Some people have the perception that homeschooled children aren’t as well socialized as children who learn in a traditional classroom. What they don’t realize, though, is that the flexible homeschooling schedule opens up many extra opportunities, including community service opportunities. One activity we’ve pursued for a number of years is visiting our local nursing home.
We first started about 11 years ago, when my older three children were 1, 3, and 5 years old. Both of their granddads had passed away, and I wanted them to get to know an older man, sort of an “adopted grandpa.” We started visiting a gentleman there once a week, and we continued until he passed away about a year later. It was so good to watch the children interact with him, and I know he looked forward to our visits.
The nursing home then arranged for us to visit a grandma who rarely saw her family. We went once a week to talk with her for the next two years until she passed away. Through our conversations, we learned how she and her siblings made their own toys, put their milk in the creek to keep it cold, and ate cornbread for supper.
We are still visiting that same nursing home. These days we go once a month with friends to perform for the residents. Two of my children play piano and two play the violin. Others who come play the guitar, sing, recite, or even dance. After they’re finished, we go around and talk to each resident.
These visits have become invaluable for my family. What began as just something good to do has shaped my children into understanding and compassionate kids. They’re not worried or afraid when they see someone with extreme disabilities; they are able to go right up and talk to that person, even if that person is unable to answer them. They know the impact a touch on the hand or shoulder has on someone who can’t reach back. And they know the value of a hug for someone who is so lonely.
They’ve also gained confidence in standing up in front of people. The audience couldn’t be more gracious – they appreciate anything the kids do. Both beginning musicians and the more experienced ones are able to do well; even if they make mistakes, no one minds.
So if you’re looking for a community service opportunity for our kids, set up a visit. Just call your local nursing home, and they’ll get you in touch with the right person. It will be such a blessing for the residents – and a blessing for your family!
Homeschool Activities by SmartTutor.com
Article by Samantha Bell
Photo By Kara Newhouse