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Volunteer with Children

Why volunteer with children?

Volunteering abroad with children is a great way to add to children’s education, health and well-being, and future employability on a global scale. And, when you volunteer with children, you’re a part of equipping them with life-long skills that will help build on their progress in school and in life. 

Imagine adding to a student’s self-confidence by teaching them how to sink a soccer ball into the back of a netted goal. Or, consider the satisfaction they’d feel when they finally get that maths equation right after being tutored by a volunteer for a few days. The ripple effects of your volunteer work will have a real impact in the lives of the children you’re volunteering with. 

And are there any benefits for the volunteer? Yes, volunteering with children is bound to have a big impact on you, too. How? Well every GVI program promises that you’ll make an impact, improve your employability, and be supported before, during and after your volunteer experience. And, this foundation paves the way for you to add to your personal and professional development in meaningful ways while volunteering with children. 

You can also see some of the most sought-after travel destinations in the world while doing volunteer work with children on a GVI program. GVI operates on these five continents:

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Australasia
  • Europe
  • South America.

You could visit the historic Inca Empire and experience the legendary Machu Picchu while you spend some time volunteering with children in Peru. Or, how about learning to speak Spanish while you add to childhood development in Mexico or Costa Rica.

And, GVI’s volunteer with children programs are top-rated by GoAbroad.com, so you’ll also be signing up for some of the best childhood-development opportunities out there. These projects are perfect for gap year students, over-50s or career breakers who are passionate about making a positive impact, and love working with children. 

How GVI adds to sustainable childhood development efforts

GVI’s volunteering with children programs around the world contribute towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Why does this matter? Well, this means that our activities are aimed at the most relevant global issues. And, by collaborating with local communities, GVI is able to offer you a meaningful experience abroad where you can make a real impact in building on childhood development globally.

Because providing children with a stable and consistent learning experience is key, sustainability is a vital part of all our volunteer work with children. For this reason, when you take part in volunteer work with children abroad, you’ll work with local teachers in community-led initiatives. This ensures that, even if volunteers come and go, volunteer work doesn’t disrupt classes or have a negative impact on children’s learning.

It’s also important to note that GVI does not support orphanage volunteering in any of our locations. For more information check out our stance on orphanage volunteering. We partner with a number of reputable local and international organisations, and regularly review our comprehensive Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy.

And, because child safety is our top priority, all staff and participants are required to complete a police background check before arrival on their chosen program. On-site child protection training is provided to every volunteer and staff member on a regular basis. We also protect children from cyber and real-world threats by ensuring that our marketing material follows child protection best practices.

How can I volunteer with children abroad?

At GVI, there’s a whole host of ways that you can work with children through volunteer programs. These include assisting in childhood education in schools, working with children through sports programs, as well as facilitating health-education workshops with children at community organisations.

And, volunteers don’t need to be skilled, or have previous experience in working with children when joining one of these volunteering abroad with children programs. Why? Because every project provides orientation and comprehensive training that’s led by experts. This training will get you up to speed on everything you need to know before you start volunteering with children. 

Build on access to quality education by volunteering with children

For those volunteers who want to focus specifically on teaching, we offer education and teaching programs where you can contribute towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 4: Quality Education.  

You can take part in volunteer work with children, centred on education, in any of the following destinations abroad:


Which one is best? Well, all of our volunteering with children programs in education offer the best opportunities to add to global goals, no matter where you are in the world. At every location, you’ll get to work with local teachers to develop relevant, effective and engaging lesson plans that aim to make it easier for local students to achieve their academic potential. 

And, you’ll also get to deliver these plans to your class, and gain first-hand experience in what makes volunteer work with children successful. 

Volunteering with children abroad could also involve teaching English language classes. This is important because being able to speak English can improve the access that children have to employment opportunities in the future.

Get involved in sports education volunteering with children 

But what if you’re more keen on volunteer opportunities with children that add to physical education? Well, we offer sports-focused volunteer programs too! 

For example you can travel to Kochi, Kerala, and get involved in volunteer work with children in India that builds on their health and well-being. Similarly, in South Africa, you can contribute to childhood development by facilitating sports lessons during school, or as an after-school activity. These programs will allow you to volunteer with children in a range of different sports, including: 

  • athletics
  • cricket 
  • football 
  • netball 
  • tennis.

