Updated September 2021!
Parenting is more than comforting children when they fall down, or making sure they get proper nutrition, and brush their teeth, and so on. Parents are responsible for their children’s spiritual training as well.
You can constantly point a child towards the Lord, even from the time he or she is born, by talking to them about Jesus. You can pass a knowledge of the Bible on to them by daily using Bible story books and other devotional materials appropriate for their age.
Following are some links to free online devotionals for toddlers, preschoolers and young children. These short, illustrated books, booklets and presentations will grab your little one’s attention and make him want to learn more about Jesus.
Click on the links to either read these devotionals online or download them to your computer.
Free Devotional Books:
Big Thoughts for Little Minds – This series of five books brings key Bible passages to life in a relatable way for young children. The books include simple text, colorful illustrations and points for discussion to help little kids better understand Biblical principles. Click the following links to read or download the books for free:
Jesus and Me – A series of books with messages from Jesus for children on themes such as: waking up, bedtime, kindness, healthy habits, learning new things, guardian angels, and protection. Click the following links to read or download these books for free:
Seasonal Devotional Books – The following daily devotional books have been created for specific seasons:
Free Devotional Series:
In the Garden – An ongoing series of comics featuring a gardener and the children he works with. Children reading the booklets will learn valuable lessons about God’s love and care, kindness and consideration, obedience and the importance of spending time with Jesus each day. Coloring pages accompany the stories for added fun.
Pray a Way – Colorful posters (with accompanying black and white pages to color) featuring rhyming prayers for just about every activity. A bible verse is included for each prayer. Topics covered include schooltime, mealtime, bedtime, holidays, grandparents and even pets.
Bright Pebbles – Bright Pebbles is a collection of Christian and character-building books written for children ages four on up. Each devotional is built on a Bible verse, and explains to a child in simple terms what the principles of that verse mean and how it applies to daily living. The Bright Pebbles series is created by My Wonder Studio and there are currently over 85 of these devotionals posted online in pdf format for easy downloading. Additionally, a compilation of several books from this series can be downloaded for free in epub and mobi format.
My Little Talks with Jesus – An ongoing series of short, devotional articles where Jesus talks with little children about day to day issues such as happiness, trying new things, forgiveness, going to sleep at night and more. This series is created by My Wonder Studio and all articles are in .pdf format for easy downloading. You can also download the ebook for free in epub or Kindle format.
One Kind Deed at a Time – A series of ten devotional articles on the topic of kindness, consideration and forgiveness. Each devotional includes a Bible verse and practical ideas to put the article into action. This series is created by My Wonder Studio and all articles are in .pdf format for easy downloading.
NEW! Through Every Day - Covers topics such as God's love, prayer, and kindness. A free coloring page accompanies every devotional.
NEW! Basic Christian Principles for Little Children - Short devotionals to help children learn the basics of the Christian faith:
Other Free Devotionals for Little Kids
Devotionals from the Freekidstories Website - Freekidstories offers a range of free children’s devotional resources for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, including presentations of songs, illustrated simplified Bible verses and short devotional articles.
My Wonder Studio - The My Wonder Studio website is dedicated to creating free children’s stories, devotionals and activities that can be read online or downloaded at no charge. You can find materials for children ages 0-5 years here or check out stories and devotionals listed by category.
Nurture, Inspire, Teach: Nurture, Inspire, Teach is a website dedicated to providing great online resources for children, teenagers and parents. Following are links to the site’s children’s devotionals for little ones.
To help your little one learn even more of God's Word, check out this list of free Bible stories online that your little ones are sure to enjoy. Some of these are available as PowerPoints while others are in .pdf and/or ebook format.
Image courtesy of Microsoft Clipart
Updated June 2021!
Families that share that common connection with God, whom the Bible calls love itself (1 John 4:8), are closer, more loving, more unified, and have far fewer serious problems among themselves than families that don’t. Why?—Because they have the most important things in common, besides a clear standard of right and wrong—the spiritual guidance and support they need to make the right decisions and stick to them.
