I was so excited to be asked to guest blog on Power Launch! Jenni & Jody have been such an inspiration to me, and I’m honored to share my thoughts on student volunteering with their Power Launch audience!
Service hours are a necessary part of education these days. Called “Service Learning,” most school systems integrate volunteering right into their curriculum, even making it a requirement for graduation.
Many homeschoolers are already involved in some kind of volunteering, either through their church or homeschool group. Just about any kind of volunteering will fill those needed hours, but to make it shine on transcripts, it might be better to connect those hours to your student’s desired major or career options, which can possibly win your student scholarships and other awards, as well. More importantly, connecting with the non-profits that need volunteers can be a rewarding experience in itself.
Where to begin? Start with what your child is considering for a career. If veterinary medicine is what they love, see if they can volunteer at your local Humane Society. Perhaps they are thinking about a career in environmental science or education. How about coordinating a collection drive? A group of students at San Gabriel Christian School in San Gabriel, California , collected old shoes donating them to a project that used them to make playground equipment. That’s not just service hours! These students are learning to be entrepreneurs!
If your child is interested in the culinary arts, you might want to have them help at a soup kitchen. I volunteered at a soup kitchen a few years ago, and the cook was actually a chef who volunteered his time! Maybe your child has their heart set on becoming a doctor or nurse. Health fairs are always looking for volunteers. Contact your local Red Cross for more information. A student who wants to be a teacher can read to a preschool or kindergarten class. Many of these children are so hungry for attention. A teen reading to them and just showing they care can be life-changing… for both.
Don’t forget to think out of the box, too. My 15-year-old wants to be an animator. She is a homeschooled sophomore in high school, and dual enrolled at our local community college. She read that a great way for animators to learn more about drawing movement was to watch marine creatures. She now volunteers at a marine aquarium. They track her service hours and offer an internship program which will be another great addition to her high school transcript.
If you are homeschooling, you will still need to keep a form listing service hours for each student. Some organizations provide one and will keep track for you, or your school district may provide one online. You can also find one here. Remember to have a supervisor sign off each time your child volunteers. You never know when a supervisor will be replaced, and the form is invalid without a signature.
Serving just to add volunteer hours to a transcript will end up being a bore and drudgery for your student. With a little creativity, it can be fun and educational.
What service learning projects have your children done? Leave a comment to tell us about it…
Kelly Stilwell is a freelance writer who enjoys living near the beach in Florida with her husband and two teenage daughters. A volunteer coordinator at one of the fastest growing churches in the country, she gets a kick out of helping people find their passion in serving. Kelly writes about homeschooling and virtual learning, traveling with kids, volunteering and a myriad of other subjects. You can visit her website at http://www.kellystilwell.com.