The Tobin School

Teaching Children How to Give Back

With planning underway for the Tobin Family of School’s Annual Family Volunteer Fair, we’d like to share our mission as it relates to community service and young children. While young children are notoriously self-focused, they are also strongly influenced by the adults around them. One of our main goals as early childhood educators is to grow caring children. That’s why we believe in offering opportunities for children to help and impact others and make a difference in their world.

At Tobin we do this by encouraging prosocial behavior in all our interactions, by participating in class and school-wide efforts to recognize kind actions, and by making child-friendly community service activities a year-round focus of our curriculum.

That’s what our Annual Family Volunteer Fair is all about. It’s an opportunity for parents, teachers, and children to work together on projects and activities that help others, both in our community and around the world. By working alongside our children, we are setting an example and starting a conversation. Here is what was going on at one of our activity tables at last year’s fair:

Scene:  Child working alongside his Dad and teacher, decorating and filling a paper lunch bag with a juice box, a prepackaged snack, and a small toy for children who ‘shop’ the emergency food pantry at A Place to Turn in Natick.

Child: “Can I take this home?”

Teacher: “No, we are making these snack bags to go to children whose families need some help getting enough food to eat. While their mom or dad do the shopping, the kids can have a snack and get a treat. It’s very kind of you to make a snack bag for a child who may not have these things at home.”

Dad chimes in: “Mom and I are able to work to buy enough food for our family to eat. Some people don’t have enough money to buy food, so we brought those juice boxes to Tobin, so they could be used to help make these snack bags.”

Child: “I’m going to pick a special snack and toy for the person who gets my bag!”

Admittedly, our volunteer fair is not just about the finished product. While previous Volunteer Fairs have allowed us to work together to accomplish great things, we are not just focused on how many blankets are made, or how much lemonade is sold to support another charity, Alex’s Lemonade. We also want to start a conversation with our children. By showing them how we give back, we are actively teaching empathy. And by involving children in this process, we empower them to not only help, but also to feel comfortable giving back. The goal is to help them grow into members of society who are giving, caring, and loving adults. That’s why our Volunteer Fair is such an important event for us each fall at Tobin.

I hope you’ll come by for our 13th Annual Family Volunteer Fair here at The Tobin School on Saturday, November 3rd from 10 am to 1 pm. Check out the flyer for this year’s fair here.