It’s easy in the homeschooling lifestyle to get consumed by the details–the box-checking, the curriculum, the feeling of being “behind,” the never-ending chores. But deep down inside, we know life offers so much more to us and our children.
We just don’t have the time to see it.
Yet if someone was to ask about our long-term hopes for our children, we’d probably mention character traits like thoughtfulness, passion, and generosity. As Heidi reminded us recently, these qualities are educational goals for the whole child.
Almost a century ago, political activist Emma Goldman had this to say:
“No one has yet to realize the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.”
But how do we, as parents, go about unlocking our children’s generous spirits? And why should we put forth the effort when so many other items reside on our to-do lists?
Consider for a moment these four suggestions.
1. Think about the benefits.
In a culture continuously revolving around “me, me, me,” cultivating generosity helps all of us, children or adults, to become more others-focused. When we consider what and how we can give, we’re reminded of all we already have. We develop inner gratitude.
An atmosphere of generosity in a home also provides children with a feeling of security. They believe that if the family is in a position to give, there must be enough for all of us. So there’s no need to worry or hold onto what’s “mine” too tightly.
Even in times when budgets are tight, this security offers so much to a child. It creates a sense of abundance in our homes instead of a sense of lack.
2. Discuss and model it for them.
The best way to emphasize character traits with our children is to discuss them.
Why do you value generosity? What are the ways you use your time and money to help others?
If generosity is part of your religious tradition, then talk about why God loves a generous spirit. Why is it more important to give than to receive?
3. Get involved as a family.
The best way to get involved will vary for each of us–depending on the age of your children, how many children you have, and how much time you have available. Here are a few possibilities.
a. Make dinner for a sick friend or family and deliver it.
Be on the lookout for these small opportunities–over time they often teach the biggest lessons.
b. Call a local nursing home.
Ask if there’s a resident without any family nearby who might like to be visited.
Our family has been doing this for five years now and it has been life-changing for us and our kids. We’ve gotten to know women who have become like grandmothers to our three little ones.
Photo by Eggybird
c. Look for seasonal opportunities to give.
When the holidays approach, consider preparing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child or donating an item to Toys for Tots. Making cookies or gifts for your neighbors reinforces the generosity principle any time of year.
d. Make bags for the homeless to keep in your car.
If you live where you occasionally see a homeless person at a stoplight, don’t just avert your eyes.
Let your kids help you make small gift bags with snacks, water bottles, toothbrushes, and so on. Keep them in your car. You’ll be able to roll down the window and brighten someone’s day.
e. Give anonymously.
One of Simple Homeschool’s contributors, Misha Thompson, is co-founder of an amazing organization called Giving Anonymously.
Through this charity you can donate anonymously to any individual you know who is in need–a neighbor, friend, family member, anyone!
After the money is delivered the recipient can call and leave a recorded message of thanks that is then emailed to the giver. What a concrete way to make generosity come alive for a family.
4. Believe that your kids can make a difference.
Photo by woodley wonderworks
Many people think it’s important that we instill generosity in our children, so they’ll have that quality when they’re older.
But that’s missing the point.
Lee Fox, founder of a website called KooDooZ, recognized this and created a cause-based social networking site for kids who aspire to make the world a better place.
Children can, and should, learn that they have the capacity to make a difference and change the world right now. It’s our job as parents to inspire and encourage their generous spirits to blossom.
Yes, it’s important that our children leave home knowing their multiplication facts–but don’t we really hope for so much more?
When considering all the curriculums offered to us these days, let’s not forget to teach one of the most important–the curriculum of generosity.
How does your family value and cultivate generosity?