Click on the links for free illustrated and simplified Bible stories for children. Stories can either be read online or downloaded in .ppt or .pdf format.
Bible Story Flashcards
All flashcards can be downloaded for free (in .pdf format):
Bible Story Flannelgraphs
These free Bible flannelgraphs cover stories from the life of Jesus, including the First Christmas, the healing of Jairus’ daughter, healing of the ten lepers, the parable of the lost sheep, the story of Zacchaeus and the story of the first Easter. All flannelgraphs can be downloaded in color or black and white. (.pdf format)
Bible Story Presentations (PowerPoint)
The following two sections contain Bible stories in PowerPoint presentation format; just right click an image and then select “save file as” or “save as” to download any Bible story onto your computer.
Basic Old Testament Stories – Simple, colorful and nicely illustrated Old Testament stories for children. The stories found here include Creation, Noah and the Ark, Joseph, Moses, David and Goliath and Jonah.
Basic New Testament Stories – New Testament stories found at this link include Jesus Calls 12 Disciples, The Good Samaritan, Jesus feeds 5,000, Jesus calms a storm, Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar, Lazarus lives again, The 10 Lepers, The Lost Sheep and The Prodigal Son.
NEW! New Testament Stories
Bible Story Books
Some of these Bible story books can only be read online while others can be downloaded in .pdf, .epub or .mobi format.
NEW! My Cloth Bible: A simple Bible book for babies. Can be read online but not downloaded.
NEW! My Toddler Bible: This book sample includes the stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, and Joseph. Can be read online for free but not downloaded.
NEW! Easy to Read Bible: This book is made for young children who are learning to read; however, its large text and colorful full-page illustrations make it an ideal Bible for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Includes both Old and New Testament stories. Can be read for free online but not downloaded.
Tiny Bible Treasures: Tiny Bible Treasures is a series of New Testament Bible stories illustrated by French artist Didier Martin. The stories have large illustrations and a minimal amount of text, making them ideal for very small children. These can either be read online or downloaded in .pdf format from the site itself or from Scribd. Following are links to the stories available in this series so far:
My First Baby Bible – Unique children’s bible created using photo illustrations of babies and young children. Includes six short, attention-grabbing stories in both English and Spanish that young kids are sure to enjoy; these are Creation, Noah, Moses, David, Daniel and the Birth of Jesus. Created by Gold Quill; available to read online and download.
You n’ Me Baby Bible – This is a preview of the full book and includes eight different Old Testament stories (Creation, Noah, Abraham and Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Ruth and Hannah). Created by Scandinavia Publishing. (can be read online but not downloaded)
Great Adventures of the Bible – This is a preview of the full book and includes six basic New Testament stories for children. (Christmas, Jesus as a child, Feeding the 5,000, Jesus and the children, Resurrection of Jesus). Created by Aurora Productions. Available to read online and download.
Stories of the Bible – Basic Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments for children, courtesy of Scandinavia Publishing (can be read online but not downloaded)
Parables of the Bible – Parables of Jesus for toddlers. Includes the Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Prodigal Son, House on the Rock and the Lost Coin. Courtesy of Scandinavia Publishing; can be read online but not downloaded.
Angel Stories in the Bible – Stories of Angels from the Old Testament and New Testament. Text is short and to the point and the attractive illustrations are sure to catch the attention of any toddler or preschooler. Produced by Scandinavia Publishing; can be read online but not downloaded.
Ready – Set – Find!: Short Bible story books for children with simple text. These books give the children an opportunity to participate in the event by finding key people and things in the illustration. Available from Scandinavia Publishing (can read online but not download). Following are the books in this series:
YesKids! Bible Stories - These colorfully illustrated Bible Stories holistically teach Christian and moral values such as kindness, obedience, generosity and trust in God. Each story is accompanied by a prayer to help children connect with God. The YesKids! Story and Prayer Bible includes Bible stories from both the Old and New Testament while the books listed below feature stories on particular topics. These books are created by Christian Media Publishing and can be read online but not downloaded.
