Does your family make time for volunteer work? Well today on Home School Heartbeat, your host Mike Smith talks about the importance of teaching
your children to help others.
Perhaps one of the greatest potential weaknesses of the homeschooling movement is a lack of community involvement. Homeschooling not only provides a
healthy alternative for educating children, it helps maintain family closeness. The benefits derived from this family strength must be shared with those
Parents must remember to make time for their family to give back to their communities. While this may be difficult for many busy families, it is
nonetheless essential to teaching our children how to influence our communities for the better.
Public schools know service is important to education. They make sure it is part of the education experience for their children in their program. How much
more important is it that we set such an example of service for our own children? As homeschooling parents, we have an enormous responsibility to teach our
children not just how to think, but how to act. If our children don’t learn service from us, who will they learn it from?
Often I’ve heard homeschoolers say, “My kids are learning to serve at home.” While this is important, it is not the same as serving their
community. Serving our families, while not always easy, is definitely more natural than serving others. Stepping outside our comfort zone to serve a
stranger is quite a different matter. It is here our children can exhibit the character in public we help them to achieve at home.
Homeschoolers are often accused of dropping out of society. Homeschooling parents must keep this accusation from becoming a reality. Getting involved in
volunteer work is a good way to prevent ourselves from ignoring the needs of others around us.
One way for homeschoolers to use our excellent academic record is by passing on what we have discovered to others, in the form of tutoring.
Homeschoolers are loaded with skills and resources which, if properly used, could make a difference in the lives of others. Many children, especially in
inner-city neighborhoods, could greatly benefit from some well-placed academic assistance. What may seem like a miniscule investment of time on the part of
homeschooling families may potentially reap boundless achievement in the life of some struggling young person.
How often do we take for granted the simple ability to read a book or a newspaper? Yet there are millions right in our own backyard who cannot enjoy that
same luxury. Many outreach programs through our churches or libraries exist to help people who need reading assistance. If you’re not sure where to
start, you can contact your public library or adult literacy council.
We in the homeschool movement have a terrific track record when it comes to raising literate students. Once we have taken care of own families, we have the
privilege of sharing this gift with other communities.
Do you sense that your homeschooled child may have a problem with pride? It is easy to see how homeschoolers, who typically perform above average in their
academics, might develop this problem. Parents should encourage their children to value service to their communities. The best antidote to pride is to
learn to place the interests of others before our own.
There is nothing like selfless community service projects to learn about the needs and values of other people.
Children can visit nursing homes to sing or play instruments. They can read the newspaper aloud to persons losing their sight, or just listen to a lonely
grandmother tell the stories of her youth.
Physical labor for efforts like Habitat for Humanity and other reclamation projects are a great way for book-smart teenagers to see that he or she still
has things to learn.
Surely there is a family in our neighborhood that could use an extra set of hands to mow the grass or shovel the snow. Certainly a mother in our church
could benefit from a young person to watch her children so she can run errands.
Service to our neighbors and community requires a special brand of humility well worth cultivating in our children. As homeschooling parents, we must make
sure that our children do not miss out on this healthy dose of humility.
Students who are interested in community service may find that pursuing a Congressional Gold Award from the U.S. Congress provides some helpful structure
to their volunteerism.
The Congressional Award allows students to set goals in their areas of interest and work at their own pace as they earn bronze, silver, and gold
Congressional Awards. The program is noncompetitive, open to students between 14 and 23, and requires goals in each of four categories to encourage a
well-rounded student experience.
Each award recipient will complete goals in volunteer public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration. Students can
complete the program in as little as two years with weekly time commitments in each area. Because many homeschoolers are already meeting these time
commitments, they may find additional motivation in the program’s structure and student recognition.
The award requires that time spent volunteering not be political or evangelistic in nature, but many church-sponsored programs will qualify for the award.
In Idaho, a homeschool community service group raked leaves for the elderly. Others have received the award for Scout and 4-H leadership, interpreting,
peer counseling, caring for animals in a shelter, and distributing food to the poor. For more information about the program, visit their website at www.congressionalaward.org.
Families around the country have proven that homeschooling can be successful even on a shoestring budget. Instead of mandating a great deal of resources,
homeschooling is effective where there is a commitment of time and energy.
But after homeschooled children have grown up, families may find themselves with a great deal of talent in the area of home education but without any
avenues to use it. One organization in the Washington D.C. area has paired these homeschool families with families in a place that can benefit from the
home education process: that’s the inner city.
Crowding in the urban classroom complicates an already difficult job for public school teachers. With all of the individual attention, character
development, and self-discipline that homeschooling provides, it is an asset to any family that is willing to make the commitment.
Many inner-city families are not aware of these benefits, however, and even fewer have been encouraged to really consider the difference home education
would make in their children’s lives. Today’s homeschool families need to reach out to inner-city parents who would not dare try homeschooling
on their own.
If troubled families have the encouragement and guidance of those who have already successfully traveled this path, these families will reap the benefits
that homeschooling has provided across America.
Consider having your homeschool support group or co-op look for meaningful ways to help families trapped by the problems of the inner city.