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The Ripple Effect

Corinne Hancock, Director of Leadership
Friday, March 18th

From one little pebble, the ripples go out in ways we cannot imagine. All of us can be that small pebble that starts the ripples--and we can help our children do the same. At Aspen we teach social responsibility so students understand that they become something larger than themselves, that civic action can be a solution to their own problems.

Service learning promotes good deeds and academic success. So how do you prepare your children to be engaged citizens?

  • Celebrate the diversity in your community. Recognize all of the strengths and skill levels of the people and encourage them to participate in the community.
  • Incorporate environmental literacy into all areas of your life and conversations. Teach kids about the interdependence of life forms; that materials flow through our ecosystems; that we are consumers of resources; that humans have an effect on environmental systems. Read about environmentalists, visit local rivers and streams to observe ecosystems. Learning through hands-on discovery is a sensory activity that has a great impact.
  • Create family democracies that have real power. Allow children to make recommendations to parents and school leadership groups. Assist them in learning the process of decision making; if it is always done behind closed doors they will never know what questions to ask so they can learn to govern themselves. Just as we teach “think alouds” in reading, we should teach “think alouds” in decision making.
  • Encourage children to make small changes through group action. Write letters to decision makers about problems. By asking questions about how an issue affects their lives, kids can begin to see that they can become part of a solution.
  • Have fun and communicate. Ask your child at the end of each day. “How were you of service today?” Really listen and acknowledge and share your actions as well.
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