Connecting children to the larger community is a beneficial practice for the children as well as for the community. Service-learning is an excellent way to build empathy, build relationships with families, and reinforce many cognitive, language, social/emotional, and physical skills.
According to Vanderbilt University’s Janet S. Eyler and Dwight E. Giles, Jr., service-learning is:
“a form of experiential education where learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students. . . seek to achieve real objectives for the community and deeper understanding and skills for themselves. In the process, students link personal and social development with academic and cognitive development. . . experience enhances understanding; understanding leads to more effective action.”
The National Youth Leadership Counsel has developed learning standards related to service-learning that help guide the development of meaningful and appropriate service-learning projects. The standards are geared for K-12, however there are many parallels that apply to early learning environments as well. Keep these ideas in mind as you plan projects for children in your care:
Service-learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities.
Link to Curriculum
Service-learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.
Service-learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.
Service-learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.
Service-learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service-learning experiences with guidance from adults.
Service-learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs.
Service-learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.
Duration and Intensity
Service-learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.
From K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice https://nylc.org/standards/
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CLICK HERE for service-learning project ideas for Director’s Corner