By Teachers, For Teachers
Many students spend time volunteering or participating in some shape or form in their community because it’s a school requirement, or because they think it will look good on their college application. Those that are not required may do so because they have a passion for a cause, or because they know a loved one who will benefit from it. Whatever the motivation may be, volunteering or participating in the act of helping others is a decent thing to do. For those students who don’t yet know the benefits of giving back, you should use classroom management tactics to encourage your kids to volunteer. Here are 10 reasons why your students should be volunteering.
One of the greatest benefits of volunteering is that it helps students to gain more experiences and learn new skills. Students will learn many skills, such as how to communicate with others and problem-solve. For each unique experience, they will gain a new skill set. For example, if they were volunteering in a soup kitchen, they will learn teamwork, work ethic, customer service, following directions, and so much more. If they were tutoring underprivileged kids, then they would learn leadership skills, patience, communication, and responsibility. For each new experience, they will develop a new skill set that they can carry with them in their lives.
Another great reason to use classroom management to encourage kids to volunteer is that it will help increase students’ knowledge and understanding. It puts students in situations that they normally wouldn’t be in if they weren’t giving their time. It can also expose them to different types of people and cultures. It will essentially broaden their knowledge through firsthand experiences.
Volunteering has many benefits, and you may not be surprised to learn that it can make the “Giver” learn to be more compassionate. When a student encounters a situation that they have never been in, such as working with at-risk youth or with the homeless, they’ll learn to think of others needs before themselves. For the students who are not compassionate, this can be a real eye-opener.
One thing volunteering does to a person is make them feel good about themselves. The sense of self-worth, confidence, and the overall feeling like you’re making a difference in the world can turns anyone’s bad day into a great day. By simply volunteering in their free time, students will learn how much they will get out of giving to others.
One added benefit of helping others is that students will meet a variety of different people. The more students volunteer for different causes, the more people they will meet and connect with. This is a great way to expose themselves to likeminded individuals.
How many students have you met that were accountable? Accountability is something that children must learn, and volunteering can be a great way to do just that. It teaches them to show up when they’re supposed to, at the time and day they were scheduled. It forces them to be accountable for their job or duty. These are all things that every student must learn in order to be a productive citizen in the community.
Volunteering offers help to people in need. However, it can also benefit the person who is giving their time by giving them a sense of purpose. Sometimes when a student feels a connection to the cause they are helping, it will lead them to a career path that they didn’t even know they wanted to pursue.
Volunteering helps to counteract stress and anxiety. It does this by social contact and connecting to others. Research shows that human (and animal) contact is shown to improve mood and reduce stress. If students find they are stressed out over exams or friends, then encourage them to volunteer -- it can actually improve their mental health.
Whether a student feels lost or is just unsure of what they want in life, volunteering can give you a sense of purpose. No matter their age, it will keep them stimulated and engaged in the present moment. It gives them a direction and a meaning to wake up in the morning. This can actually be a life-saver for any troubled student.
Lastly, when students volunteer their time to help those in need, it teaches them about civic responsibility. It teaches them how to be productive, caring, and responsible members of society. They learn that when you give your time to help others, you’ll improve not only the quality of their life, but their own as well.
It’s important to note that volunteering should be a decision that the student chooses to do. Never pressure a child to volunteer for something that they do not want to do. It’s about finding something that they are passionate about and giving their own time to help out. Remind students that this is part-time and can always be managed around their schedule. So if they only have an hour a week to give back, that’s OK. As far as choosing what to volunteer for, if students can’t decide, then simply ask them what activities they enjoy doing outside of the classroom. This is a great way to help them figure out what and where they would be best suited to volunteer. As students think about what they like to do, they’ll see where their interests and passions lie, which will help to determine which experiences they would benefit from the most.
Volunteering helps to build character. When you are in the right volunteer experience, it enables you to develop new skills and learn by doing. Each new experience that a student volunteers for will help them learn, grow, and develop as a human being.
Do your students participate in volunteer work? Please share your thoughts and experiences on this topic in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.