National Volunteer Week is April 15–but how can you turn that into something doable for your kids, all year long? “Make it a family affair,” says Jenny Friedman, co-author of Doing Good Together and executive director of the Minneapolis-based nonprofit of the same name. Here are some fun ideas for age-appropriate activities:
Age 4: Start small, like with litter cleanup. At the park, pick up five items together before playing. This will get even little kids thinking about why helping matters—and get them in the habit of doing it every week.
Age 8: Friedman recommends starting with “kitchen table activities” that you can do right from home. For example, many shelters give guests sandwiches when they leave in the morning, so help your child throw a sandwich-making party with friends—everyone can make different kinds of sandwiches, then deliver them to the shelter in person.
Age 11: There are so many activities preteens can do, so the key is to let them decide how they want to give back, says Friedman. “The more excited they are about ideas they’ve come up with, the more invested they’ll be,” she says. Talk to your child about her interests,and brainstorm ways to help: Maybe setting up a lemonade stand whose profits go to a favorite charity, or help a homebound senior with chores.
Find more ways to get your family involved at doinggoodtogether.org.