Good citizenship is a value which children will carry with them into adulthood. Most schools do not integrate the Six Pillars of Character—trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship—into their curriculum as we do at Heritage Elementary School. These values are crucial to the development of happy and responsible children who will become quality citizens as adults.

Getting a child excited about community service can be a challenging task. One way to develop their compassion and responsibility within the community is to have them choose local service projects they would like to get involved in. This helps children understand that they really can make a difference.

Here are five ways to help children become interested in community service:

  1. Share with Them

    Children who understand their community are more likely to want to help those in need. Tell your child about unique challenges their local area is facing. Consider taking them to a food bank to donate items or to an animal shelter and point out the need for volunteers. Emphasize the importance of helping others.

  2. Teach Them to Value Diversity

    In order to enjoy public service, children must respect the differences of all people in their communities. Children are better equipped to work collaboratively when they are exposed to a wide range of cultures and age groups.

  3. Show Them Respectful Relationships

    Leading by example is one of the best ways to teach a child. Get involved in local charities with your children so they can see how gratifying helping others can be.

  4. Incorporate Giving into Your Daily Life

    When you do your grocery shopping, take your children and have them pick out items to donate to local charities. As the holidays approach, make your children aware of the needs of less-fortunate children in your area or look into getting involved in the Holiday Mail for Heroes program through the Red Cross and Pitney Bowes.

  5. Encourage Extra-Curricular Participation

    Studies have confirmed that children who feel a strong sense of identity within a group have a broader world view and are better adjusted overall. Enroll your child in at least one activity outside of school so they are able to develop a sense of self within a larger group. Consider a local community center, a club, or even starting a community garden.