High school students who engage in community service projects can benefit from the experience in many ways. They develop a good work ethic, engage in conversation with people of different ages and diverse lifestyles, and learn new skills. However, there are pitfalls. It is wise for parents and teachers to help guide students to community service projects that are safe and supervised.
Benefits of Community Service
Students who engage in community service have many opportunities for personal growth. Whether they help in a soup kitchen or volunteer at the library or humane society, they get exposure to people and experiences that broaden awareness and understanding of the world around them. Most kids learn new skills in these situations and work with people of diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. This is often the first time some of them have worked for a boss, and it is helpful in learning how to follow orders on the job.
Pitfalls of Community Service
Teenagers are often busy. They can easily become overwhelmed with homework, part-time jobs, sporting events and home and church obligations. It is important that any volunteer work doesn't interfere with school work, study time or sleep. Teens also need safety in the volunteer job. No teen should have to work with someone who makes him feel uncomfortable or unsafe. A teacher or parent should ensure proper supervision. Teens deserve respect and it is important that no volunteer coordinator takes advantage of them by expecting them to work for extended hours without breaks. Also, if left unsupervised, some teenagers engage in inappropriate behavior.
Evaluating Potential Volunteer Opportunities
When considering a community service opportunity it is important to ask a few questions. Do not assume anything, always ask questions. Examples of questions include:
Will there be responsible adults present to supervise the students? Is the work environment safe? Is the work appropriate for the students? Will the student be exposed to germs? What kind of skills are necessary to perform the work? How many hours of community service are students expected to complete? How are completed community service hours reported to the school?
Communicate With The Volunteer Coordinator
A responsible parent or other adult should have contact with the adult supervising the teens on the community service project. The parent should discuss any concerns about the experience. Open communication between adults ensures that the kids have adequate supervision. Students should always feel like they have someone to talk to if they have questions or concerns.