Make an impact in marine conservation by volunteering with children

In Fiji, getting involved in our Tropical Marine Biology and Conservation program or our Marine Conservation Expedition goes way beyond ensuring the well-being of marine ecosystems.

This is because the community has to be included in marine conservation activities to ensure that marine conservation efforts are sustainable.

By volunteering in marine conservation, you’ll also get involved in volunteer work with children that’s focused on marine conservation education. 

You’ll plan lessons on marine species, environmental awareness, recycling, water conservation, and any other topics that are relevant to the community you’re working in.

These projects are a great way to broaden your understanding of sustainable development. Why? Because it can show you how volunteering with children in education can have an impact on other aspects of sustainable development – like marine conservation.

How can volunteer work with children add to my personal and professional development?

Every day abroad, volunteers get to benefit from experiences that add to their personal and professional development. See your communication skills blossom while collaborating with local teachers to organise lesson plans. Or, take a step back after a few weeks of engaging with school-aged children in class, and take note of how much your lesson planning skills have grown. These are the types of personal and professional development that you’ll be building on each day while volunteering with children. 

And, becoming a volunteer with GVI could also broaden the network of professionals and organisations you can contact for advice or employment in the future. How? Well, at all of our destinations abroad, we partner with reputable local and international organisations to achieve global goals. 

These are some of the local and international organisations we partner with:

  • Bright Centre for Vocation Development 
  • CoralWatch
  • ChildSafe
  • SASANE Sisterhood Trekking and Travel
  • Save the Children Fund
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA).

So, for instance, if you volunteer with children in Mexico, you’ll get to work with the local branch of the global charity organisation, Save the Children. 

As a volunteer, you’ll assist in supporting local Save the Children staff in their day-to-day activities at a centre. This could include:

  • facilitating English language lessons 
  • assisting children in completing their homework 
  • reading with children
  • organising sport and craft sessions.

Having this type of work experience on your CV will go a long way in improving your employability in the fields of childhood education, or sustainable development. 

Our volunteers and staff on base are also committed to making the learning experience fun for the children and volunteers alike. Why not hold a mathematics class outdoors, and assist children in learning to count by using the shells that dot the beaches in Zanzibar?

How do volunteering with children programs ensure volunteer health and safety?

GVI has a comprehensive, and regularly updated Health and Safety policy that’s the foundation of all our activities abroad. If you decide to get involved in volunteer work with children abroad, you’ll be taken through this policy during orientation. This will fill you in on health and safety procedures with regards to:

  • health and safety on base
  • on-project health and safety
  • off-site health and safety – including what to do when travelling on your own, or with friends during your time off. 

 

Our staff also undergo regular health and safety training, to ensure that they are well versed on health and safety procedures. In this way GVI promises a safe volunteer with children experience at every one of our overseas locations.

In response to COVID-19, we’ve put together new health and safety protocols to help ensure a safe experience for GVI staff, participants and local communities working on any volunteer with children programs. In line with this, we have a newly appointed health and hygiene team that will make sure that our standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours meet or exceed international recommendations. 

You can read more about how GVI ensures volunteer health and safety in this article: How the best volunteer travel programs ensure your health and safety.

Where can I volunteer with children?

We know that picking a location to travel to is a big deal. You want to be sure that you’ll have experienced plenty of new things when you return from your volunteering with children trip abroad. 

Well, with GVI’s 21 incredible locations across 13 different countries, you can be certain that you’ll find the perfect location for adventure. So, whether you're looking to help support children in the island nation of Fiji, or to demonstrate the importance of sustainability to children in Thailand, GVI has got you covered. Here are a few examples of locations where you can volunteer with children.

Volunteer with children in Asia 

Taking part in volunteer work means being immersed in local cultures, and experiencing the sights and sounds of locations while adding to global development.

In Asia, you could volunteer with children in Laos, Cambodia, India or Nepal.

Here’s an example of what you’ll experience while volunteering with children in Nepal.

Because of its challenging trekking opportunities, Nepal is one of the most sought-after travel locations for the adventurous volunteer. By volunteering with children in Nepal, not only will you be contributing towards making an impact in children's futures, but you will have the Himalayas right on your doorstep. 

Volunteer with children in Nepal and contribute to ongoing education initiatives that have been developed by our staff and in-country partners. All work done with children here aims to work towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 4: Quality Education. 

The overall objective of these education programs in Nepal is to provide resources to improve developmental and learning outcomes for students. 

