Serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.
Galatians 5:13-14

No child is ever too young to be shown that serving is a HUGE part of God’s heart. The phrase “service project” though always seems to carry the weight of a whole lot of work, time, and planning. And what parent of a preschooler can handle that? Life with little ones is full already.

So I wanted to give you ideas for serving that can be an outpouring of what your preschooler already does.

Cultivating that heart to serve can piggyback on everyday summer activities that already fill your days. Just take something you would normally do and transform it into an occasion to serve. 

To make your serving time a success

  • Don’t make it complicated. Simple is good. In fact, simple is best. 
  • Talk to your child ahead of time and explain that serving is showing love to people. Ask him or her, “What were some of the ways Jesus showed love to people?”
  • Serve someone outside your own family and do it face-to-face. At this age, actually meeting the people they’ll show love to is the way to go.

#1 Go berry picking at a local farm—

and set aside a pint of freshly picked blueberries, strawberries or raspberries for someone in need or someone you see every week. No need to wash them or package them up pretty or turn them into jam or shortcake. Just a bite into fresh juiciness might be the boost someone needs during a tough day.

You know the couple that sits next to you in church every week? Or the barista at Starbucks you see every week. Next time you see them you can say, “We’ve been praying for you. Could we drop something off this week?” Then surprise them with your gift of berries.

#2 Visit the zoo—

and invite a widow or widower from your church community to come along. Seriously. You have no idea how honored someone would be to be included in a family outing. God sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). Be a family to someone who doesn’t have one or to someone who’s missing theirs. 

#3 Do your regular grocery shop—

and let your kids pick out a greeting card for the cashier. I’ve done this before and it’s super easy. Have your preschooler “sign” the card. After you ring the card up, slip it in the envelope, seal, and have your child hand it to the cashier and say, “Have a great day!”

#4 Paint with bubbles—

at a nearby nursing home. A staff member from a local nursing home said that just having kids around is a huge encouragement to those who live at the nursing home. They love children so much. Go for a balloon toss, create some bubble art with residents or do any kind of art project.

Call ahead first to check if anything is required for your quick visit. Can you pop in and visit one person as you would if you were a family member? Can you bring a craft project to the main dining area? If there are restrictions or paperwork, assisted living facilities might be another option.  

#5 Have a picnic and watch planes take off—

and add a sign to the back of your car that says “Can our family pray for you today? Stop by and let us know!” You can pray then and there or have slips of paper along with a pencil that visitors can fill out and place in a bowl. Then take them home or after your picnic pray over each request.

Here in Minneapolis we have a great public viewing area for planes, complete with picnic tables and benches. It’s free and fun. 

#6 Munch a good-for-you snack—

at the police station. Kids often visit police officers and bring plates of doughnuts and other sweet treats. Diane, from my own neighborhood police station, said healthy snacks like fruit are always a win.

While police officers are usually the biggest draw, the office staff are key to making the department run smoothly. So don’t overlook them; surprise them with your visit too.

The big perk is that many police stations have goodie bags for kids. Watching the kids’ excitement when they get that bag is a gift itself for those who work there.

Cultivating a heart to serve in your preschooler can start with just a small step and with something you already do. Get a start this week with one of the ideas above or brainstorm one of your own–just be sure to share with the rest of us so we can do it too.

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