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Teaching students to value service and community from a young age is an important part of early education; however, it can sometimes be hard to find opportunities for little hands to get involved. In honor of Good Neighbor’s Day on Sunday (September 28th), we thought we would share five easy ways for students to practice being good neighbors:

1. Start small. When there are so many people in need and so many charities/organizations to choose from, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Solve the problem by looking around in your school and community for opportunities to make a difference. If a student is out sick, have your class make cards to be delivered to his or her home. Point out the importance of cleaning up after each other by taking the class out to a bus one day and having them pick up all of the trash that was left behind. (Bus drivers are sure to be thankful and students may think twice before tossing away that candy wrapper!)

2. Start planting. The world could always use a few more plants to bring some oxygen and overall green-ness to the community. Whether it’s starting a class greenhouse or getting permission from the school to plant trees for Earth Day, get involved in teaching the importance of going green. For a few ways to make your classroom environmentally friendly, check out these resources:

  • EarthBox

  • Classroom Greenhouse

3. Start donating. The best way a child can learn to value something they have is through giving it away. Gather children together to discuss possible donations, whether it is giving clothing to a shelter or toys to a children’s hospital. Reinforce the concept of responsibility when it comes to helping those in need.

4. Start organizing. Service projects take a lot of planning and time, but they are completely worth it! Ask your students how they think they can best serve the community and then find ways to get everyone involved. Meetings can be held with local service groups or take place right in the classroom! Service projects can include anything from making thank you cards for the local police force to bagging meals for programs like Meals on Wheels.

5. Start communicating. Get parents involved! The best way to ensure students are on the lookout for ways to serve is by reinforcing that mindset both in and out of the classroom. Talk to parents at school events and build positive relationships, so that you can encourage them to get involved in the community. Some simple service ideas you can supply parents with can include:

  • Starting a volunteer club at school.

  • Adopting a charity for your classroom.

  • Taking up a book donation for the school library.

  • Baking goods or selling sweets for a food drive.

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