Volunteering with children abroad in Nepal enables you to support teachers at a local primary school by providing children with individualised support with their school work. The aim is to maximise the children’s understanding in all areas of learning. This will be different for each child and could include literacy, numeracy, as well as skills such as hand-eye coordination, social interaction and teamwork. 

Volunteers can also support children in improving their conversational English skills, which will assist them in accessing even more educational and employment opportunities in the future.

GVI offers two different trekking opportunities for volunteers to tackle before or after volunteering with children in Nepal – the Annapurna sanctuary trek – which takes just ten days to complete, and the Everest base camp trek – a two-week trek that will allow you to really challenge yourself. 

Volunteer with children in Africa 

In Africa, volunteers can start off their day greeted by the African sun, and fall asleep at night under an African sky.

You could get involved in volunteer work with children in South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia or Zanzibar.

Here’s what your volunteer-with-children experience could be like if you travel to South Africa.

When you choose to volunteer with children in Cape Town, you’re in for a real treat. South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world, with 11 official languages and each province offering up a different type of landscape to discover. 

GVI’s volunteer work in South Africa is based in Gordons Bay – a coastal village at the foot of the Hottentot Hollands Mountain Range – which is a 45-minute drive from Cape Town. This area is home to safe swimming beaches, sprawling wine farms, and plenty of restaurants and bars dotted around. Gordons Bay is also the starting point of the popular Garden Route, making this the perfect base to explore the rest of what the Western Cape has to offer.

Volunteers in Cape Town have the opportunity to assist with childhood development, not only academically, but also through sport and other physical activity. 

Participating in sports from a young age has many health benefits, like reducing the risk of obesity, improving cardiovascular fitness, promoting the healthy growth of bones, and adding to coordination and balance. 

But aside from the obvious health benefits, children are also able to de-stress and unwind when they have fun through sports. This is because being active releases endorphins, which improves mood and boosts energy levels. Sports can also teach children to work in teams towards achieving a common goal, and enhances their strategic thinking. Having the option to participate in sports programs is important as it gives children who aren’t as strong academically a platform to excel in a different area, which can build self-esteem. 

During time off, volunteers in South Africa can choose to visit one of the country’s eight United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites. Or, get their blood pumping when they catch sight of animals on safari – like the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino that make up South Africa’s famous Big Five.

Six questions to ask before you volunteer with children

Before deciding to take a trip to volunteer abroad with children with GVI, there are a few questions you probably want answered. 

Q: Do I need any specific qualifications?

A: No qualifications are required to volunteer with children on a GVI program. All necessary training will be provided by our qualified staff members and field experts. This ensures that the safety of the children we work with, as well as our volunteers, is prioritised every step of the way.

Q: How old do I have to be to volunteer with children?

A: Volunteering with children abroad isn’t just for those adults or over-50s who may have had plenty of experience with children. Whether you’re on a university gap year or on a career-break – you’re welcome to volunteer with children with GVI. Participants of all ages are required to complete a police background check before arrival on their chosen program, and on-site child protection training is provided once they arrive to volunteer.

Q: Can I teach sports when I volunteer with children? 

A: While sports don’t always form a part of the curriculum of the schools we partner with because of a lack of resources and funding, GVI tries to incorporate sports and time outdoors into our volunteering with children programs.

At GVI we understand the importance of sports for childhood development, and the importance of managing both physical and mental health. Sport also allows learners who are not academically inclined the chance to excel in another area. This can often boost the confidence of these learners. You can learn more about the topic of sports and early childhood development by reading this article: Five reasons why sport is important in early childhood development.

Q: How long can I volunteer with children?

A: You can choose to volunteer for anywhere between 1 week to 6 months, depending on the volunteer abroad with children program you have chosen.

Q: Will I get paid to volunteer with children?

A: No. You will have to pay the usual volunteering program fees with GVI. 

So why pay to volunteer? By contributing to a project as a paying volunteer, you are assisting in supporting communities abroad, and ensuring that programs are efficient and beneficial to children in the long run. You are also investing in your own training and development, so you can continue making an impact in the world long after you’ve finished your volunteer with children program.

Q: Who will I be volunteering with?

A: Volunteers with GVI come from all around the world. And, because of this, you’ll get to interact with people from different backgrounds, who have a range of cultural beliefs. You will more likely than not find yourself leaving your volunteer experience with new life-long friendships.

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