For the Kid at Heart: How to Volunteer with Children Abroad

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Volunteering with children is a chance to have an impact in diverse communities, gain experience with kids, and keep your own inner child happy (it’s basically the best excuse to play games all day). Becoming a volunteer with children abroad goes way beyond orphanages in Africa (although that is a great place to start). There are many options available for anyone who wants to get involved with kids. Education, mentoring, coaching, these are just a few of the ways to make a difference with children around the world.

For the Kid at Heart: How to Volunteer with Children Abroad

Want to lend a hand in shaping today’s youth? Take a look at a few ways to volunteer with children abroad to help you pick a volunteer program.

Teaching Assistant

Education is fundamental to youth development. Get right to the heart of it by exploring volunteer teaching opportunities abroad. You don’t need to be pursuing a degree in education to volunteer with children in a school setting. The only prerequisites to volunteer as a teaching assistant abroad are a love for children and a passion for learning.

Many schools that offer English language classes like having a native speaker on hand to help with pronunciation and fluency. Therefore, they recruit English speakers from around the world to join them in the classroom, with no experience necessary (but always helpful), and teach English to their children.

Woman holds African child
As a volunteer in an orphanage, you will make special bonds with the children.

As a teaching assistant you can typically opt to work with high schoolers or primary-school aged kids, depending on your preference. You can assist in teaching English or other subjects that you know well, including music, drama, or other performing arts. If you have a background or interest in working with disabled children, look into opportunities to volunteer with children that allow you to work with special needs kids.

Volunteering abroad with children as a teaching assistant is a fundamental part of boosting international education and increasing awareness of other cultures.

Not just for the kids either - being immersed in the classroom from day to day, you will get a unique insight into the lives of your students (there is no better way to learn about local pop stars).

Mentor

One of the most popular choices for people looking to volunteer with children is to spend time in an orphanage. Volunteering in orphanages is a great way to develop a close relationship with kids and an opportunity to take on the role of mentor (but, only if you intend to volunteer for an extended amount of time, or maintain the relationship as a pen pal once your stint abroad has ended). As a mentor, you can help children with lessons during class and with homework after class. You can also organize your own programs, such as arts and crafts, sports, or music, to help give children a well-rounded learning experience.

Smiling children in Myanmar
Get to know culture from the inside out by volunteering as a teaching assistant abroad.

This type of volunteering is also a chance to take part in the daily operations of an orphanage, from preparing food to cleaning to being a support system for the children. When you volunteer in orphanages you’ll be acting as a big brother or sister and working to develop meaningful relationships, so you should volunteer for longer than just a week—the more time you can commit the better, as the stronger the relationships you build will be.

It is important to make sure you are working with a reputable organization when volunteering in orphanages. Be sure to do your research into programmes and pick one that is doing genuine good. GoAbroad has a thorough verification system, plus extensive alumni interviews and reviews to help you critically evaluate programs, so it’s a great place to start looking for orphanage volunteer work. Get started by asking yourself these important questions about volunteering with orphans.

Coach

Why not share your passion for sports by volunteering abroad with children as a coach? No matter what sport you coach, this option is guaranteed to make you laugh every single day. Sports are a universal language, so it doesn’t matter if you are kicking a soccer ball in Brazil or batting a cricket ball in India, you will be able to connect and have fun as a volunteer with children anywhere.

Young boys playing soccer in Brazil

Depending on where you go, you may be required to coach one specific sport or have the opportunity to coach whichever sports you’d like. You don’t need to be an expert in a specific sport; as long as you know the basic rules and are interested in working with children, you can coach abroad. Coaching is as much about teaching and mentoring as it is about learning a sport.

Often, coaches are also be required to assist with teaching English in the classroom or running their own class on fitness, advanced soccer skills, or anything related to sports and exercise.

Where to Volunteer with Children Abroad

Lucky for you, zeroing in on a destination to volunteer with children abroad ultimately depends on the culture you are most attracted to, where you perceive has the most need, or where you think you could do the most good, all within your budget for both time and money.

African children running and laughing
Working with children abroad will make you smile every day.

Popular destinations for volunteering with children abroad include:

Choosing exactly how to volunteer with children is only a detail. Whether you choose to teach, work in an orphanage, or coach sports, you will be able to help children learn and develop, and most importantly, have lots of fun.

Find the best opportunity for you to volunteer with children now!