Service learning and community service are often thought of as two interchangeable experiences, evoking images of students picking up trash along the roadside, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or collecting items for a canned food drive. All of these community service activities are of great benefit, teach valuable lessons, and people (young and old) should be encouraged to take part. Service learning, however, takes community service to the next level. The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse states that “service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.”
The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse has identified several studies that highlight the benefits of service learning. Youth who participate in high-quality community-based service-learning are likely to benefit in a number of ways (Chung, 1997; Coe-Regan et al, in press; Lewis-Charp et al., 2003; Tannenbaum, S. C., 2007; and YMCA of the USA, 2004):
One of the many benefits of homeschooling, is that you often have the flexibility to adjust your schedule to accommodate a variety of activities such as music lessons, field trips, sports, and other group activities. Why not set aside some time each month to include service learning as part of your regular schedule?
The Hands On Network, an organization that “inspires, equips, and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world” provides 7 tips for successful service-learning projects:
For detailed information about service learning, visit The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse.
For project ideas and networking, check out these resources:
KooDooz (a social network for kids who want to make a difference)
Roots and Shoots (The Power of Youth is Global: The Roots & Shoots network connects youth of all ages who share a desire to create a better world.)