How to Engage Children in Service Ages 5-6
In order to create a more unified community we must start teaching children to serve at younger ages. It has been proven that the level of youth engagement is a powerful predictor of adults who serve: the propensity to volunteer, the propensity to give, and the amount one gives.” Below are some developmental guidelines and service recommendations for younger child as they begin a lifetime of service.
Developmental changes occurring between the ages of 5 - 6 years
Physical development: walk, run, hop, skip, and jump etc becoming physically independent, does not have complete hand-eye coordination and may have accidents. Experimenting with balance (bicycles)
Language: speaks well, usually without too many errors. Loves to learn new words and meanings, knows nearly two times more than a 3-4 year old.
Mental development: Group games; pretend playmates (imagination) can take simple directions, learning to write and simple math. Tips: assign household chores to help your child follow directions— children love to help.
Emotional development: develop self-confidence, observe and compete with others, learn how to give and receive, feel more independent. Tips: Offer praise and reassure the child of their special talents.
Special Service Qualities: 5-6 year olds love interaction, talking, learning and doing special tasks (i.e. personalized assignments with directions that build their self confidence)
Special Needs: positive reinforcement, and to feel needed.
- Working with the elderly either through adopting a grandparent or visiting a retirement home. (Older people are lonely and would enjoy the company of a child and can teach the child through stories etc…)
- Helping with fundraising efforts such as cookie sales—5-6 year olds can help make treats under adult supervision, they can also aid with sales as they learn simple math skills. Children can help organize cookies and make posters for such fundraising events.
- Digging holes and planting small flowers/plants for an environmental project.
- Picking up trash.
- This age group can do many things as long as the directions are simple and the task is easy. Children this age are more than willing to be of service. Please see them as a resource!
Giving and Volunteering in the United States. (2002). Engaging Youth in Lifelong Service. Washington D.C.: Independent sector. Information Resource Center (1997). Child Development ages 3-6 - What you can expect. Massachusetts: Channing L. Bete Co., Inc.
Reprinted with the permission of Youth Service America. © 1996-2008 Youth Service America. All Rights Reserved.
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