For impactful learning, parents and teachers must introduce and demonstrate real-life situations that are simple to understand and execute, yet impactful in imparting life lessons to children
Experiences in the real world can teach children a lot more than what a conventional classroom set up entails. For them to experience well-rounded education, it is important to go beyond the textbooks and familiarise themselves with social situations. While society is an important part of a child’s life, incorporating conscious efforts at maximising his/ her involvement in it can reap long term benefits.
Community activity is anything that is done for the betterment of a community or society in general. It could range from initiating cleanliness programmes to distributing relief items to the homeless. When you involve a child early in community activities, he/she develops a more contextualised understanding of fellow humans and their perceptions.
For impactful learning, parents and teachers must introduce and demonstrate real-life situations that are simple to understand and execute, yet impactful in imparting life lessons to children. According to child development experts, the following are the nine ways to teach kids about community involvement:
The UN’s sustainable development goals covering issues like quality education, gender equality and climate actions give a very relevant list of ideas for services to work on. Go through the goals with children and see which ones pique their interest. Together, with the children, you can brainstorm, take up a goal, formulate a linear project and apply it in your community. Find organisations or NGOs in the area that specialise in the issue and see if you can collaborate with them to further their cause.
Give children a wide variety of options to select causes or volunteer for activities that they want to indulge in. While they participate in the cause, they come to discover their strengths and acquire industry-relevant skills and interests. While working on a cause, each child acquires a unique skill set, which he/ she is uniquely good at. For instance, in a cleanliness campaign, while some students can be on the frontline of the task, others could be better at executing tasks behind the scenes.
Make sure that you present every aspect of the concerned cause, including different stakeholders and beneficiaries, so that children can look at it with all possible perspectives and empathise with them. This will enable them to not only apply their understanding but also engage in meaningful action that’s outward-focused and balanced. This will make them better equipped to come up with creative solutions.
It is always wiser to measure the impact rather than counting the number of hours spent on a task. Instead of assigning children with a minimum number of hours of community service per month, it is better to look at the impact of their work. Furthermore, it’s important for children to engage in community activities that foster their own learning. The aim is to actually deliver on the stated project and foster sincerity and commitment in children.
Knowingly or unknowingly, parents play an important role in teaching children about community engagement. If they make conscious efforts at doing so, it can be highly effective in instilling community values in them. By talking to their kids about what concerns are in a particular community and how their learning can be employed in furthering people’s interests, they can lead family activities that are in some way directed towards social good, giving the children a live example to live by.
To bridge the gap between the academic curriculum and real-world problem solving, you need to integrate social projects and academic content. This leads to the formation of the greatest synergy of community engagement and learning experiences and aligns learning goals with community engagement goals. Without this integration, student learning and community impact can be limited.
Schools can use big annual events to encourage students to celebrate in a way that it contributes to a larger cause, like planting trees or sweeping streets on a cleaning campaign or a simple visit to an old age home. When you replace meaningless and lavish celebrations with such social practices, students successfully learn community engagement.
Children should also be reminded to be grateful for what people around them do for their community. Simple acts of kindness that make the service members– like policemen or gatekeepers made to feel appreciated can form an active component in teaching community involvement.
Build two-way partnerships between the school and the wider community, including local organisations and businesses, by taking the classroom outdoors. Use the local environment and community as practical learning resources, and encourage parents and community organisations to participate in solving common issues. Make the school a model for a sustainable community to act as a learning hub and role model for children.
Active learning through daily practical applications is what makes for a wholesome learning experience. If implemented effectively, it goes on to bringing the best out of children to develop them into good citizens that drive sustainability tomorrow.
This Article is written by Meenal Arora, Founder Director of Shemford&Shemrock group of schools