Ask any parent, and they’ll most likely agree that they want their children to be the type who help others in their community.
But how do we teach this to our kids?
At Manzano Day School, service is part of their philosophy.
The school’s service learning projects instill a sense of civic responsibility in its students and allow them to experience cooperation, caring, empathy, generosity, and concern for others. And that doesn’t start in the fifth grade. Manzano Day School’s youngest students, pre-k and kindergarten, are taught right away the value of community service by picking up trash around the school’s campus.
Assistant Head of School Leanne Kimbrough says, “We want students to understand that one person, no matter their age, can impact the world.”
In first grade, service learning projects start to tie in subjects like math and science. Manzano Day School first graders set up a community pet shop, selling items they have created for their Responsible Pet Owner Engineering and Design project. These items can include pet toys, pet-safe treats, and habitats. There has been everything from a habitat for a hedgehog to dental floss for a chihuahua! All of the proceeds then go to a local animal shelter or organization.
When Ms. Kimbrough taught this project, she noticed a “ripple effect.”
Some students ended up adopting pets from the shelter. And others even asked if there were other ways they could help the animals.
Second-grade students at Manzano Day School have partnered with a local social services organization, Saranam, to collect toiletries and other necessities for families in need and then deliver them right before the holidays.
Third-graders sing to guests at the Barelas Senior Center and hand out handmade cards. Students are also trying out a Citizen Science Project that will include bird banding and data collection.
Fourth-graders help pack up items at the Roadrunner Food Bank, and fifth-grade students gather clothing and other donations from the community as well as the school’s own lost and found and deliver them to Locker 505, a clothing bank for kindergarten through seniors in high school who are in need.
It’s a group effort that involves everyone at Manzano Day School. The school especially tries to partner with local businesses in the West Downtown neighborhood to impact their community.
Donate Time, Resources, and Knowledge
Our kids watch what we do. One of the best ways to teach them values is to model how we want them to act.
Sometimes, we feel like we can’t make a difference. Maybe there’s no money to spare. Or we’re short on time.
But service doesn’t have to look one specific way.
What DO you have to give? Maybe it’s time. It could be money or tangible items. Or perhaps it’s simply checking in on that lonely neighbor to see how they’re doing. Just find what YOU can do.
Volunteer as a Family
There are many ways to give back as a family here in Albuquerque. Let your kids participate in this! It gives you an excellent opportunity to discuss why service to our community is important.
Remember the Small Things
Manzano Day School Counselor Jodie Hart reminds her students that kindness is free.
“It doesn’t have to be a huge project. What can you do for free that can make a difference?”
Remind your child that even the small ways they act–holding the door for someone or using kind words–can make a difference. All those small actions help us create a heart that is more likely to take the bigger ones.
Together, we can create a community that looks out for each other, pulls together, and seeks to make Albuquerque a better place to live. One day at a time.