The traffic signal goes green. You accelerate the car and right when you move, you notice that your 7-year-old was trying to hand over a bar of chocolate to a similar-aged child standing outside your car window. She was poorly-dressed, had a school bag on her back and had bright thankful eyes on her face. But by the time she held onto the bar, the car moved and you were too far into the traffic, from going back and helping your child finish the good deed.
Though many of us want to help our children understand that it is important to spread kindness, our busy schedules and other inevitable circumstances prevent us from doing so. Consequently, today, schools have not only been involved in developing the intellectual muscle in their students, but also in helping them exercise their innate qualities of empathy and sharing their hearts.
The importance of community service for students is known to most because of the remarkable benefits that come out of it, both to the students and the society. They stem from the personal level to the public level.
Sensitivity to the world around us
Although most of us may find it unnecessary or uncomfortable to explain the why’s and how’s about the world around us, it is imperative that our children know that there really is another to reality; that there are others who possibly lack the comforts what they have. Though the schools educate that through studies and community service activities, the family has a lot to contribute in this respect too.
Believing that one can make a difference
When our children are aware that there is another reality out there, we should teach them to respond gently. We should help them understand that one can make a difference through compassion. The lack that others experience need not sink them down. Taking responsibility as a growing individual, to care for another, whatever the age of the child, is a sign of maturity as your child grows. Schools, especially international residential schools have taken this to a higher level - tuning students to look at it in a world-view and push them to even become a part of world-level helping communities.
Respecting, valuing and understanding people
When your child believes in making a difference, it will help him/her grow as a person and learn to value life, love, relationships, integrity, values, and the joy of sharing. Inculcating this attitude will help your child be better at communicating and understandingpeople while they communicate with them. At schools, this is a very important aspect of teaching interpersonal skills among peer groups and with teachers and staff members. But families can do it their way too.
Help build the child through activities
Many believe that actions speak louder than words. Find small things that your child can do to participate in the gesture of respecting, valuing and understanding people. It can bring meaning to all those desires of wanting to help the lesser fortunate.
At Jain International Residential School (JIRS), there are many activities that engage their students in community services, largely, waste management, spending time with orphans, and distributing food, warm clothing, toys and personal care items, etc. They are driven by their mission ‘to instill appropriate and desirable ethical values to make the students productive and responsible members of society.’
Knowing the importance of community service for students helps us (schools, educators, and families) in the upbringing of our future generations. This will develop a sense of awareness of many perspectives in life and will help them learn to use their resources well. They will also become better in managing interpersonal relationships. It will equip them with a deep sense of love and compassion for another being even as they progress in life.