Community Involvement and the Virtual High School Student
Posted on June 01 2013
The perception that online high school students are shut-ins that are glued to their computers day in and day out is just that – a perception, albeit an erroneous one. The flexibility that a virtual high school affords the student actually provides him with plenty of opportunities to be fully immersed and involved in the community he lives in.
As the late Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” As parents whose children are earning their high school diplomas online, we can plant the seeds of greatness in our children by helping them understand that there is joy in serving others and in giving back to the community. Being involved in a worthwhile cause can be a very rewarding experience for anyone, but most especially someone who has yet to discover his or her place and role in the community and the world.
Community involvement can actually provide specific benefits to your child:
- Helps develop positive attitudes. Community service nurtures a sense of social responsibility the child see how he can make a difference for the good of the community. It can also foster an appreciation for what one has. Studies also indicate that community involvement decreases stress and depression.
- Helps foster meaningful relationships. Working with people from different walks of life can help develop interpersonal skills, as well as build a strong social network.
- Helps integrate learning into real-life situations. Civic involvement can be a good way to integrate the knowledge they have gained from the online classroom. It helps students apply abstract lessons (in economics, science and history) and relate them to real human needs and situations.
- Cultivates awareness of the community. A student who is actively involved in volunteer work has an increased awareness of society and politics. This is further cemented as they personally witness the effects of government policies on the community.
- Adds to your achievements. Although this is not the primary reason why one should volunteer, it is a great plus. Your child’s involvement in the community can actually make his resume look better to potential employers.
How Your Child can Help
Here are some ways that a volunteer can perform community service:
- Tutorials and mentoring. Students can share their knowledge to someone who is younger. This can come in the form of tutorials or in forming mentoring relationships (being a “big brother or big sister”).
- Helping out in various civic organizations and institutions. This can come in the form of hours spent ladling food in the local soup kitchen, helping in community cleanup drives or playing games with the grandmas and grandpas in the retirement home. Some institutions also have fund-raisers and drives (i.e. book drive, toy drive, etc.) where he can give of what he has and encourage others to do the same.
- Mission trips. Some organizations, especially churches, also provide opportunities outside of the community and even the country. Missions trips help expose the online high school students to a multi-cultural environment and a locality’s specific situation. Here, they can be called upon to do all sorts of volunteer work – teach, build or spend time with the people.
- Awareness campaigns. Volunteers can help increase awareness of a felt need or cause. This can be initiated by the national government or by special interest groups. They could participate in campaigns and activities such as the Earth Day campaign or “Be The Change” or formerly the National Gandhi Day of Service.
- Civic organizations. Membership in the local chapter of civic organizations can be a great opening for more volunteer activities. These organizations include The Junior Rotary, The Boy or Girl Scouts of America, the Kids’ Division of the Peace Corps, The Humane Society and other non-profit organizations.
Your child can also go to volunteer matching websites such as VolunteerMatch.org or DoSomething.org that directs would-be volunteers to opportunities to serve in various organizations.