"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher

Colleges Care About Kindness (and You Should, Too)

By Rachel Hanebutt, Communications & Outreach Coordinator, PGK Boston

In a recent report published by the Making Caring Common Initiative, over 80 stakeholders (including colleges such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford) have endorsed “turning the tide” of the college admissions process to one that values kindness over overachieving. In other words, elite colleges around the nation are formally realizing the importance of compassion and empathy for others, ultimately changing the way parents (and their future college students) will look at the “college prep” process.

Many parents are concerned with where their children will go to college; sometimes before they are even born. America’s preoccupation with college readiness and admission can complicate childhood, transforming almost every aspect of a kid’s life into something that might look good on a college application. While not all students find themselves stressed out by these standards, this report by Making Caring Common highlights a reality in which students have started valuing achievement over being kind to others in their community.

“High school students often perceive colleges as simply valuing their achievements, not their responsibility for others and their communities. While some colleges have diligently sought to convey to applicants the importance of concern for others and the common good, many other colleges have not.” (Making Caring Common, 2016)

Project Giving Kids supports the genuine development of compassion and empathy through giving back to others and learning about causes that kids find important. While adding a mentality of “service” as a requirement for college admissions is in no way the intention of this report, colleges around the nation have publicly endorsed the recommendations in this report, which cultivate a holistic sense of what it means for a student to give back to their community. Colleges around the nation care about kindness; you and your kids should, too!

 

Making Service a Part of Your Family's New Year's Resolution

Rachel Hanebutt, PGK Communications & Outreach Coordinator - Boston

The start of a new year provides the perfect opportunity for you and your family to think about the goals you would like to accomplish in the coming year. Adding service to your family’s list of activities might be a challenge, but the New Year is a great time to intentionally plan ways your kids can give back in 2016. Here’s how:

1. Start Small – Everyone is busy, and adding service activities to the calendar can complicate an already hectic schedule. Start small with just one activity per month. Vary the time required, finding quick, easy and fun activities for the particularly hectic months. (Some of the projects on our site take less than 30 minutes!) It’s a great way to add giving back into the routine, while keeping your sanity.

2. Be Consistent – While adding service in any capacity is a great way to teach your kids the importance of giving back, making an effort to consistently incorporate service is important for helping your kids develop the giving habit. Consistency is also important for cultivating empathy and other social and emotional skills.

3. Mix It Up – Varying the types of projects you do will keep your kids interested, while giving them more opportunities to learn about ways they can give back in their community. In addition to exposing your family to a wide variety of causes, you may just help your kids find a nonprofit organization they care about and want to continue serving in the future. Help them find their passion, and they will pursue it in ways that will surprise you!

Still not sure exactly how to make service a part of your family’s New Year’s Resolution? Project Giving Kids has simplified this process even more with our 2016 Service Agenda, which provides one activity per month you and your family can plan to do. These small activities make it easy for you to consistently give back throughout the new year. Follow us on Facebook and catch the latest each month!

 

How To Talk To Your Kids About Giving - Holiday Edition

The holidays are a busy time for everyone; the transition from Thanksgiving to the countdown to other winter holidays becomes a blur as families are juggling tasks of putting up decorations and shopping for the holidays. Figuring out how to explain the “giving” aspect of the holiday season to your kids often gets put on the back burner. But the holiday season is one of the most important times to highlight the meaning of giving for your kids.

The following are 3 easy ways that you can (strategically) explain the importance of giving back during the holiday season to your kids:

1. The “Reason for the Season” Approach:

Whether it’s through telling stories of Santa and his elves or religion-oriented discussions before bedtime, it’s important for you to talk to your kids about the reason for the holiday season. While this can be different for every family, this conversation is essential; giving your kids a narrative of generosity to relate with is important for helping them to understand the importance of giving year-round!

2. The “All the Little Things” Tactic:

Do you decorate the tree as a family? This might seem like a simple holiday tradition, but you can use it as a time to talk to your kids about the things they have that others might not. (It could be as simple as their health, having their family close by, seeing their friends on a regular basis, etc.) What’s even more important, is talking with them about ways your family can give back so others too can have moments to treasure. For example, consider shoveling snow for a neighbor or making some extra holiday cookies for those who are homeless. Every little thing can make a difference!

3. The “Today I’m Thankful” Strategy:

Many kids love the “Elf on the Shelf” or Advent Calendar traditions that build up to the holidays. Another great daily activity is starting a “Today I’m thankful for…” conversation with your kids. Helping them to verbalize what they’re thankful for is one way for them to internalize the importance of giving back to others. Getting into the habit of expressing what they are thankful for during the holiday season could even turn into a year round practice!

 

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