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Information Connection: Make a difference with kids

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One Hour in Your Home

  • listen to your children, talk with them
  • stay informed--talk to parents, teachers and others who work with kids
  • help your children with their homework
  • read a book to a child--your own child, or a niece, nephew, grandchild or neighborhood friend
  • make your home safe for children--remove hazards from your home, garage and yard
    look through your children's closets and toy boxes for items that can be recycled and used by other children
  • start a neighborhood reading group
  • offer to babysit for a family member or friend
  • pay your child support
  • donate money or your services to a local, state or national children's group
  • talk to the media; call in to radio and television talk shows to voice your support for coverage of children's issues

One Hour in Your Community

  • volunteer at a local health clinic or at a Red Cross site
  • be a volunteer teacher's aide or tutor
  • help out in a school lunchroom, gym, or playground
  • donate materials to your local school--books, art supplies, sports equipment, computer equipment
  • volunteer at a local child care center
  • keep an eye out for kids in your neighborhood--start a neighborhood watch program
  • organize a neighborhood clean-up day
  • fight to keep a park open--drug-free and litter-free
  • become a Big Brother or Big Sister
  • remember children during the holidays with a donation of food, toys, or clothing
  • organize a neighborhood meeting and discuss the special needs of children in your area

One Hour in Your Workplace

  • encourage your workplace to adopt a school, health clinic, child care center or a youth sports team--help with supplies and staff volunteers
  • volunteer your expertise at a career exploration day--motivate students to find worthy and productive careers
  • establish "Children's Service Leave" for your workers--one hour each week of company-paid time for employees to volunteer with children
  • suggest that your workplace adopt flexible work schedules and child care provisions
  • alert your employees to the Earned Income Credit, a federal tax credit for low-income working families with children
  • hire local youth for after school or summer employment
  • bring in speakers on kids issues for your lunch group
  • donate a portion of your company's profits to an organization that provides the basics for children--food, shelter, clothing

Some more thoughts on making a difference with kids

Remember, it's about them not about you. While we all want kids to achieve and to excel, they aren't always ready. If you're teaching a kid something, you may have to let go of correction so you can maintain enthusiasm. Criticize a kid or how something's done too much, and the kid becomes discouraged.

Here's an example. A friend of mine brings kids to our climbing group. Personally, I want the kids to make perfect knots and to use good climbing techniques. My friend wants the kids to push on, rather than give up, in a climb. We both cross the line a little, but know we have to back off so that the kids enjoy the experience. He is constantly telling them things like "You did great" and this is encouraging to them.

We do make sure their knots are correct, but it's not necessary to point out to them each time what they did wrong. Sometimes, one of us will be showing a kid how to tie a knot and the child will say, "Can you just do it?" Well, we lose the point of teaching that particular thing but by moving on we keep the child engaged and his/her interest keen.

When you are trying to teach a child, of course you don't want to reinforce bad habits. But you also don't want to dull the child's enthusiasm. So put safety first, enjoyment second, and skill level third. Forget about perfection. A kid who enjoys an activity will naturally want to improve and eventually will do so.

The worst that can happen if a kid doesn't get better at a particular thing is s/he will lose interest in it and pursue something else. The worst that can happen if you hover and nitpick is the kid won't want to do anything.

While you don't want to play into the "self-esteem building" nonsense that prevents kids from getting proper instruction, you do want to be a source of information and encouragement rather than a source of annoyance and discouragement. Watch for cues from the kids, so you know when you're crossing the line. And be sure to look for cues to comment on what the kid is doing right.


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