With the end of the school year at hand, you’re probably trying to come up with some interesting ways to keep your kids busy over the summer months. Whether you are sending the kids to camp, daycare, summer school, or they will be staying home, it’s a good idea to have lots of ideas ready to go for spur of the moment activities.
The summer months can present a difficult parenting challenge: how do you keep your kids consistently engaged and having fun, while also reinforcing their lessons from the previous school year? As you fill up your child’s agenda with educational and fun opportunities, don’t forget to include some activities that reinforce ideas about charity and giving back.
While some charity and goodwill activities require advanced planning and preparation, others can be done with little to no advanced preparation. Think of a few activities that you can do with your kids on a rainy, boring day, but also plan some out in advance.
Advanced Planning Activities
- Sign your family up for a river or park clean up. You will probably need to sign a waiver for you and your kids and you’ll need to bring your own supplies including buckets or trash bags for garbage, waterproof shoes, sturdy waterproof gloves, hats, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, etc. Make sure to brief your kids on best practice and how to be safe when picking up litter, especially if you will be working in an area with wildlife.
- Attend a charity event or sign your family up to help organize a charity event.
- Hold a bake sale to raise money for a particular cause. Take your kids with you to shop for ingredients and have them help you make the baked goods, write up signs, and post them. Make sure your kids get to help choose which cause you will donate to.
- Organize your own cleanup. Depending on the area you want to clean up, you may have to get permission from the city or the property owner. You can always consider looking into an Adopt A Highway family program.
- Offer to teach a class or lead an activity at a local shelter. This can be something as simple as an arts and crafts activity for the kids at the local shelter or a yoga class for women and kids at the women’s shelter. It just depends on your abilities and comfort level with teaching. Try to organize an activity where your kids can participate.
- Help your children imagine and realize a fundraiser for a cause of their choice. Get other kids involved or make it a neighborhood, daycare, or scout troop effort.
Mid-Level Advanced Planning
- Go visit someone in your neighborhood who you think could use some cheering up. Be sure to call them in advance to make sure it is okay to come over and bring your kids. If appropriate, bring over a casserole or baked good.
- Call the local hospital, homeless shelter, animal rescue, or a faith organization and find out if they are in need of volunteers for an activity or of any particular donations. Take your kids out with you to buy items or to act as last-minute volunteers.
No Advanced Planning
- Go out to the store and stock up on canned goods, nonperishables, toiletries, etc. and drop them off at the local homeless shelter or food bank. Be sure to call in advance to find out what particular goods the food bank could use most as they will tend to get lots of one type of good and very little of other types and may be in need of something in particular.
- Teach your kids about fostering and adoptions programs. Ask them what they think little kids in these shelters might like to have and go shopping for toys, baby gifts, clothes for kids of all ages, books, school supplies, etc.
- Have the kids go through their own toys, clothes, and books, and come up with piles of donations to take to Goodwill, the shelter, church, the library, etc.
The Benefits of Charity Work
Instilling in your child that good deeds can also be fun activities will help them to understand that charity and kind works should be a regular part of their lives, not an occasional activity. Get them started early with doing these kinds of works and be sure to keep them involved creatively. Ask them regularly what kinds of charities they want to give to, how they want to raise money, and what kinds of things might make the biggest difference in the lives of others.