One of the first things we teach our children is to say “thank you” when given something. But how do you teach them to be grateful for all the advantages that they have? This requires an awareness of their blessings and the fact that others in our community and our world are not always as fortunate. Through our social outreach activities, students learn they can put their gratitude into action whatever their age. This part of our curriculum is planned and organized through our Community Service Committee of faculty and staff. The goal is for each grade to participate in at least one service learning opportunity within their school year.
Social outreach comes in many different ways here at Green Hedges. Our youngest students in Montessori participate in Pennies for Peace with the proceeds used to purchase pencils in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Grade 2 organizes a Thanksgiving food drive, collecting food items for two weeks which are delivered right before Thanksgiving to Food for Others, a local charity. Grade 3 takes the lead in the School’s recycling program, with students collecting recycling bins from all the classrooms every week. This year-long responsibility shows them the importance of protecting the environment and how all of us can contribute in our own way to a greener planet.
The bikes, toys, puzzles, books and games were overflowing near our main entrance last week. The Giving Tree is organized by Grade 5 each year to purchase holiday gifts for children whose parents are in need of assistance through the local organization, Committee for Helping Others. The overwhelming response to this year’s Giving Tree provided our children with a concrete way to help another child like themselves have a gift at the holiday and speaks to the value of social outreach that the Green Hedges community has put into practice from the school’s early days.
“Looking outside of our own community is important, and you don’t have to look far to find someone in need. The Giving Tree is particularly great for our fifth graders because they are at a point in their lives to start thinking about things besides themselves,” says Grade 5 teacher Stacey Vagoun.
All the way through Middle School, when our students participate in several volunteer activities throughout the year, the purpose of giving back is to instill in our students one of our core values: Commit to Character. We believe that strong moral conduct is fundamental to our community and building self-awareness at an early age about what you have and how you may be able to help others is so vital to being a global citizen in today’s world.
Volunteering doesn’t just have to be done through your school, though. This holiday season, or really anytime during the year, you can commit a little bit of your family’s time to giving back. KidFriendly DC has a great list of organizations where kids can volunteer alongside adults. And remember, even if you are not able to volunteer, doing an activity with your child like sorting through clothes or toys that they no longer use and giving them to charity can show your child how others who are less fortunate may benefit from a good deed.