Learning isn’t just about what’s in books; for our kids, we want them to develop strong ethics and learn the value of giving, and have an environmental and social conscience, too. Sow the seeds while they’re young and your kids will grow up getting involved in important initiatives and charitable causes. They’ll also learn one of life’s most valuable lessons – that giving a little helps us all get a lot. Discover how your kids can make a difference and have a more meaningful school year.

Donate Clothes, Toys and Books

Donating used books, toys and clothes is a great way to show kids how they can make a difference

This is a simple first step in helping kids develop social consciousness. Spend a Saturday morning gathering up the books, toys and clothes they no longer need or use. Encourage the kids to help you, while you explain you’re planning on giving these items to other families who really need them. Once you’ve bagged everything up, drive over to your nearest Salvos or Vinnies collection centre and do a drop-off, kids in tow. Involving them in the whole process helps kids feel engaged and provides understanding as to why donating is so important.

Volunteer as a Family

Sometimes the best thing you can give is your time, and this is a valuable life lesson for all kids to learn. Take a look at the groups within your community – are there churches, schools, clubs or other local organisations that need volunteers? There are many ways you can help as a whole family, such as fostering homeless pets, hosting working bees, or cleaning up rubbish. Or jump online to sites such as GoVolunteer to find volunteering opportunities that reflect your area of interest and suit your timetable. Volunteering doesn’t have to be an official activity either. Ask elderly neighbours if they need a hand with gardening, washing the car, collecting their bins or cleaning their windows.

Support Worthy Causes

Encouraging kids to donate dedicated savings to a charity is meaningful community contribution

Find a large jar or money box and start a family fund for charity. Everyone contributes some of their pocket money and then, each quarter, a different charity is chosen to donate the cash to. Here’s one to get you started: each year, from late December until February, Officeworks supports The Smith Family through its Back To School Appeal. This important initiative supports young Australians from disadvantaged backgrounds by providing them with the essentials they need to succeed at school.

By selecting worthy causes to donate money to, you’re also encouraging your kids to learn about the issues that affect their local community.

Spread the Word

Learning about charitable initiatives and sharing them with friends and family is a great way to show your support. Nowadays this can be done via email, text and social media – rope in the kids to help be junior publicists: let them create the list of who to include on the shout outs or they could put together a fun video to send to promote upcoming opportunities. One such event is Me and UooUoo: The RCH150 Anniversary Art Trail that’s occurring from January to March 2021 to raise funds for The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne. Unique sculptures, including one sponsored by Officeworks, will be placed in streets, laneways, parks and public spaces, forming walking trails throughout Melbourne and Geelong. Grab the kids and get involved!

Live More Sustainably

Kids can make a difference by making green choices like recycling and reusing.

As a family, ensure that you’re doing your bit by recycling, composting, switching off unnecessary lights and appliances, and swapping single-use plastics for reusable shopping bags, straws and drink bottles. Proactively recycle e-waste, mobile phones, printer cartridges, batteries, pens and markers at your local Officeworks store. You can also make an impact by choosing more sustainable products when you’re shopping for school supplies or stationery. Officeworks make this easy with their range of sustainable paper products as well as their Restoring Australia Initiative, where they plant two trees for every one used in paper-based products.

Practice Empathy 

From their earliest days, encourage your kids to be kind and caring towards others. Hot tip: you can do this by modelling kindness yourself, as little ones often copy the adults close to them. Small things, like looking people in the eye and saying “please” and “thank you”, might seem like no big deal but they foster a sense of connection and encourage positive communication. When disciplining, aim for a “restorative approach” – ask first why they did what they did, then explain how their actions make others feel and, lastly, help them figure out an appropriate way to fix the problem. Several Australian schools have adopted restorative techniques to prevent bullying and build better relationships.