Service isn’t typically a word you connect with a child’s time in school.
Ask any parent, and they’ll most likely agree that they want their children to be kind. Parents hope they’ll be the kid who helps others and gets involved.
But how do we teach this to our kids?
Kids who volunteer are more successful in school and more likely to graduate high school or college. There are many ways kids benefit from taking time to participate in volunteer work.
So how can a school help encourage our kids to serve their community?
At Manzano Day School, service is part of their philosophy.
Assistant Head of School Leanne Kimbrough says, “We want students to have an understanding that one person, no matter their age, can have an impact on the world.” The staff believes service and scholarship aren’t mutually exclusive.
We can teach students both at the same time.
And prioritizing service can lead to a “ripple effect.”
The school’s counselor, Jodie Hart, often gives kids the example of driving in busy traffic. Many times we’re focused on ourselves and where we need to go. But if you take time and let someone in, you’ll often notice that person passes it on by letting somebody else into the line.
Taking time to prioritize someone else above ourselves doesn’t just impact us and the person receiving that kindness.
That’s why each grade level participates in service projects during the year.
These projects tie in subjects like math and science. But they also have an impact on the community.
Each year first graders at Manzano Day School participate in the “pet shop.” Students study animals and their needs. Then they work on a science and engineering project to create an item that would benefit pets. After creating their product, they sell it at a pet shop event similar to a bake sale. All the money raised goes toward a local animal shelter.
When Mrs. Kimbrough taught this project she noticed that service “ripple effect.”
Some students ended up adopting pets from the shelter. And others even asked if there were other ways they could help the animals.
And the school as a whole is working to set an example.
Manzano Day School makes an effort to partner with local businesses in the West Downtown neighborhood to make an impact in their community.
This can be as simple as hosting a flu shot clinic with Duran’s Pharmacy or donating unclaimed lost and found items to shelters.
So how can you help your child see the importance of volunteering for our community and the people around us?
Donate Time, Resources, and Knowledge
Our kids watch what we do. One of the best ways to teach them values is to model how we want them to act.
Sometimes we feel like we can’t make a difference. Maybe there’s no money to spare. Or we’re short on time.
But service doesn’t have to look one specific way.
What DO you have to give? Maybe it’s time. It could be money or tangible items. Or maybe it’s simply checking in on that lonely neighbor to see how they’re doing. Just find what YOU can do.
Volunteer as a Family
Right now COVID can make this part difficult. But find ways you can get involved as a family.
There are plenty of ways to give back. (Check out ways you can help Afghan refugees.) Let your kids participate in this! It gives you a great opportunity to talk about why service to our community is important.
Remember the Small Things
Counselor Jodie Hart reminds her students that kindness is free.
“It doesn’t have to be a huge project. What can you do for free that can make a difference?”
Remind your child that even the small ways they act– holding the door for someone or using kind words– can make a difference. All those small actions help us create a heart more likely to take the bigger ones.
Together we can create a community that looks out for each other, pulls together, and seeks to make Albuquerque a better place to live. One day at a time.