Helping Kids Connect with the Community

Researchers are weighing in on parenting once again, this time coming out in favor of neighborhoods. There’s great research out there showing how kids develop best in strong, connected communities (for example, this article http://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/cd/12_1/Leventhal.cfm), but many parents struggle to integrate into their own communities, especially in this day and age when so few people live in close proximity to family. Things get even more complicated when you are trying to connect with your kids in tow!

Here are some simple ideas for helping you and your children feel more connected to your community:

  • Start by learning the basics: What is your neighborhood community named and why? Where are its physical boundaries? What makes your neighborhood different from others around it?

  • Take advantage of community resources: go to the park closest to your house, visit the local branch of the library, join the community pool. By using local resources, you’ll create opportunities to connect with your neighbors. Plus staying local strengthens your neighborhood economy!

  • Introduce yourself: whether you’ve just moved into a neighborhood, or you are a longtime resident, take a moment just to say hi to the people who live in the homes closest to yours.

  • Ask questions: this is a great one for kids – come up with a list of questions to ask your neighbors, then go door to door and help your kids conduct their, “getting to know you,” survey. Make sure you keep the list short so no one gets frustrated!

  • Volunteer: at your kids’ schools, at a local food pantry, at a neighborhood assisted living facility. Helping those in need creates strong community ties, and teaches your kids about social responsibility

  • Check in: Bad weather coming? Knock on the neighbor’s doors and ask if they need help securing outdoor furniture! Bumper crop in your container garden? Share with the folks in your apartment building!

  • Share activities: when you’re taking advantage of those community resources, ask another mom along.The moms you meet on Mom Meet Mom may be similarly inspired to connect with the community but feel awkward doing it alone.

How do you connect with your neighbors? Do you have a story about a neighbor who made an effort to connect with you? Share in the comments!

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