One altruistic hobby that has many engaging options is to volunteer with kids. Volunteering with children can include helping with your church’s Sunday school, joining Big Brothers Big Sisters, volunteering at an educational camp during the summer, or even babysitting for a neighbor free of charge.
When you volunteer with kids, not only can you find an enjoyable way to spend time, you also gain a greater appreciation and perspective. You see, volunteering is all about helping others, not oneself. People often find, especially when they volunteer with kids, that some of their own personal problems just “go away”. Volunteering is one of the greatest hobbies you can find.
History Of Volunteering
People have been able to volunteer with kids for centuries, but volunteering with children has not played a big part in history until the last century. Mother Teresa, one of the most respected individuals to have ever lived, dedicated her life to volunteering and helping others – especially children. Other famous people who volunteer with kids include Maria Shriver, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Michelle Obama, and Madonna.
A general trend of volunteering dramatically increased in the 19th century with religion re-gaining steam and providing an altruistic push. The trend continued in the early 20th century as volunteering organizations were formed. Organizations such as the Rotary and Lions Club helped coordinate volunteering efforts and financial activities.
During the 20th century and on until today, more and more people have gotten involved in a wealth of volunteering efforts. Those early volunteering groups paved the way for a variety of modern day organizations. Whether you’re interested in giving back to your community, helping disabled veterans, or want to volunteer with kids, you’re likely to find an organization that can help you get started.
Volunteering Fun Facts
- According to the United Way, over 61 million Americans (about 25% of the population) contributed 8 billion hours of volunteer time in 2008. The dollar estimate on this time is a staggering $162 billion dollars!
- There is a growing trend of volunteering by young people. In fact, people who are between 16 and 24 years old are more likely to volunteer than any other age group.
- Almost half of all volunteers who are surveyed say that volunteering has improved their overall health and fitness levels.
- According to a national study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a child who has a parent who volunteers is almost three times more likely to volunteer. Another great reason to volunteer with kids!
Volunteer With Kids – Getting Started
Getting started to volunteer with kids is quite simple. All you need is a love of children, some patience, available time, and perhaps access to transportation. Also, if it is your first time volunteering with children, depending on the type of volunteering and organization involved, you may need to complete a background check.
The cost to volunteer with kids varies depending on which volunteer opportunity you want to do. Volunteering to be a “Big” with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is on the higher range, price-wise, because, even though many businesses offer discounts for BBBS, you still need to pay for transportation, activities, and meals that are not discounted. On the low end of your out-of-pocket costs are activities such as volunteering as a Sunday school teacher (which might require you to buy craft supplies, although many churches cover this expense), and volunteering through a school, which will cover almost all the expenses.
Working with a school is one of the easiest ways to get started volunteering with children because most school’s programs have a set itinerary for volunteers (such as: read three books, then have a snack, or help them do math homework, then play a reading game, then help with social studies homework). Also, when volunteering at a school, there are always people nearby who can answer any questions you have.
It usually does not take long to start volunteering with kids once you have decided which volunteer option you want to pursue. If you want to volunteer at a school, simply call local schools to find out what programs they offer. The average time it takes a school or BBBS to pair you with a child is about two weeks. If you are unsure about which volunteer options are available in your area, contact your local volunteer center, and they can inform you of options where you can donate your time, as well as walk you through the beginning stages of what you’ll need to volunteer with kids.
Steps To Volunteer With Kids
Once you’ve decided with which organization you’d like to work, contact their volunteer office and complete any necessary paperwork and preparation activities. It also helps to double check your calendar to make sure you remember any potential time conflicts that might arise in the near future.
If you are interested in volunteering with kids through BBBS, then simply prepare by brainstorming outing activities to do once you are matched. Some options include hiking, swimming, biking, ice-skating, volunteering with your “little” at the local animal shelter, or taking them to the library.
In case your child is shy, be prepared with questions to ask them or funny stories you have so that you can converse with them easily.
If you choose to volunteer with your church or at a Vacation Bible School, think of games, songs, or crafts you can do with the children. Usually, the organization you work through can provide you with ideas, but if not, the Internet offers many suggestions.
If you decide to volunteer with kids at a camp, the first step is to find out what is expected of you. Are you simply required to provide supervision? Or is your activity more structured, such as working one-on-one with troubled children? If you enjoy crafts, you can volunteer to be one of the craft instructors at camp, or, if instead you like games, you can be an activity coordinator.
Once your preparation is complete, get started volunteering and have fun knowing you’re adding positive energy and knowledge to a child.
Volunteering Tips and Tricks
The following helpful tips can help you get started when you want to volunteer with kids…
- Whenever volunteering, if you’re not having fun, you can probably guess the children you’re working with aren’t either. Be yourself. Enjoy what you’re doing. Have fun simply coloring or playing hide and seek.
- Make sure to keep records of your mileage and out-of-pocket expenses incurred while volunteering. You can often deduct these costs on your tax return. Contact your volunteering organization or your accountant for any questions you have about deductions.
- If you don’t have kids and have never worked with children, a great way to prepare yourself is to daydream about when you were a child. What made you happy? What were some simple activities that always brought you joy? Under what methods did you learn best? These questions can help “tune-in” to your kids.
- Be patient! Kids will always be kids. Avoid thinking of the time you spend when you volunteer with kids as a project with a timeline. If you’re not looking forward to the time you spend volunteering, you should take a break or change focus for while.
Growing Your Volunteering Hobby
As you gain more experience working with children here are a few ideas that can help you expand your volunteering horizons…
- You can branch out, maybe taking a more important role in leadership, such as supervising the Sunday school ministry or training camp counselors and school volunteers. Inevitably, as you volunteer with kids and your experience with children grows, so will your ability to mentor new volunteers.
- You can also begin to recruit more volunteers and even start your own volunteer organization. Is there a local school that does not offer a mentoring program for its students? Start one! See the need for summer camp for a specific type of child in your area? Start the camp!
- As always, though, if working directly with children is what you prefer, keep doing that. If, however, you want to become more involved but don’t want to step into a leadership position, you can always join another organization. There is no rule limiting the amount of volunteering you can do with kids, as long as you don’t neglect the time you’ve already dedicated.
Related Volunteering With Kids Resources
If you want to volunteer with kids, the following resources can help you learn more and get started…
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) – United States mentoring organization that provides support and advice to youth. The site provides information on joining, local chapters, donating and more.
Junior Achievement – Non-profit organization that helps educate youth on business and economics through hands-on curriculum. Those of you in business could have a ton of fun volunteering as a mentor!
International Youth Foundation – Organization that works around the world in strengthening children and youth, including education, health, and work.
Related YouTube Videos
Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.