Want your child to be more successful in the classroom and ultimately in life? Don't just tell them to hit the books—excessive studying leads to burnout. Instead, tell them to head out into the community to help others.
Why is Community Service Important?
At Whitby, we’ve found that students benefit greatly—both academically and emotionally—from volunteering their time to make the community and world a better place. That’s why all Whitby students start volunteering in fifth grade.
No act of kindness is ever wasted. -Aesop
While completing community service projects, students develop real-world skills that will help them succeed in middle school, high school and beyond. They practice:
- Collaboration with others
- Time management
Most importantly, students learn that the work they do can make a real impact in the world. By getting involved in community service at a young age, children also:
1. Develop a Richer Perspective of the World They Live In
Volunteering is an essential part of preparing students to "take responsibility as open minded, principled citizens in a global community." While performing community service, children have the opportunity to see first-hand just how much their work can have an impact on the world. Many of our students at Whitby volunteer locally at food shelves, animal shelters, in retirement communities, and even at orphanages abroad. They get to interact with people who have vastly different backgrounds, and learn patience and empathy as they develop a global perspective.
For example, Grade 5 Whitby students recently partnered with students in Grades 1 and 2 to host a "Green" (used) Book Fair. Through the sales of donated books, the children were able to donate money to help other children at Chester Addison Community Center in Stamford.
2. Connect What They Learn in School to the Real World
Community service gives students an opportunity to explore academic interests through a real world lense. If a child is intrigued when he or she learns about recycling in school, for example, they can pick up recyclables from local businesses and take them to a local recycling center to see the impact firsthand. Volunteering during an election can help them learn more about how the government functions, or cleaning up the Long Island Sound can help them learn more about environmental issues firsthand.
We've found that when students connect what they're learning in school to issues that actually matters in real life, they throw themselves into learning. Research also back this up. Studies show that students who give back to the community perform better in school, particularily in subjects such as math, reading, and history. Furthermore, students who participate in community service are also more likely to graduate from high school.
3. Get Ahead in the College Admissions Process
As admission to elite colleges and universities has become more competitive, volunteer experience can prove an advantage in the college admissions process. For that reason, many students start doing community service projects as they advance through high school. Students who begin earlier, however, have a distinct advantage because their breadth of experience allows them to quickly step up to leadership positions within organizations.
Starting community service before high school also has many other benefits for students. Those extra years of volunteering give students a leg up when applying for scholarships—especially scholarships that are designed to reward participation in community service. The relationships students build with other volunteers also work to their advantage when it comes time to ask for letters of recommendation for college applications and scholarships.
Whitby's Commitment to Service
When students get involved in community service, they not only help others — they expand their worldview, develop empathy and leadership skills, and realize how their actions can have a positive impact. They also return to the classroom realizing how what they’re learning applies to the real world, which reinvigorates their passion for learning.
That’s why we believe community service is important for students. Not just for the positive impact they can make on the world — but also for the positive impact volunteering has on them.