How to Engage Children in Service: Ages 9 to 12
In order to create a more unified community we must start teaching children to serve at younger ages. It has been proven that adults who engaged in service as youth are 66% more likely to engage in service as adults and give more generously to philanthropic organizations than those who had not. Below are some developmental guidelines and service recommendations for your child as they begin their road of service
Developmental changes occurring between the ages of 9-12 years
Physical development: Taller, heavier, very good hand-eye-coordination. Note: just because a child looks bigger does not mean they should participate in physical labor! Specifically at this age, children’s bone structures are still developing and adjusting. Fragile bones are more susceptible to breaking at this age than any other—Be Careful!
Emotional development: Cares about others (develops empathy) and personal responsibility. Mental development: Can think more abstract and can understand different perspectives to solve problems, begins to use logic. Tips: youth enjoy activities that utilize all five senses. Youth will also perform better when they understand the end-result, take time to have them hear, see and touch other areas of the service project so they can be of better assistance if something comes up.
Special service qualities: Youth at this age are capable of most service except heavy manual labor. (Bones are very fragile due to current growth spurt period.)
Special needs: Responsibility and trust.
- Projects that empower youth through small—medium responsibilities such as, overseeing an assembly line, monitoring food, supplies, or the needs of other workers etc… Try to place the youth “in charge” of a specific section of an activity.
- Writing plays to be preformed at various shelters, homes etc…this will encourage writing and creativity as the child’s skill increases.
- Organizing bake sales, preparing food for bake sales, preparing signs/advertisements for such activities. (In the case of simpler service projects encourage your child to be in charge. If something goes wrong, make suggestions but DO NOT take the activity over, this is a time for learning not perfection.)
- Working with leaders on making changes they see feasible and then help implement such changes on a grass-roots level.
- Youth at this age are pretty much capable of all types of service. Through encouragement and support they can accomplish their ideas. Begin training youth in the first-aid basics and emergency procedures so they can also be of assistance to others when something unexpected happens. This will also increase their sense of security and confidence as they serve in various situations.
- All information received at this age is a very important facet to the foundation they will build upon in later years. Be an example!
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 9-12—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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