22 October 2014

8 Tips To Prepare Your Family to Serve Others

Last week I wrote about ways we can help the poor and needy. Today I wanted to share some of what I've learned about successfully volunteering with kids.

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance take The Bug to serve at the food pantry. I checked the first time, when I went by myself, to see if families could volunteer, what ages were appropriate and how their schedule worked.

Here are a few ideas for preparing the family for a positive experience volunteering.

1) Learn everything you need to know in advance. Do your research, talk to the staff at the location and go and serve once yourself so you can see how it will work for your family.

2) Talk to the kids in advance. Tell them what to expect. What they will be doing. Let them know how long you will be there. Will they be wearing a hairnet or apron? Will they need to be quiet in certain areas? Will there be a break? Snacks?

3) Teach the kids about appropriate safety behavior. Let them know about any physical dangers and where they will and won't be allowed. Give them any details you can about the situation they can expect there. At the food pantry children must stay with an adult and need to be very careful in the warehouse area.

4) Role play how to act in social situations they may be unfamiliar with. There may be situations that require some social graces and sensitivity when dealing with the elderly, poor or needy. Role play with the kids how they can best interact graciously. then they won't be nervous or embarrass those they are serving, you or themselves.

5) Teach them about the blessings of service. Find and share some success stories about people who have been helped at the charity you will visit. On most charity websites they have history and statistical information you could share. You can also share your own experiences if you have already visited.

6) As you serve highlight positive moments and good feelings you see your kids experience. Praise them for their good work and share with them how it is appreciated and helping the organization succeed.

7) Have a post mortem meeting. When you complete your service let family members share their experiences, build on the positives and talk about negatives. What did members enjoy, what could you do differently next time to increase the positive aspects of the experience.

8) Plan your next service opportunity. During the post mortem, while the experience if fresh in everyone's minds, schedule the time for your next service opportunity. You may choose to try a different activity or revisit the same organization again.

Teaching kids generosity and service are opportunities for some amazing life lessons.  These are experiences and lessons they will carry with them throughout life. Here's a link to another helpful article full of ideas for how you can do service with your family - 10 Ways To Teach Your Kids To Serve Others.

How have you helped your family learn through service? Any tips you can share?

Image via Deseret News

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