Children may learn about charity at home, but it should also be taught and encouraged in the classroom. Charity projects can help students and teachers build connections while also fostering a positive, rewarding environment in the classroom. Being charitable helps children feel more confident and helps increase their social skills as they learn about the world around them.
Learning to be charitable at a young age can also make children better community members and help foster positive benefits and behaviors when children are adults. Maia Szalavitz's recent article in Time discusses the positive benefits people experience when they volunteer and give back regularly. A few of the benefits listed in the article include a 22% decrease in early mortality rates, a reduced chance of experiencing depression, and an increase in overall life satisfaction and happiness.
These and other similar findings indicate that giving back and helping others has a major impact on a person’s life and should be promoted more in the classroom due to the positive effects charity has on both children and adults. We hope you can utilize at least one of the following four tips to encourage charity in your classroom!
1. Let your students choose a charity to support each school year.
This is a great way to incorporate lessons about charity in the classroom throughout the school year. Prepare a list of possible charities for students to choose from if they are younger, but give older students the task of finding and researching the charities they would like to assist. This gives older children a chance to practice their research skills and learn about a variety of charitable causes.
Class fundraisers, donation jars, and other activities will keep children excited about helping the charity they chose to support. Including these activities in your lesson plans can also help children learn how to work together and give them opportunities to practice their math and social skills. Throw a party at the end of the year to celebrate what students raised for their charity. You could also ask your local newspaper to include a small article detailing your students’ success or ask the school to post an article on their website. This gives children some recognition for their efforts and helps reinforce the value of charity because children will feel empowered to do more charitable acts in the future.
2. Hold class fundraisers to help raise money for charity projects.
Class fundraisers are fantastic motivators for children and can also provide additional learning opportunities. Have your students help plan the fundraisers they would like to do and find ways for each of them to participate. One great idea for a fundraiser is to host an art show in your classroom by featuring a painting or drawing from each child. Other ideas include having children hold their own play or concert, hosting a sports or game day, and having a lemonade stand or bake sale.
3. Support school and community fundraisers during the school year.
Encouraging your students to participate in local charity projects will help them become more involved in the community and the world around them. Find organizations and people in your community that need a helping hand. Have children write letters or make greeting cards for the elderly in your community, for example, or hold a canned food drive for your local food bank. You could also encourage kids to volunteer or have a fundraiser for the local library or animal shelter.
4. Find ways for children to empathize with those in need.
Talking about why charity is important and why some people need a helping hand is one way you can help children empathize with those in need. Ask children to write about and discuss what it would be like if they had no food, water, or shelter. You could also ask them to go without technology for a few days to help them understand what people who do not have computers or cellphones experience. Make sure your classroom has activities and books, such as The Lion and the Mouse and the books in our Learn to Get Along Book Set, to help provide opportunities for you to discuss charity with your students. Our Character Education Curriculum for Charity can also help you incorporate learning opportunities and charitable activities into your lesson plans.
Szalavitz, Maia. “Helping Others Helps You to Live Longer.” Time. Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.