Studies show that children who feel a sense of identity within a group are the most well adjusted and successful in school and with their "world view" -- that is, understanding the relationship between self and others. Studies also reveal that some of the most important skills children need for success are social interaction, communication, collaboration and problem solving, all of which a sense of community can foster.
Get involved with organizations, causes and activities about which you and your child are passionate. Lead by example and bring your children along. Libraries, gyms, churches and other groups hold events and need community members' participation. Events as simple as story time or arts and crafts classes can instill a sense of belonging in children.
Work with your neighbors and their children toward a good charitable cause. Host a neighborhood clothing or food drive; let the kids gather the items and deliver them to families or organizations in need. Allowing them to be part of such an event can build closeness with neighbors and children with whom they may not always play, all while feeling good about helping those in need.
Nothing is more important to teach your kids than kindness, and it can start right in your neighborhood or community. When a friend has a new baby, cook her family a meal and let your children help you. Bring them along to deliver the meal and greet the newborn so they can see what kindness can do for someone. Give some extra help to community members who are sick, in nursing homes, injured or without family members who are deployed.
Teach kids the importance of taking care of their community by participating in or organizing community cleanups. Visit parks and help pick up trash, take part in a community recycling program, or help out at an event aimed at preserving trails or important landmarks. Demonstrate that your kids can take accountability for their actions and ownership in their community.
Show your support for neighbors in triumphs as well as tough times. Many neighborhoods have block parties to bring neighbors together and get to know one another. Whether it's a formal gathering or an impromptu get-together in the cul de sac, get out and participate in the celebration. And invite the neighbors when you are celebrating for your family; marking milestones with those around you brings communities together.
One of the first places kids learn to be part of something is in the classroom. When you have time, participate in school functions and support your child's education. Helping with school fundraisers, parties, programs and volunteer opportunities shows children how important being part of a community and its success really is.
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