Connecting children to their community at a young age helps foster improved social and emotional intelligence while providing them with a sense of safety as they grow. Teaching children to extend their sense of identity to people outside their direct friends and family expands their empathy and allows them to better understand the world around them. Help your child connect to their community through local initiatives using these tips.
1. Establish a Curiosity About the Local Environment
The first step in helping your child develop a sense of community is exploration. They can’t connect with an area they don’t know much about. Tour your area with your kids — take them to community festivals, parks, performances, restaurants, clubs, farmers markets, and libraries. Show them what goes on in the area and how everyone comes together to have fun.
While you show them around locally, ask kids questions about what they see, what they like, and what they’d be more interested in exploring. If you know about local drives or initiatives, talk to your child about them and get them to ask questions. Have them dive into local history and emphasize all the little things that make your community special. Kids love feeling like they’re part of something special — turn the local environment into an exciting, bustling place of interest.
2. Encourage Community Involvement in Local Organizations
Once your child understands the area and what goes on around them, highlight community involvement. Community connections are often built through in-person meetings and discussions. Churches, libraries, local charities, and art groups organize different activities that foster a sense of community closeness. Have your child pick a few drives or groups from the area they think are interesting and take them to events.
Food drives, craft classes, and local storytime events are all great activities to show your kids. Their community involvement doesn’t have to be huge — small groups are often easier to introduce to your child. Show them how people from the same area gather to have fun and help each other to establish a sense of community early on.
In addition to being fun, new, and exciting, community organizations often practice local outreach. These events help teach kids empathy and the importance of sharing — giving back to one’s community is rewarding. Show kids the good impact they can make on those around them and instill in them the value of helping others.
3. Teach Them How to Be Problem Solvers
After kids have dipped their toes into local organizations, they may want to get more involved. You can encourage children to learn more about their communities through engaging in problem-solving work. Have them talk to local organizers about issues the community faces. Encourage kids to come up with solutions to problems that they can implement on a local level.
While kids can’t solve every potential community issue on their own, you can support them by participating in helpful initiatives. Get them to brainstorm possible solutions as an exercise. Some ways kids might attempt to solve local problems might be:
- Hosting fundraisers for disadvantaged children
- Starting local yard sales or swaps to encourage reusing items instead of throwing them away
- Running Thanksgiving or other holiday-specific food drives to give families in need a full holiday meal
If your kids want to help out with real, local fundraisers or drives — even better. They can learn the importance of helping those in need from a young age. Even if they work on developing potential solutions, you’re encouraging them to think critically and empathetically about real-world problems. Developing these skills will help improve their critical thinking, problem-solving, and social and emotional abilities early.
4. Build Positive Relationships and Community Connections
Support and socialization are crucial for childhood development. Expanding their support system and social world helps foster friendship, empathy, and community in children. The more grounded and less-isolating their world becomes, the closer they will feel to their community. Encourage kids to get to know the people living and working around them daily.
Teachers, bus drivers, librarians, crossing guards, janitors, mail workers, and more all play key roles in our children’s local lives. Getting familiar with locals in the neighborhood and workers they might see every day can make kids feel safe and protected in their area. The world can be an unfamiliar, intimidating place for kids, especially younger ones. The more familiar they are with the faces and lives of people they see around them, the safer they’ll feel.
Getting to know locals has the added benefit of brightening their lives and your child’s day. Kids love waving to sanitation workers, bus drivers, and other service industry members. They want to explore the world around them and soak up knowledge from every direction. Introducing your children to community members and encouraging them to ask questions about their jobs or hobbies can open them up to new experiences and interests. They’ll become more well-rounded and knowledgeable as they learn from their community.
5. Get Your Child Involved in School Activities
Getting involved in school activities is an easy way to connect children to their community. Schools promote education and outreach, fostering growth and development through their programs. Schools are often the first places kids learn about community outreach, and they have plenty of opportunities for social gatherings outside the classroom.
School is smaller than the regular community, so it’s often a good starting point if you want to connect your kids to the people around them. Kids tend to feel more comfortable participating in activities through their school because it’s more familiar to them. Encourage them to participate in school activities — have them spread their wings in school groups and drives to help them learn about community connection. They’ll build confidence and learn about the community in a structured environment, preparing them for more significant local outreach if they decide to try it out.
CCA Supports Local Initiatives
At CCA, we believe in enriching the lives of our students and their communities. Working to help our local areas encourages growth, emotional development, and giving back. Students can build local bonds and learn how essential it is to help others through CCA opportunities like our toy and clothing drives and student-grown produce donations. We’ve partnered with organizations like the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, the YWCA women’s shelter, and Toys for Tots to help those in need and provide our students with local connections.
If you’re interested in enrolling your child in CCA’s caring cyber community, request more information today and learn how we promote personalized learning and foster growth in our students and communities.