SEL is all about learning and understanding how to properly express our emotions, interact with others, and being empathetic – the holiday season is a perfect time to practice empathy, gratitude, and social skills. One way that we can do this is through volunteering. Volunteering is not only beneficial for our social skills as it allows us to expand our social skills by interacting with those we wouldn’t normally interact with, but it also allows us to expand our emotional skills and improve our physical and mental health.
Volunteering has a multitude of benefits, especially for social, emotional learning in people of all ages. According to Jeanne Croteau’s article These Volunteer Projects Help Teens Build Important SEL Skills, volunteering helps build SEL skills in teens by helping to teach compassion, leadership, social awareness, and much more. Lauren Barack’s article, Service learning strengthens SEL curriculum, reiterates the importance of volunteering to reinforce SEL lessons taught in classrooms. By volunteering students are able to practice compassion and communication skills as they work with new communities, people, and settings. Along with these benefits volunteering tends to increase a sense of belongingness to one’s community, do better in school, and decrease engagement in risky behavior (Volunteerism). Another major benefit of volunteering is the social skills that participants build. According to HelpGuide, volunteering allows one to create new friendships with those they meet.
Not only is volunteering beneficial on an individual basis, but can also benefit the family. Volunteering as a family allows for youth to witness and model social skills and positive behavior they witness their older family members practicing while volunteering (HelpGuide). Volunteering can help improve familial relationships and bonds as everyone is working together to improve their community or fight for a cause they all believe in. AARP discusses the importance of volunteering as a family by starting with a family discussion to determine what they all want to do to give back to their community. This conversation can help build positive communication skills to youth (and even adults), along with active listening skills and learning how to make compromises.
Volunteering is not only beneficial for one’s social, emotional skills, but it is also beneficial for their physical and mental health. Volunteering can increase levels of internal happiness, increase self- confidence, and battle depression (Benefits of Community Service). Volunteering also decreases one’s stress levels as they are focused on helping others. It also has been shown to decrease mortality rates in the long run (Helping people, changing lives: 3 health benefits of volunteering).
According to Volunteer Hub 35% of volunteers do so to interact with people in their community, 66% of people volunteer so they can help improve their community, 83% of people volunteer to help a cause they care about, and about 77% of non-profit organizations believe that volunteers improve their organization.
With this information in mind, we hope that you are inspired to give back to your community in one way or another!