Celebrate this Martin Luther King Jr. Day with your children in a way that reflects what he stood for: standing with and serving our fellow people. It’s not uncommon for us to volunteer or do charitable acts during the holiday season. But in the New Year, there tends be a lull in acts of kindness. While you have your children home from school on MLK Day this year, why not take the opportunity to instill a giving and serving spirit in them? Here are three ways to teach your children more about Martin Luther King Jr. and his “dream” while also following Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor.
1. Find a Way to Serve Your Community
Volunteer opportunities are always abundant in any community, but take a moment to pinpoint the needs that serve people different than you and your family. Find a soup kitchen that needs volunteers, bring baked goods and spend time with the elderly at a nursing home, help build a house with Habitat for Humanity or sort through the clothing donations with another non-profit. For a more low key and easy-to- do service project, pass free water bottles out to people at a safe park or mall on the other side of town.
Showing kindness to strangers teaches kids not to be closed off to those different than them and to be sensitive to the needs of others. MLK Day is a great time to get out there and serve where you’re needed most.
2. Find a Person To Give To
Giving to strangers is one of the most important skills we can teach our children. This MLK Day, have your children get involved in picking random strangers to bless. Maybe it’s buying the coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru or going out to dinner and anonymously paying for a family who seems to be having a rough day. Or, for a bigger project, take your children to the Dollar Store to pick out affordable necessity items like socks, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, combs and granola bars. Together, sort them out into large Ziplock baggies, roll them up and rubberband them so they’re easy to toss or hand off, and stash them in your car for easy access when you run into a homeless person begging on the side of the road instead of driving by.
Making giving to others more tangible than a monetary donation helps children associate value to the act while also making memories together as a family.
3. Find a Cause to Speak Out About
Martin Luther King Jr. was also known for his involvement in the Civil Rights movement. Teach your children about being involved in causes worth fighting for by spending your day off talking to them about the news and other issues going on in society today. Together, pick a cause they’re passionate about and brainstorm ways they can be involved. Look up your local senator’s contact information and have your child call or write a letter about the cause. If your child is passionate about the environment, find local clubs or organizations they can join to be a part of the change.
Finding ways to be involved in society on an ongoing basis prepares children to be lifelong servants and leaders in the community. Martin Luther King Jr. Day can be more than just a day for your children to be off of school. Make it a valued experience by teaching your children how to serve people different from them and set them up for a life as adults involved in the wellbeing of their local and national communities.