Home > Mom's Life > Work > Volunteering > Breaking the Ice on Volunteer Visits

Breaking the Ice on Volunteer Visits

If you and your children are planning to visit a nursing home, community center, or homeless shelter you may be feeling a little uncertain about what to do or say in the presence of strangers. Here are some suggestions to help your kids feel relaxed and comfortable.

  • Arrive bearing gifts. Having a homemade present in hand gives your child a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Whether it's cookies or a holiday mini-wreath for someone's bedroom door, children can explain how they went about making the gift and ask the other person about his or her holiday memories.

  • Bring along a favorite toy. It's a good way to strike up a conversation and it gives kids an opportunity to demonstrate how something works. "My son arrived at the local retirement home with a pair of stilts," recalls one mother. "Those long corridors were perfect! He had the residents in stitches!"

  • Don't forget the family pet. Most people living in communal settings can't keep animals and are thrilled at the unexpected appearance of a guinea pig or turtle. And who doesn't love the opportunity to stroke a well-behaved, unflappable dog? Be sure to check with the person in charge of activities before you come with your menagerie.

  • Call ahead and coordinate your visit with a scheduled mealtime. You and your child can help pass food and clear tables in the dining area, or go along on deliveries to individual rooms. It's fun for residents to observe kids in action, even if they're not interacting with them one-on-one.

More on: Volunteering



Where Should Newborns Sleep?
We've rounded up all the alternatives and considerations to make a safe choice for your new addition.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

5 Tips to Help Make Your Child Self-Sufficient
Follow these tips to help your child become self-sufficient, and help him learn the skills he'll need to take care of himself.

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks