The holidays are a great time to model kindness to our children by giving back to our community. There are many ways to get kids interested in helping others—while also teaching the value of empathy and compassion. Another benefit to giving back is that you can incorporate math-themed lessons and help your kids strengthen their social skills while practicing acts of kindness—learning is everywhere!
Check out these five easy ways to give back during the holidays:
Donate your old clothes.
When my family recently switched our closets from summer to fall/winter, we bagged up our outgrown, unwanted items and donated them to a local winter clothing drive. Get the kids involved by letting them decide what items to donate.
To make this a fun learning activity, have your kid/s separate items by category (sweaters, shorts, hats, etc.) and count how many of each item are going to be donated. Help them understand that organization is key!
Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
Everything that’s needed for the meals is already at the soup kitchen—except for the folks who do the work! Take the kids with you. Older children can help serve, while younger children can make sure that everyone has napkins and silverware.
To make this a meaningful social skills activity, encourage your kid/s to have friendly (yet safe) conversations with the other workers and/or patrons of the kitchen. Social interaction with those from different backgrounds can help build tolerance and compassion.
Pack a shoebox.
There are many holiday shoebox programs that send gifts to children all over the world. Grab your own children, some shoeboxes, and go shopping! Choose the same genders and age ranges of your own kids so that they can influence what gets packed.
For an easy way to incorporate social learning, have your kid/s explain to you why they chose the particular items they did. Explain that as these boxes could end up anywhere around the world, it's important to make sure that the contents are meaningful and have purpose.
Choose an Angel Tree child.
On a local level, many Salvation Armies around the country organize an Angel Tree program to provide Christmas gifts for children whose parent(s) are in prison. Find a local Angel Tree, choose a child to sponsor, and then shop for items from their Christmas wish list.
To make this an educational opportunity, give your kid/s a budget and ask them to find a specific amount of items on the sponsored Christmas list that would keep to that budget.
Stock a local food pantry.
The holidays can be a hard time for some families. Help keep your local food pantry stocked by donating canned goods and non-perishable items. Consider challenging your children to spend their allowances on items to donate.
For an additional learning experience, you can help your kid/s understand more about the nutritional benefits of the items and which are carbs, proteins, sugars, etc.
Allison Moore is a kindergarten and first grade teacher from North Carolina and is also a 2019 Carson Dellosa Education Brand Ambassador.