The Life of Jesus for Children – Contains two dozen stories from the life of Jesus, starting with His birth and ending with His return. It is ideal for older preschoolers but can be read to younger children. You can also download this ebook for kids for free in epub or mobi format.
The Story of Jesus for Preschoolers – Bilingual book (English and Spanish) about the life of Jesus. Unlike many other Bible books, this booklet focuses on the reason why Jesus came to earth instead of recounting specific miracles and parables in depth. It is ideal for toddlers and very young children and can be downloaded as well as read online. You can also download this ebook for kids for free in epub or mobi format.
Bible Passages and Prayers
Feed My Lambs - Feed My Lambs is a program that introduces young children to the Scriptures. It doubles as a complete memorization course. The set includes six booklets, each with 15 verses on topics such as Faith, God’s promises, God’s love, prayer, salvation and Christian living. These books, along with a guide for teachers and parents, can be read online or downloaded.
The Lord’s Prayer – A simple yet engaging presentation of the Lord’s Prayer, with text in English and Spanish. Can be read online or downloaded in pdf format. This book is also available for free in epub or mobi format.
The Beatitudes – The Beatitudes for children. This presentation has colorful, attention grabbing pictures with simple text that young kids can easily understand. Can be read online or downloaded in .pdf format. This book is also available for free in epub or mobi format.
The Blessing - "The Lord bless you and keep you...". Text is in English and Spanish and the booklet can be read online or downloaded.
Psalm 23 - The well-known "The Lord is my Shepherd" psalm. The book has colorful illustrations, text in English and Spanish and can be downloaded.
Psalm 100 - A psalm of praise to the Lord. The book has colorful illustrations, text in English and Spanish and can be downloaded.
NEW! Psalm 139 - A Psalm about God's love and care for us. Text is in English and Spanish and the file can be read online or downloaded.
Psalm 148 - A Creation Praise for children. The colorful illustrations and easy to remember text will make it easy for kids to learn this psalm of gratitude to God. The book is in English and Spanish and can be read online or downloaded
Dial Into Heaven - The Dial into Heaven series is a fun and exciting way of introducing toddlers to the prayers and promises of the Bible (The following story books can be read online but not downloaded)
Updated February 2020!
Following is a comprehensive list of stories, devotionals, coloring pages and activities for Lent for children and teens of all ages. All material is non-denominational and can be easily used by Catholics and Protestants alike. The material is divided by age and category (stories/devotionals). Lent-related subjects covered by this material include prayer, salvation, forgiveness, generosity and Christian living.
Be sure to also check the list of free resources for Easter for even more stories, illustrated kids’ devotions, videos and fun activities.
Lent Daily Devotional Books
Unless otherwise noted, the following devotionals deal with topics related to God’s love for humankind, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and having a close relationship with Jesus today. Some, such as John 3 and John 1:1-14, are Bible chapters with colorful illustrations that bring the text to life and make it easy to understand.
Preteens and Teens
Arts and Crafts Activities
Image courtesy of Lotus Carroll via Flickr.
Updated July 2019!
Treasure Attic Bible Specials
Treasure Attic is a series of videos for children from 4 to 9 years of age. Each episode uses songs, stories and an entertaining narrative to teach kids moral values such as honesty, compassion, obedience and teamwork. The show also includes two Bible episodes. Fantastic Journey features stories from the Old Testament while Forever Friend retells stories from Jesus' life on earth.
Bible for Beginners
The Bible for Beginners series is ideal for children up to six years old. It teaches stories from the Old and New Testament in a fun, easy to understand way. Each show is half an hour and includes a theme song. Featured Bible stories include The Story of Creation, Noah and the Ark, Moses,
Daniel, Jonah, The Nativity, Miracles of Jesus, The Prodigal Son and The Story of Easter. Click here to watch the videos in this series.
