Does your child know the meaning of the word generosity? How many other words can they name that mean the same thing? I intend to teach my son all of them. That is, when he is old enough to talk. With holiday time upon us, all the buzz is about shopping, gifts, mall excursions, deals on toys. Often, people pass by those outside the mall, ringing bells, asking for small donations to various charities. I usually donate, even if it is some small change but I rarely put much thought into it. I smile, drop my change and continue to the parking lot, my car lost in the sea of others. Yesterday, I had a thought. As my son gets older, he notices everything. If I continue to simply drop the money, with no explanation, the meaning behind the donation becomes lost.
This year, educate your child on why you donated money. Ask about the charity it is for and do some research at home. It is important for young ones to understand that there are those less fortunate in this world and organizations that help these people get food, clothing and shelter. Of course, this may spark questions about why people do not have these necessities and that is OK. It is up to each parent to decide on an appropriate answer, given their child’s age, but any truthful answer is great!
Children relate the best to other children. When they picture those in need, they may think of adults, not other kids. Although hard for them to understand, it is important for them to realize that kids are not exempt from being less fortunate. Explain the concept of a toy drive and that just like with money, toys are donated for kids who are sick or cannot afford presents during the holidays. If you are in a position to do so, visit an inexpensive toy store and have them select a toy that they would like to donate. Making them part of the process is always beneficial. Another option is looking through the toys that are in your house. Many of us have a toy overflow with plenty that are not opened yet. Have your child select an unused toy to donate.
Another way to express the concept of generosity is to visit a soup kitchen or donate food. Allowing our sons and daughters to see places where less fortunate can go for a hot meal speaks volumes. The impact it can have, even for an hour, is tremendous. Whether you are volunteering or just visiting, expose them to this part of our world. They will be more grateful than ever to go home to their warm and cozy house. A different approach to this is to donate food during a food drive. Our pantries are filled with soups, vegetables and beans amongst other canned items. Go through it with your children and have them select the cans they want to donate.
In order to be grateful for what we have, sometimes we need to remember what others do not. Instilling the
importance of giving back is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children. This holiday season give them the opportunity to express their generosity in more ways than one. It will be the best gift you can give to them and to yourself as a parent. Happy Holidays!
Amanda Lehrman graduated from University at Buffalo with a B.S. in Business Administration and worked in the advertising and online marketing field. After two years, she attended Fordham University and received an M.S.T in Elementary Education. For the first four years of her teaching career, she taught first grade gifted and talented and in her fifth year she taught Kindergarten. After 5 years of classroom teaching, she chose to expand her educational career and became a curriculum consultant for Kaplan K12 Learning Services. After her work with Kaplan, she became a a team member of Catapult Learning. She planned professional development for schools in various states and designed programs appropriate with Title 1, Title IIA, ARRA and IDEA guidelines and funding. All of these opportunities, both inside and outside of the classroom have inspired her to continue to educate students and share her thirst and passion for knowledge with schools, families and day-care providers. As an educator and mother, she believes that anyone can enhance a child’s education by doing simple, engaging activities that will instill a love of learning that lasts forever. You can read more by Amanda at www.themommafiles.com.