Volunteer Work as a Child’s Preparation for Employment
Volunteer work is a natural rehearsal for paid work. Through volunteering (with or without a parent present), your grade schooler can mature in empathy, develop the ability to relate to others outside of home and school, and experience various aspects of work.
Your child has unique interests, skills, and abilities. What are they? How can they contribute to the well-being of others? Work with your child to discover ways to contribute to a cause, assist someone in need, or fill a gap in the community.
Talk with your child about the work-related benefits of volunteering.
- Volunteering is a work-like experience. Your child will gain experiences like building positive work habits, working for a supervisor, following through with commitments, putting forth effort, creatively solving problems, working with others, meeting goals or deadlines, and receiving feedback.
- Your child will learn specific job skills through volunteering that may provide a basis for paid work in the future.
- Your child will have opportunities to talk with others in a work-like setting, practicing skills like introducing herself, speaking respectfully, and casually chatting with peers.
- Your child will have chances to request and decline assistance as well as ask for reasonable accommodations. Accommodations, which are processes or technology that allow her to accomplish job tasks and/or access visual information, may include using large print, adjusting the lighting, using braille labels, or sharing/switching job tasks. While asking for reasonable accommodations, also known as self-advocating, your child will have the perfect opportunity to explain how her visual impairment affects the way she carries out her job tasks. This is all wonderful real world practice for her future in school and work.
- Your child will likely recognize the need to use blindness-specific technology. She may be motivated to learn or practice the use assistive technology in real world, relevant situations.
- You can coach your child in meeting and exceeding employer expectations over time. A volunteer supervisor is much like a future boss. An employer provides job training and expects the employee to require less assistance over time.
- You can coach her in workplace etiquette. You can adapt APH CareerConnect’s workplace etiquette lesson plan for use with your child. Useful etiquette lessons include tidying one’s workspace after use, following a dress code, showing interest in others, and giving others personal space.
- Your grade schooler will form an opinion on whether or not she enjoys working in a specific career field, career category, and/or work environment. For instance, she may volunteer her time entertaining toddlers in a hospital playroom. Her experience may allow her to realize she enjoys working in a loud, busy hospital but does not want to work with children. Instead of hoping to work as a pediatric nurse, she may aspire to work as a nurse for adults.
Having one volunteer experience opens the door for future paid or unpaid work experiences. To assist in choosing a volunteer experience, see APH CareerConnect’s volunteering lesson plan.