Animated Stories from the Bible
"Animated Stories from the Bible" is a video series produced by Nest Family Entertainment. These cartoons provide a dramatic retelling of both Old and New Testament Bible stories and were created to be a non-sectarian, informative and educational tool to help parents, caregivers, and educators instill positive spiritual values and character traits to those in their care. Click here to watch these cartoons.
Cherub Wings is a popular Christian video series for children up to 10 years of age. The main characters, Cherub and Chubs, are young angels who teach children how to pray, praise God, read God’s Word and follow what it says. This series also teaches moral values such as obedience, forgiveness, generosity and kindness. Each episode is about half an hour long and has songs, stories and plenty of entertaining dialogue.
Click here to watch the following episodes (Click play on the video you would like to watch instead of opening in a new tab)
You can also watch individual stories and songs found on these entertaining children’s videos here.
The Story Keepers tells the story of a Christian leader and his family's adventures living in Ancient Rome whose mission is to keep Jesus's stories alive during the 1st century. Each episode is half-hour long and includes stories from Jesus' life as well as many of the parables. The shows are ideal for kids ages 4 to 10. Click here to view the videos.
Torchlighters is a video series for children ages 8 – 13 years. It features the stories of Christian heroes and martyrs who lived their faith even when it was difficult. These stories are done in anime style and are sure to not only captivate children’s attention but also help them to understand what believing in Jesus and living for Him is all about. Click here to watch nine of these episodes online.
King of Glory
With plain yet profound text alongside bright and bold paintings, KING of GLORY tells the story of the Creator-Owner of the universe and His plan to rescue His rebellious subjects from the kingdom of darkness. For a worldwide audience of all ages. The video, which is nearly 4 hours long, can be divided into 15 episodes for easy viewing. It is ideal for preteens but can be showed to younger children with a teacher's or parent's explanation. Click here to view or download the video.
The Bible Project
These short, animated videos are ideal for preteens and teens who want to learn more about Books of the Bible, Bible terminology, Bible characters and Biblical themes. Videos tend to be anywhere from 4 - 6 minutes in length and include engaging yet clear dialogue that helps young people understand the Bible and its teachings. Click here to view the videos on The Bible Project's official YouTube channel.
Updated November 2018!
Christmas is a great time to curl up on the couch together and enjoy a good Christmas movie. Following is a list of some Christmas classics that are not only entertaining but also meaningful. These children’s movies, cartoons and music videos help children remember that Christmas is about more than just giving and getting presents – it’s about love, gratitude and God’s wonderful gift to us in giving us His Son, Jesus.
Click on the links to watch any one of these Christmas videos online.
It’s a Wonderful Life - George Baily is a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others. When he loses a large sum of money, he contemplates suicide on a bridge on Christmas Eve. This brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born. (This movie has English subtitles and you can download it as well using the link at the bottom right hand side of the video)
Miracle on 34th Street (1955 made for TV version) - Macy's inadvertently hires the real Santa Claus to be the store Santa, with life-changing results.
White Christmas - Two army buddies, who have become a successful performing team, work together to create a fantastical Christmas surprise for their former general.
A Christmas Carol (1984) - The classic story of Scrooge, an old, miserly man who wants nothing to do with Christmas or good will. After being visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, he changes his ways and dedicates the remainder of his days to helping those around him. You can watch the 2009 version of this classic Christmas movie here.
The Nativity Story (2006) - Mary is a simple teenage girl whose life is changed forever when the angel Gabriel comes to her and tells her that she is chosen to be the mother of God's son. She subsequently heads to Bethlehem with her husband Joseph, finds nowhere to stay in the city and gives birth to Jesus in a stable.
The Fourth Wise Man - Artaban is a wise man who intends to set off with the three Magi to find the Christ child. However, he stops en route to help a sick man on the way and misses his chance of finding baby Jesus. He then dedicates his life to doing good and helping those in need, never dreaming of the dramatic meeting that he will one day have with the Savior.
