless the community than pouring into our legacy. And summer is a time when the weather enables service organizations to get outdoor projects done that they could not do during winter months.
- Clean up a Local Park, building playgrounds, or other outdoor community work. We often use these facilities without consideration to the work and effort it takes to keep them running. Volunteering to pick up trash, lay mulch, paint, etc. at your local park or playground is a great way to communicate how grateful your family is for the area.
- Day Camps—Most local areas will have summer day and week-long camps for children whose parents are incarcerated, struggling with cancer, etc. Spending a week blessing kids who are going through struggles will encourage your children to develop perseverance and resiliency.
- Meals (and fans!) on Wheels—The Baby Boomer generation is aging fast and many cannot care for themselves or get out to accomplish basic needs during the hottest months of the year. Why not schedule time as a family weekly to serve and bless an elderly couple or organization, like Meals on Wheels, that helps to provide for their needs.
Whether you’re homeschooling a young child or a teenager, it’s never too early or too late to get them involved in some form of volunteer work this summer. Make the most of your time off by working hard and blessing others as a family. I guarantee you’ll find that your family is as blessed, if not more, than those you are serving.
What service projects does your family plan to conquer this summer? Tell us in a comment below!