“I believe the children are our are future.
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside”
Oh, to see the world through the eyes of a child.
As a parent, I want to give my child the best of everything. I want him to always feel safe and loved, to never go hungry, and get to look back on his childhood with a smile. But wanting the best for our kids isn’t always bright and shiny…
More than anything, I want my son to be kind. To be empathetic. To be welcoming, loving, and supportive of those who need it most. So that means he has to have a realistic idea of the world. He has to understand the needs and differences of those around him so he can get a better grasp on the role he will play as an adult. See? Definitely not always bright and shiny.
By no means does this mean we have regular conversations about sex trafficking, gun control, child abuse, cancer, or any of the other dreary sides of life. But it does mean that we do what we kind to find age appropriate ways of showing him what it’s like to truly be a part of his community.
Expose them to people who don’t look, act, talk, dress, or live just like them. Sometimes that’s as simple as enrolling them in a diverse school… Maybe it’s watching movies or reading books to where the main character is of a different heritage than them. Diversity is BEAUTIFUL and the quicker they’re exposed to that, the better.
Clean out their closets and toys and donate them to causes instead of selling them. I get it, it’s hard… we can all use that little bit of extra money from selling our stuff. But, there are a lot of great causes that could use your gently used items to either help a family in need, or support their own organization.
Find volunteer opportunities you can do together. There are SO many things you can do together as a family to giveback to your community. Pick up trash, make hygiene kits for your local women’s shelter, collect monetary or item donations for a nonprofit, work at an animal shelter… find causes you care about and see how you can bring your kid along for the ride.
Define who community is. Self → House → Neighborhood → City → State → Country → World
Check out the Who Was book series.
Talk about community helpers. There are so many good templates and ideas for teaching kids about community helpers. (Hello, Pinterest!) Talk through what your local community looks like in terms of fire department, police, doctors and nurses, sanitation and transportation workers, all the faces that make a community run.
Local vs. Global community. Though community starts with where we are locally, it doesn’t end there. Start early and give them a broader scope of their role in the world!
Make a Kindness calendar. Again… Pinterest for the win!
Practice manners. I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on my son’s manners… I don’t do it so he sounds like a goodie-goodie. I do it because EVERYONE deserves respect and kindness until they demonstrate otherwise. Holding doors open, picking up something someone dropped, saying please and thank you, etc., all teach children that their attitude is just as much a part of being a productive community member as their actions are.
Take care of the earth. Garden, pick up trash, recycle… Community expands all the way to the earth we stand on and it’s important that our children learn to take care of the earth early in life.
Start ‘em young, friends! Be just as passionate about passing on the importance of community as you are about passing along your favorite sports team or holiday traditions. Help your kids start Seeing 20:20 by 2020 just like you are.