Another “Back to School” season is upon us. Teachers are prepping lessons and readying their classrooms, while children of all ages are stuffing backpacks gearing up for school to begin. There is always an excitement in the air as some children prepare for their first day of kindergarten and others for the last year of their high school careers. The exhilaration and anticipation of a new school year is contagious, and every fall, many of us vow to do something to help school-aged children, but we may not know where to start. Here is list of practical and economical ways you can help school children in our community.
1. Volunteer During Your Lunch Hour.
While many of us want to volunteer, it is sometimes difficult to do with a busy schedule. There are several volunteer opportunities you can participate in that take little time, but can truly make a difference to children.
Contact a school that is located near your work and offer to volunteer during your lunch hour. You may offer to read to a class, put up bulletin boards, supervise a lunch period or recess, or make a presentation to a class about your chosen career. Never underestimate what one hour of volunteering will do for a school, child, or yourself.
2. Use Your Job as a Learning Opportunity for Children.
Classes love to have visitors and guest presenters. Flip through your Rolodex and use your network of associates to provide top-notch corporate and civic speakers to a local school. Most of us know someone that would love to visit a class. Consider who is on your business (or personal) list of contacts: artists, politicians, judges, environmentalists, police officers, business persons, etc.
Children also love field trips. Offer to have a class visit your business. In addition, you may consider allowing individual students to follow you for a day at work. Many children say they want to be a doctor or a lawyer, but they may not know what that actually looks like. Touring, seeing a career first-hand, or “job shadowing” provides real world, applicable learning experiences.
3. Create “Hands-On” Experience Opportunities
Give children the opportunity to volunteer in the community. Work with local organizations to create and coordinate “hands-on” volunteer opportunities for children and teens such as working at the local soup kitchen, distributing clothing to the needy, harvesting crops at community farm, planting trees on a greenway, or caring for animals at a local shelter. Your coordination of logistics provides opportunities for children to learn what it means be global citizens.
4. Give a Music Lesson and Sponsor a Musical Instrument
Use your talents and share them with children. Volunteer to hold a music lesson for a class and then lend interested students’ a musical instrument. Musical instruments are quite expensive, and many children just want to “test out” an instrument before committing to it fully. If you play guitar, teach the children a few chords and then lend some guitars to classroom for children to play with for a week or two. If you have a number of unused instruments around your house, like keyboards, drums, or recorders, donate several of them for a class to use for a short period of time. The children will be excited by your musical talents and will then have the opportunity to explore their own.
5. Clean Out Your House and Make “Creativity Boxes”
Teachers and parents are always on the look-out for creative activities for children. As you begin “fall cleaning” at your house, consider miscellaneous materials you may have that could be donated to a classroom.
Consider taking various size boxes, like shoe boxes, and filling them with a variety of supplies that you have around your house such as: an assortment of office supplies, magazines, newspapers, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, cotton balls, paint, fabric remnants, envelopes, scrapbooking paper, paper clips, glue, tape, craft supplies, pipe cleaners, stickers, highlighters, contact paper, post-its, wallpaper or borders, dried flowers, macaroni shells, and other imaginative provisions. The more varied the boxes’ supplies, the more creative children can be with their contents.