Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, or just enjoy kids, working with preschoolers can be fun and rewarding. And if you’re planning on becoming a volunteer with 3-5 year olds, here are five great tips for making it the most positive experience for the kids and for you!
1. Be Helpful
Teachers really appreciate volunteers who are ready to lend a hand. Simple tasks can include helping children wash their hands, offering to prep a craft for a teacher, encouraging distracted children to eat their lunches and tidying up after activities. Just ask how you can assist.
2. Be Friendly
When interacting with preschoolers get down and meet them at eye-level when you can. Make eye contact and smile! Be a cheerleader and use lots of high fives and thumbs-up. Learn and use each child’s name. In volunteer training, the one message I work to get across: if you learn and call the children by their names, you’re way ahead of the game!
3. Let your inner child out
Quite simply, the more fun you’re having, the more fun the kids will have. What better place to be playful and silly than working with kids who live in the moment? Children will gravitate towards your energy and enthusiasm. Be safe, but always look for opportunities to play and be playful: monkey bars, ooey gooey art projects, talent shows and more. Bring it on!
4. Be inclusive
It’s always easier to spend time with kids who are comfortable and love being in a program. But volunteers can make a deeper impact by taking time to make a new or hesitant child feel welcome. You can do this by using their name, becoming their buddy or partner until they feel at ease, and introducing them to other children.
5. Share your passion
A great way to be involved and engaged is to share your expertise in a certain area. Do you have a special hobby, a special talent or a job that would be interesting for a preschooler? It’s so much fun to teach kids how to juggle, cook, garden or learn about bees and bugs. Be creative. What might be routine to you is eye opening and fascinating to a preschooler!
Go now and get your hands a little messy!