Cartoons and Music Videos:
NEW! The Crippled Lamb - Joshua was a lamb with a crippled leg who felt left out because he couldn’t run and play like the other lambs. But God had a very special plan for Joshua’s life.
NEW! Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa - The story of the boy whose charity and care for people helped him become Saint Nicholas, a great bishop whose spirit lives on as Santa Claus. Based on historical facts.
NEW! The Christmas Chest - Once a year, the family Christmas chest comes out! The Dino friends learn to give and take and have a great time getting ready for Christmas!
Treasure Attic: Christmas Friends - This fun, festive Christmas edition of Treasure Attic is full of excitement, songs and surprises to thrill young hearts as they discover the miracle and meaning of Christmas.
Animated Stories from the New Testament: A King is Born - The story of the First Christmas, starting with the annunciation and ending with Joseph, Mary and Jesus' return to Nazareth from Egypt.
Bible for Beginners: The Nativity - The story of the First Christmas for preschoolers and younger children
Veggie Tales: The Toy that Saved Christmas - A small toy is bewildered by the commercial hype surrounding Christmas and sets out to find what Christmas is all about.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Classic 1966 cartoon) - The Grinch hates Christmas and sets out to steal all the decorations and presents from the townspeople. However, he finds in the end that the spirit of Christmas is not something that can be stolen.
A Charlie Brown Christmas - Based on the Peanuts cartoon strip. The story touches on the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas, and serves to remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas.
Annabelle’s Wish - Annabelle is a calf whose greatest wish is to become one of Santa's reindeer. However, she makes a surprising decision that leads her to lose what she holds most dear in order to help a mute boy that she has befriended.
The Little Drummer Boy - An orphan drummer boy who hated humanity finds his life changed forever when he meets three wise men on route to Bethlehem.
Nester the Long-Eared Donkey - An outcast donkey in Roman era Judea with overlong ears finds his destiny on the way to Bethlehem.
Kiddie Viddie: Christmas Joy – Children’s music video featuring well known and original Christmas songs for children. Ideal for babies, preschoolers and kids up to four years in age. (This playlist also includes several songs and a story from the “Treasure Attic” children’s video, as well as a short Nativity drama of the First Christmas.)
Alabaster's Song - The touching story of a boy who befriends a Christmas Angel. From the well-known book "Alabaster's Song" by Max Lucado.
Timmy's Gift: A Precious Moment's Christmas Story - Little Timmy the Angel is given the greatest honor in all of Heaven: to deliver the jeweled crown to baby Jesus. But he's sure they've made a mistake. He's much too little for such a long journey. And who knows what frightful things lie ahead...
Click here for free children's Christmas stories.
Click here for children's coloring pages.
Some of the descriptions are courtesy of IMDB, Amazon and Wikipedia. Image courtesy of Sean Dreilinger via Flickr.com
By Chalsey Dooley
Last Christmas, the magical spark never came. I wasn’t looking forward to decorating the tree, neither did I want the guilt and stress that would come from cramming and rushing to “make things meaningful.”
This year has been the opposite, though. In fact, we started preparing in July! So what was different?
Back then, the children and I came up with a plan to give Jesus 1,001 presents by His birthday, and we’ve been sending a few more His way every day since. The back of our kitchen door is covered with lists and charts, and now there are several hundred checkmarks and stickers indicating the gifts we’ve already given Him! There’s a chart for good deeds done to help others. There’s a chart for memorizing Bible verses. There’s a chart for making simple Bible story audios to post for other children. There’s a chart for writing letters to cheer the hearts of friends. There’s a chart for the times we have stopped to spend time with Jesus. These are just a few of the gifts we’re giving Jesus for Christmas.
This year, our Christmas season started months ago and it feels great. There’s no rush, no pressure, no guilt, and no lack of focus. We’re reaching our goals and using our time to make Him and others happy. The charts are nearly filled up, and when they are, we’ll place each list in a gift-wrapped box and place it under the tree. They are gifts from the heart—each one represents time, love, and effort we know He will be happy to receive.
