Helping Children Develop the Spirit of Giving
The holidays are a busy time for all of us, filled with family traditions, get-togethers, shopping and traveling. With the hustle and bustle of it all, it’s important to pause and reflect on our many blessings and invite our children to do so as well. It’s a great time to instill a spirit of charity and kindness, and teach the true meaning of the holiday season. It’s amazing how much joy simple acts of kindness can bring!
Below are some ways you and your family can spread holiday cheer to others in need.
- Make cards and deliver them to your local police or fire station.
- Bring flowers to a neighbor who might need some cheering up.
- Collect canned goods and deliver them to a nearby food bank.
- Bake cookies for residents at a local senior living center.
- Draw or paint a picture for a friend.
- Take your child shopping and encourage him to pick out toys or clothes for a local family in need.
- Host a hot chocolate stand and donate the proceeds to a charity of your child’s choosing.
- Ask a local animal shelter what they need this winter (i.e., blankets, food, etc.). Then, shop for those items with your child and deliver them to the organization.
- Collect clothing or personal care items, and deliver them to a local homeless shelter.
In the classroom, we build the foundation of kindness, generosity and compassion starting with our toddler and Beginner students. Children learn about sharing and respecting each other’s feelings by reading books such as, “I Can Share” by Karen Katz and “Spot Helps Out” by Eric Hill. They practice these skills by being kind with one another, sharing their toys and saying “please” and “thank you.”
Teachers involve our older preschoolers in the giving process from start to finish. In order to gauge their interests, teachers ask open-ended questions such as, “Who do you think might need help during the holidays?” and “How can you help that person?” Children suggest a cause such as helping animals in a local shelter or donating toys for needy children. Teachers encourage the students to collect donations, sort and pack them into boxes, and then deliver them to the organization in need.
By providing these opportunities, children are able to develop appreciation for what they have, show gratitude towards others, and see the positive impact of their actions even at a young age. They’ll feel good about giving back to others and want to continue spreading joy time and time again.
– Lauren Starnes, PhD, Director of Early Childhood Education