[Community-service] 5 Tips for Talking About Volunteering with Children | HandsOn Blog

Darian Smith dsmithnfb at gmail.com
Fri May 28 05:34:58 UTC 2010


As the school year comes to a close, you might be wondering what to do
with your kids this summer.

May we recommend volunteering?
Kids Volunteering

You can ensure that a child’s volunteering experience is positive and memorable!

By implementing a few simple but effective tips and strategies, you
can ensure that young volunteers leave their service project feeling
inspired and empowered
to continue doing good work.

1. Be cognizant of word choice

Children are developing and growing their vocabulary each day.

If you feel a word may not be as developmentally appropriate as
another word, substitute it or explain the concept the word conveys.
Alternately, choose
two or three words or terms to explain the same concept.

For example, when explaining volunteering to a child who is six,
consider helping the child make a connection.

“Volunteering is when you do something nice for someone else — maybe
even someone you don’t even know – and you don’t ask for anything in

2. Model or show final results

fooddrive kids
Give children something to work towards.

Many children, especially under the age of nine, are not yet at the
developmental stage in which they can “imagine” what something will be
like at a later

When working with a child on a craft-type project, have a completed
example on hand.

When working on a project where the final product cannot be shown,
describe the desired outcome using steps and descriptive terms that
are on the child’s

3. Reinforce success

Continually remind children that they are on the right track.

Positive reinforcement
 — “good job” or “you are an amazing volunteer” — is a tactic that
gives a child the assurance and motivation that they are going in the
right direction.

It also further helps the young person experience the joy that
volunteering and giving can bring. However, be specific in your

“Your message about peace is beautiful” or “This yellow card you made
will really cheer somebody up!”

4. Provide constructive feedback

Do not hesitate to correct a young person if they are off track.

Allowing a child to proceed if he or she is doing their assigned job
incorrectly is less beneficial than correcting them.

Providing constructive feedback will ultimately allow them to be
successful in the end and have a positive volunteer experience.

One way to phrase correction is to say,

“This looks really great, but let me show you something that will make
it even better.”

5. Stay age-appropriate

Consider the participant’s age as it relates to their developmental level.

Sharing instructions or even defining what it means to volunteer to a
young person who is six differs from sharing the same message with a
young person
who is twelve.

With younger children (ages six to eight), give directions that are
broken down into steps. It is difficult for a child who is six to
fully comprehend a
set of complex instructions presented as a whole. However, don’t
underestimate a young person’s ability to understand instruction by
speaking to them below
their level.

Darian Smith
Skype: The_Blind_Truth
Windows Live: Lightningrod2010 at live.com
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are
spiritual beings having a human experience.” - Teilhard de Chardin

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