We already know what the 1,001st gift will be—a simple birthday candle. We’ll light it for a moment each day while we pray for others around the world to come to know Jesus’ love. These prayers are also gifts we can offer the One who offered us His all.
Chalsey Dooley is a writer of inspirational material for children and caretakers and is a full-time edu-mom living in Australia.
Courtesy of Activated magazine. Used with permission. Photo: Molly Sabourin/Flickr.
By Iris Richard
I was born in 1955, only ten years after World War II, when wartime hardships were still fresh in people's minds. Grandfather used to tell us children of the extreme hunger and exhaustion of those days, and the struggle of staying alive during the long freezing winter months.
Our town was in the heart of Germany's industrial center, and everything was covered with a seemingly permanent layer of gray-brown dust from the steel mills. In springtime, the grass and green shoots quickly turned brown, and so did the fresh snow in winter, making its white coat look worn after only a day.
On the first Sunday in December, our family always gathered around the table in our apartment's tiny kitchen. My mother, my sister Petra, and I lit the first candle of our Advent wreath and sang Christmas songs, as our thoughts journeyed far, far away from the dusty city to the three wise men traveling on camelback. Each week a new candle was lit, and peace and joy filled our hearts as the story of the manger which awaited the birth of our Savior came alive.
Then came the long-awaited event of Christmas baking—special indeed, since butter, nuts, and eggs were sparse, and chocolate was a rare treat. With the delicious smell of freshly baked cookies still filling the air, we carefully stored each batch in large tin cans.
On Christmas morning, we went to see the tree, prepared the night before by our parents. We all crept into the living room while Papa lit the candles one by one with a long match.
What joy it was to find stockings filled with homemade cookies, nuts, chocolate, oranges, and apples, and new knitted dresses for our dolls. There also were crayons and coloring books, hats, gloves, and scarves.
These were days of simple joys and handmade toys. The memories serve as a reminder to me to search for true value, for the human touch, for things that last—especially in the fast-moving times we live in today, filled with technological gadgets and screen-based activities. They are also a reminder to keep my eyes open to the needs of others, to love, and to share. That's what makes this season a truly unforgettable one, leaving its beautiful mark on the memories of our children and those we meet.
Iris Richard is a counselor in Kenya, where she has been active in community and volunteer work since 1995.
Article courtesy of Activated magazine; used with permission. Photo by Celeste Lindell via Flickr.
When Jesus spoke to the multitudes, He often explained deep truths by means of parables—stories about common events, circumstances, and things that His listeners could easily relate to. Times have changed, but the timeless truths contained in the parables of Jesus are just as relevant today and just as feeding to our souls as they were to those who first heard them 2,000 years ago! Bon appétit!
Short videos (for children up to 5 years in age)
Full length cartoons (about ½ hour; ideal for children ages 5 – 10)
Activities and Coloring Pages
Worksheets for older children:
Image courtesy of FN-Goa via Flickr.
By Becky Hayes
I had been praying for my son, Denith, to develop a close and personal relationship with Jesus while he was young, capitalizing on how much faith and capacity to believe two-year-olds have. I prayed that he wouldn't only come to know Jesus as his Savior, but also as the close and personal Friend that Jesus desires to be to everyone. I wanted Denith to sense His Spirit and to hear His voice.
One night something very special happened that encouraged me and made me determined to teach my son more about how to hear from Jesus on his own.
Denith had received a teddy bear when he was a baby, affectionately named "Teddy," and he was very attached to his stuffed friend. Everywhere Denith went—to preschool, to lunch, or to the supermarket—Teddy came along. One day Teddy was misplaced and could not be found. For three days we searched the house. I pulled everything out from under the bed in case he had fallen behind the bed and gotten stuck.
