By the time July rolls around, my kids have experienced A LOT of together time over the hot, sticky weeks. School is out (or tutorial in our case since we homeschool), and the excitement and anticipation of lazy summer days has worn off. It takes an extra amount of self-control and patience to show love rather than annoyance to siblings. It’s easy to nit-pick and create arguments over nothing, so teaching kids to get along and be kind to one another is a necessary skill to survive the summer months.
One summer, in an epiphany moment, I decided to dream up ways to teach my kids how to love others. This was also done with the hope that they would show more love to each other as well. And so, we started brainstorming ideas of how to love others during our summer break. Here is the tangible way we put love into action.
1. Give a Vision and Host a Brainstorming Session
My kids and I wrote a list of ways to help others during our summer season. I included any and all suggestions. This was the brainstorming time, so nothing was off the table. Maybe your neighbor needs help mowing their lawn or weeding the flowerbed. Send your teen next door to help! Does your preschooler love watching the mailman? Have your child color a picture for the mailman and leave it as a surprise for him. Make a snack and have fun as you brainstorm with your kiddos. Encourage them to pursue ideas they are passionate about…that way they’ll be more excited to get involved.
2. Ask Around
I called multiple places to see if they were interested in having a young mom with three little kids help serve and love on others. I received very few yeses. But when I did get a yes, I pounced on it! One of our favorites things was delivering fresh produce from a local church garden to shut-ins. This was a great way for my littles to put love into action. You can volunteer your services at more than just a non-profit, too! What about calling your church to see if they could use a few extra helping hands. Call your local hospital, police and fire stations. You never know, they might be really appreciative to have some kiddos help with a project. And there’s always the idea of visiting shut-ins from your church or residents in a nursing home. Either of those people groups would love to see some younger smiling faces!
3. Weekly Writing Session
Another great way my kids were able to show love to others was write notes, draw and color pictures, and make cards to give away. We often included homemade cookies with the notes. There’s something about seeing your child proudly give away his masterpiece that touches your heart in a new way. And who doesn’t love a handmade card from a cute kiddo?! If you have older kids, encourage them to write an email or a social media message. These weekly writing sessions will keep your kids writing skills in tip-top shape over the summer months and help them to focus on others instead of themselves.
There’s something about seeing your child proudly give away his masterpiece that touches your heart in a new way.
Helpful Lists for Loving Others By Age
Don’t get overwhelmed at trying to think up ways your kids can show love to others. Let them help with ideas and pursue things they feel strongly about. Here are a few ideas to get your kids started.
For younger kids:
- Buy a craft kit from your local hobby shop. Make the crafts and “surprise” people with them. Leave them in someone’s mailbox or doorstep.
- Offer to take your elderly neighbor’s dog for a walk. Or bring in her groceries. Or check her mail for her.
- Make “Thinking of You” cards and deliver them to your neighbors, mailman trash collector, etc.
- Bake (or buy) cookies and drop them off at your church staff, your office, your grocery store, etc.
- Start a collection of drawing and colored pictures, then deliver them to a local nursing home.
For older kids:
- Offer to mow the lawn or run errands for an elderly neighbor.
- Visit hospital patients and nursing home residents. Play games with them and ask them about their life. So often these are the forgotten people, and a simple game of checkers can mean the world to them.
- Write a letter or email to someone far away. It could be a family member, someone from church, or a friend that’s out of state.
- Host a camp during the summer to teach neighborhood kids crafts, basketball, art, music, etc.
- Volunteer to help your church set up and tear down for events like Vacation Bible School…a little muscle and a big heart goes a long way!
As I was teaching my kids how to love others, we also focused on loving the ones within our own home better. My kids learned about apologizing and asking for forgiveness. They learned to own up to their faults and correcting those mistakes. We are definitely not a perfect family, but we work hard to show love to others, including those we live with. And as the Bible says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” (I John 4:7)
How do you love others in your community with your kids?