With Earth Day fast approaching, it’s a great time to start thinking about how we can help our kids get involved. Although it’s not for everyone, many families place at least some importance on activism and giving back.
Kids naturally tend to be focused on themselves, so getting them involved in charitable work can help draw them out, create empathy, and encourage a lifetime of positive contribution to the world.
But where to start?
The truth is that kids already understand what activism is and why it’s important; they just call it by different names. Any time you’ve talked to them about teamwork, sharing, or cleaning up after themselves, you could just as well be explaining activism.
Helping children understand activism is really helping them think of the world as one big classroom or playground. In order for it to work the way everyone wants it to, everyone has to help out a little.
Play to your kids’ interests
Every child has some natural interests, and almost any of them can be a bridge to a specific kind of activism. If your son has always loved animals, think about getting involved with a local animal shelter. If your daughter has always loved nature, look into what you can do for the environment, whether it’s saving a part of her allowance to contribute, or joining in a local park clean-up.
Make it fun
Like anything else, it’s easier to get kids excited about activism if it’s fun. Once you’ve identified a cause they care about, find ways to make supporting it something they look forward to. One easy way to get involved with a cause is through fundraising, which can be as fun as you want to make it.
For instance, maybe your child has decided to support a disaster relief organization and has set a fundraising goal of $100. You could take a traditional approach to raising the money—maybe emailing friends and family or making a Facebook post. Or you could get creative about how you do it. You might hold a bake sale and help your child bake everything for it. Or maybe you have a party and charge a cover fee. Or you could encourage your child to hold a tag sale and sell off toys they no longer play with (this is killing two birds with one stone). Any time you can turn activism into a project, you’ve made it half as much work and twice as fun.
Be their best example
If you, yourself, participate in some sort of activism, you should start by using your work as an example. Remember that activism can take many forms, so even if you think you don’t give back, you might be overlooking something. Do you make a donation at church? Have you ever signed a petition? Maybe you make an annual donation to a homeless shelter or an environmental organization? These are all small things, but they’re all activism that could be a firsthand example for your child.
And if you don’t participate in activism? Well, it could be the perfect time to start.
Learning is Where We Play: