Retirement is a precious time in our lives to enjoy the things we love most, whether it be traveling, gardening, reading, fitness, learning new skills, spending time with family and friends; the list goes on and on. Another way to enjoy and enrich retirement could be giving back to our kids and our communities. There are so many opportunities out there to take advantage of, but many folks don’t know where to begin.
Here are just a few ideas on how to get more involved according to Cynthia Ramnarace, a health and families writer for AARP.org:
1. “We would love to have grandparents volunteer to talk about their careers and what they believed made them successful in life — or what they would have done differently,” says Chuck Schiller, principal of St. Paul Lutheran School in New Orleans.
2. “We have grandparents help children with reading,” says Terry M. Nelson, principal of Midland Elementary School in Randolph County, W.Va. “They help students learn their sight words, and learn letter sounds.”
3. Volunteers are needed for extracurricular activities, says Barb Werstler, principal of Dodge Intermediate School in Twinsburg, Ohio. Grandparents could help run the chess club, book club or ski club and help coordinate events such as Pajama Day and Crazy Hair Day.
4. “We would love for grandparents to develop relationships with children who do not have grandparents,” says Montie Koehn, principal of Sequoyah Elementary School in Oklahoma City.
5. “I’d love a volunteer who’s willing to be taught computer skills by the children,” says Raquel Scharf-Anderson, director of student services at Pardes Day School in Phoenix. “Teaching reinforces skills learned in the classroom.”
6. “Grandfathers are desperately needed,” says Pat Stille Martin, teacher at Raleigh Egypt Middle School in Memphis, Tenn. “They help break up fights. They talk to the boys. They may play basketball or help them with a bully.”
7. Offer your career skills, says Jacqueline Edelberg, community activist who helped turn around the Nettelhorst School in Chicago. “If you’re a tax attorney, you can help us with tax stuff,” says Edelberg. “If you’re an accountant, you can help us with that. You don’t even have to like kids. I have tons of stuff you could do at home with a computer.”
8. Work one-on-one with a student on math or reading, says Dina Gerdon of Children First Academy, which serves homeless children in Tempe, Ariz., and Phoenix. “Many of our students are one or two grade levels behind, and having a caring adult to work with them can add that extra bump they need to achieve,” she says.
9. Bring history to life for students by telling stories of where you were and what it was like to live through the defining historical experiences of your lifetime, says Rhonda Parmer, principal of Frazier Elementary School in Houston.
10. “We love to have grandparents come read with children,” says Linda Anderson, principal of Sharon Elementary School in Orem, Utah. “A caring adult sitting by a child as they read and then discussing the book is the ideal situation to promote reading. Often parents have huge time demands as they try to provide for their young families. But grandparents can help fill this essential role.”