Is a volunteer opportunity with children in China right for me?
If you’re interested in traveling to Asia and doing volunteer work with children, China is a good option for you. We partner with overcrowded placements, where the staff need extra help to give kids enough support for early childhood education.
This project is especially suited to you if you want to pursue a career in childcare in the future. You’ll be able to add practical childcare experience to your CV. You’ll also learn about early childhood development in practice. The experience will give you interesting points to talk about in applications and interviews.
If you just enjoy spending time with children, you’ll also get a lot out of the experience. You’ll develop your personal skills, like communication and planning. You’ll also prove your ability to adapt to new environments, and you’ll learn to work with different kinds of people. These are useful skills to carry with you throughout your career and life.
You don’t need any previous experience to join. You’ll be supporting local staff and you can reach out to Projects Abroad staff at any time. We also have an online database full of resources that you can use freely. In addition, we run regular workshops for all Childcare and Teaching volunteers, where you can exchange ideas and discuss challenges.
If you’re interested in working with children who have disabilities, please let us know. Some of our placements work with children who have cerebral palsy and autism. You’ll have additional support from our staff if you choose to work with special needs children.
You can volunteer with children in China at any time, as the project runs throughout the year. You can join from as little as three weeks. However, the longer you stay, the bigger your impact becomes.
What will I do on this project?
Your main role is to support children at kindergartens, schools, or special needs centres. Here are the activities you’ll get involved with:
- Play educational games that teach important early childhood development skills and encourage learning
- Improve literacy and English language skills through regular classes
- Encourage body movement through classes and sport
Play games that teach important early childhood development skills and encourage learning
It’s important for all of our Childcare volunteers to make learning fun by playing educational games and doing outdoor activities. This is a great way to get kids engaged, and they’re more likely to retain what they learn if they’re having fun. Through these activities, you’ll help children learn about the world around them. It also gives them a better understanding of their own abilities.
Each activity has an educational angle. Working with arts and crafts helps them differentiate between colours and shapes. Completing a puzzle improves their problem solving skills. Playing ball games improves their hand-eye coordination. Do some research into the activities you do and use your imagination to make it entertaining!
Improve literacy and English language skills through regular classes
Teaching English is a big part of your role at this project. Start by getting an understanding of their current English level and slowly building up from there. Teach them basic English words, phrases, and introduce a few grammar rules if you think they’re ready.
Through English teaching, you’ll also be able to help improve literacy. We recommend reading stories with small groups, and helping with easy reading and writing exercises.
Encourage body movement through classes and sport
Physical activity is important for learning certain skills during early childhood years. You’ll teach fundamental movement skills to help children participate in games, sports, and other physical activities. These include:
- Locomotor skills (running, jumping, hopping, and skipping)
- Ball skills (catching, throwing, and kicking)
This work is critical at the special needs centres we work with. You’ll support the efforts of a local physiotherapist. You’ll do this by helping children to do basic stretches and movements which may be more difficult for them. Our aim here is to improve muscle strength and muscle memory, to ultimately improve their quality of life.
Where in China will I be working?
You’ll never forget arriving in Shanghai and being greeted by skyscrapers, high-rise buildings, and dazzling city lights. Shanghai is one of the most populated cities in the world, with more than 24 million people. Although the city is a constant hive of activity, there are still rural areas on the outskirts that are more traditional.
In Shanghai, you’ll work at a local kindergarten or at a special needs care centre. The placements are usually quite busy, so caregivers and teachers will appreciate extra support.
A typical day doing volunteer work with children in China
Your day will usually start over breakfast with the other volunteers at your shared accommodation. From there you’ll hop onto the metro and you’ll be at your placement before you know it. Our staff will accompany you on your first day, so you know where to go and how to get there.
A typical day runs from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. This includes an hour lunch break where you can get to know your local colleagues over your packed lunch.
Everyday is different, depending on your placement. You might begin with an English lesson about colours or animals. This can be followed by singing and story time. In between English lessons, you can organise a few games that stimulate the children and let them learn at the same time. You can play ball outside, build a puzzle, or spend time doing arts and crafts.
At the end of the day, you can hop back onto the metro and stop by the apartment for a quick meal. Or, grab a bite at one of the local restaurants in the area.
Over the weekends, you can visit the pristine temples or buy souvenirs on one of the many bustling city streets. You can learn how to make traditional Chinese dumplings, sing your heart out at karaoke, or find your chi at a Tai Chi class. There is plenty for you to do in Shanghai. Our local staff can point you in the right direction if you’re looking for any travel advice or things to do.
What are the aims and impact of this project?
The aim of this project is to support early childhood development at local kindergartens, primary schools, and care centres.
In China, many of the placements we work with have large classes and not enough staff. This makes it difficult for teachers and caregivers to provide individualised attention to each child. As a volunteer, you’ll support their work. You can also focus on smaller groups of children, especially those who are struggling and falling behind their peers.
We work with children who have special needs. While each child learns differently and at a different pace, those with disabilities need extra support. By providing them with more support, the children will be able to learn faster. They may even find it easier to complete day-to-day tasks over time.
Teaching English is a big part of our efforts to help children in China. Speaking English is a critical skill, and it can help open doors to better employment opportunities in the future.
With us, you’ll work towards the following goals laid out in our Childcare Management Plan for China:
- Promote early childhood development
- Improve the quality of life for those living with disabilities
- Increase English
- Improve hygiene levels of the children
- Improve the level of stimulation of each child
Help us achieve these long-term goals by joining us as a volunteer in China.
We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.
Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.
Measuring our impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
Leisure activities and free time
China is a vast country so it’s no surprise that it offers a wide variety of different tourist activities. While you’re volunteering, there will be plenty for you to do in the evenings and over the weekends.
What’s extraordinary about China is the contrasts of ancient and modern, rural and urban. You’ll find gleaming skyscrapers, like the Oriental Pearl Tower, only a short distance from the tranquil Yuyuan Garden.
There’s plenty to explore in the city, but it’s also worth taking a trip to the countryside. There you can trek along the breathtaking silk route or visit a Buddhist monastery.
A trip to China wouldn’t be complete without touring the country’s many natural wonders and World Heritage Sites. This includes the Great Wall of China, the Yangtze River, and the Terracotta Army.
With plenty of other volunteers in China, you’ll have the opportunity to travel with others and explore as a group. Or, if you prefer, you’re welcome to do your sightseeing independently.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.
Meet the team in China
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