Did you know kids attending private schools are 25 to 50% more likely to volunteer than their public school counterparts? That’s extremely commendable, especially given that over the past 15 years young Americans continue to volunteer their time less and less.
Encouraging America’s youth to take part in charitable activities takes time and careful attention. What’s the secret? What do the top rated private schools know that others don’t?
Life-Long Volunteers Start Young!
The best private preschools, elementary schools, and high schools know that volunteering is a habit that is best established at a young age. Young adults do not simply turn 18 and begin devoting free time to charities and volunteer efforts. The Learning Law and Democracy Foundation’s (LLandD) Executive Director Jennifer Bloom likens volunteering to a skill or a sport. In other words, starting young helps normalize these behaviors. Working at them frequently and regularly turns them into a habit.
Consistent Volunteering Works Best
Similarly, consistency is key! There are several different organizations and charities promoting one-off events to encourage volunteerism. Similarly, some schools mandate just a few hours of volunteer work to help kids get a taste of doing charitable work without overwhelming them. Unfortunately, these things do not lead to life-long volunteering. The top rated private schools know that volunteerism works best when it is consistent. Children who participate for an academic year or longer are much more likely to continue volunteering in the future. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, “Students who report current or previous participation in a service-learning course that includes reflection, planning, and service that lasts at least one semester are 40% more likely than school-based service participants to say they are very likely to volunteer in the upcoming year.” Plus, “71% more likely than individuals who have never engaged in school-based service.”
Discussion and Reflection Promote Greater Engagement
Mandating volunteer hours for a grade is not the most effective way to do it. With only 29% of America’s youth volunteering across the country, it is best for schools to reflect on ways to support children’s efforts to volunteer and–most importantly–to support their continued efforts over time. One way to do to it is reflection. Private schools promote classroom discussions and reflective writing about volunteering experiences. This helps children digest why the activity is important, the impact it made and continues to make, and motivates them to continue making a difference in the future.
It’s a Team Effort
In fact, it’s a multi-generational one. Study after study shows that children and teens are significantly more likely to volunteer if their teachers and parents do. That means that promoting volunteerism that involves or can involve parents, teachers, and kids works best. Kids want to be like parents and teachers they admire. Seeing parents and teachers take part in charity work encourages them to do the same. Again, this serves to normalize the behavior and help develop and hone the long-term habit, promoting the idea that volunteering is an everyday thing that people do.
Another way to boost volunteerism rates is to make sure kids participate together. Kids want to make friends and do things with their friends. Organizing volunteer activities that are also group activities increases participation. The top rated private schools know this and take advantage of this, putting together group volunteer activities and discussing and reflecting on these activities as a group as well.
Volunteering Boosts Academic Performance
That’s right. Volunteering increases students’ engagement in the classroom. Students who volunteer participate more, listen more attentively, and in most cases perform better academically. Although it can be a bit difficult and too subjective to pinpoint the exact reasons, kids who volunteer are more likely to feel as if they make a difference to their community–and can continue doing it.
The top rated private schools know that volunteerism is an opportunity for growth, socialization, and engagement. Enroll your children in a school that appreciates and carefully cultivates everything that volunteering can do for them.