“How can I help my children develop a heart for those less fortunate?”
“How can I instill in them a grateful spirit?”
“What community service can we do as a family? I have a toddler and a baby in tow.”
“What’s so important about volunteer hours? Do these opportunities of service need to be included as a part of our homeschool?”
Finding opportunities to serve others, especially those less fortunate, will plant the seeds of magnanimity in your children.
Magnanimity—the quality of being magnanimous; loftiness of spirit enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and revenge, and to make sacrifices for worthy ends.
A magnanimous person is generous of mind, has a courageous spirit, is forgiving. I have heard such a person described as one with a great and noble spirit.
Time and experience build a magnanimous spirit.
You can start providing experience with your young ones to teach them that yours is a family who helps others. Serving can become a huge part of your family identity; it is “just the way you do things.”
Time and thought are required to successfully involve your children in acts of service outside your home, but you can start very simply, serving from home.
- Draw pictures for and write letters to missionaries.
- Send cards to elderly acquaintances.
- Bake cookies for a neighbor.
- Write letters to active military servicemen and women.
- Write a letter of gratefulness to a military veteran.
- Pray for civic leaders and local civil servants such as law enforcement officers or firemen, and maybe send them a note telling them you pray for their safety and are grateful for their service.
- Pray for widows and singles, and invite one who might enjoy some time with a family to join you for a meal at your home.
- Support a child in another country and write letters, etc.
As your children grow and mature, there are more opportunities for them to venture out into the community to serve.
- Weed a garden or mow the lawn of an elderly person.
- Sing, recite poetry, or play an instrument at a nursing home.
- After researching the age requirements, help at a local food bank.
- Go on short-term mission trips—father-son, mother-daughter, or family trips.
- Help with a political campaign.
- Volunteer at a hospital.
- Volunteer at the capitol for your representative or senator. (Application process is usually required.)
- Serve a non-profit organization.
- Babysit for another homeschooling family or for a single mom.
- Volunteer at a public library.
- Make pillow cases for a children’s ward in a hospital.
Colleges and universities look for applicants who have spent many hours serving their community.
Volunteer hours and community service indicate students who have experience in leadership, show initiative, and act upon their compassion.
Be creative with ideas and research opportunities that are available. Encourage your young adult (pre-teen or teen) to be on the watch for ways to serve others, to look for a need he could help fill, a problem he could help solve, an injustice he could right.
The more your young person thinks of others and their needs, the less he will dwell on his own wants and desires.
Plan for service opportunities, schedule them, and write them in your planner.
You might even schedule a day each month when lessons are cut short or omitted altogether for a family service project. It is easy to be so caught up in our own lives that we miss the chance to help our children look beyond themselves to the joy of living for and serving others.
Your young and older children can make a difference; they can grow to have a great spirit, a magnanimous spirit. It can become part of your family’s identity.