Why teach this?
When it comes to teaching children, actions often speak louder than words. Social responsibility can begin at any age, and, if practiced over time, can shape our children's view of the world. Children who learn how to take care of their communities and their world will carry those lessons of kindness and understanding throughout their lives.
Get involved. In the classroom, simple activities can teach students social responsibility. Keep a jar in the room to collect spare change, and at the end of the year, donate it to a local animal shelter or hospital, or sponsor a child through World Vision. Let the students choose the organization to which they want to donate, and learn about that group's mission through the year.
Responsible gifts. As the end of the school year approaches, parents should consider that teachers don't need more candles and body lotion. Instead, parents and students can give to a charity in the teacher's name (ask the teacher which organizations they like to support) or donate to alternative gift-giving program such as www.alternativegifts.org. Teachers can make a wish list of charitable organizations they support or adopt a needy classroom and collect supplies for them in lieu of personal gifts.
Benevolent Birthdays. Whether for home or classroom parties, presence without the presents is another way to incorporate philanthropy into your home. Engage the birthday boy or girl into deciding the beneficiary of gifts or donations and let them be the one to deliver the donations. Collecting dress-up clothes for a young cancer patient or making teddy bears for a shelter can be fun party activities, but delivering the dresses or toys to the recipients makes a lasting impression. New York-based Children for Children has some great ideas for involving kids in philanthropy.
Lesson plans. When planning class curriculum, keep social responsibility in mind. If students are learning about tropical rainforests, adopt an acre of an endangered rainforest. While teaching a history lesson that covers past wars, help students write letters to our soldiers overseas to bring a current perspective to the class. Websites like Teachable Moments have free lesson plans and ideas for incorporating current events into the classroom for elementary through high school students.
Make it stick. However you decide to teach students about the importance of social responsibility, remember, it doesn't have to be elaborate-it just has to be meaningful for the students. Make sure messages hit home by talking to students about the meaning behind each action and giving them a sense of purpose as they do something to help.