The third night that Teddy was lost, I was putting my nine-month-old, Leilani, and Denith to sleep. The lights were out, and the children were all tucked into bed and ready to pray for the night, when Denith asked, "Mommy, where's Teddy?" "Honey," I said, "Teddy's lost. We need to look for Teddy during the day when there's light. Right now it's dark and we can't see. But why don't we ask Jesus to give Teddy a good night, and to help him be warm and cozy and sleep well." "Mommy, where's Jesus?" asked Denith. "Jesus is in your heart," I replied. "He's also in my heart, and He's all around us. If you talk to Him, He can hear you speak, and if you listen, you can hear Him talk to you." Without any further questions Denith promptly asked aloud, "Jesus, where's Teddy?"
A short pause followed, and then in an excited but matter-of-fact manner, Denith exclaimed, "Oh, Mommy, Teddy is in the crib!" My body tingled with excitement. I knew that my son had heard Jesus answer his question. I didn't hesitate for a second. I began removing the toys and stuffed animals from the baby's crib. Sure enough, under the other toys, I saw Teddy.
I was so touched by Jesus' love for Denith in rewarding his faith by answering him so clearly. It was also a good opportunity for me to show Denith that Jesus always has the answers.
Courtesy of Activated! magazine. Used with permission. Photo adapted from Wikimedia Commons.
By Kelly Palmatier, CompassionateKids.com, adapted
Volunteering with children is a great way to help them learn about giving back. Children learn valuable skills, such as communication, organization, and team working, while “on the job”. One benefit of volunteering is that children learn about the concerns of the organization they work with, and what need it fills in the community. Consequently, the
children also have an opportunity to remember what to be thankful for.
It’s important to work side-by-side with your child, since leading by example has been shown to be the most effective form of teaching. Children who see their parents volunteering are much more likely to believe in the value of working to help others.
Working side-by-side with your child has many benefits. It is the most effective way to teach your child the value of helping others, ensures that the child’s presence is a help,
not a hindrance to the organization’s staff and other volunteers, and while focused on a task together, may foster deep conversations that may not have occurred otherwise.
When choosing a volunteer opportunity, it is important to consider the following:
1. Your child’s interests: If your child is clearly interested in a subject, it may be possible to use that interest as a springboard into volunteering: Children who construct a lot of forts or buildings with blocks may enjoy helping out with a safe, simple renovation project. Children who love animals may enjoy helping animal organizations. Children who enjoy clothes and toys can start a clothing and toy drive for poor kids. Children who like baking can provide cookies to a poor orphanage or a home for the elderly.
2. Your interests: It is also important to consider your own interests as your child will emulate your passion and enthusiasm.
3. Your child’s abilities: If your child is very young, it can be challenging to choose a volunteer opportunity that he/she can actually help with. There are opportunities available that even very young children can do with a little parental guidance, such as helping to bag or box items for those in need, or giving flowers, cookies, or hugs to the elderly.
4. Your abilities: Your child will benefit from seeing you work well in your element. For
example, if you are especially skilled at home renovations, you may find a community restoration project to work on. This would allow you to share your skills while demonstrating the relevance volunteering has in regards to different careers and interests.
5. Location, frequency, and duration: Consider the basic logistics of any volunteer
opportunity. If the opportunity is close by, a commitment to help on a weekly basis may be fine. If it’s farther away, consider helping on a monthly basis. Your child is learning work ethics from this experience, so ensure you arrive on time, and only cancel or reschedule when you truly have valid reasons and can give plenty of notice. The duration of each volunteer session can vary according to the age of the children. Older children may be fine with a few hours or more, but younger children may need sessions to be short, even forty-five minutes.
6. Staff attitude: Most people will appreciate your instilling a volunteer ethic in children at a young age, but some will focus more on the noise level or other potential distractions. It is important to consider the effect others’ attitudes have on your child. If a child feels like a hindrance, volunteering could end up like a chore rather than a joy. The effort put into organizing volunteer opportunities for your children can provide a lifetime of benefit for both the kids involved and for society.
Resources for finding volunteer opportunities
Article courtesy of Motivated magazine. Used with permission. Photo by David Katarina via Flickr.