4 tips for volunteering with children and teenagers
As committed as you are – you have also probably reached the limit of your possibilities. At some point, almost all of us become aware that our radius of impact is limited and that we will hardly be able to solve all the problems in the world. However, what is always possible is to change and shape the world of individuals in a positive way and thus initiate bigger changes.
This is particularly visible in the work with children and teenagers. Because children and teenagers are usually more open, unbiased and above all more curious than many adults. They take a lot with them from the shared time and contact with volunteers can be very valuable for them. In this way, they can be given values that will accompany them in their future lives. Because in the end we never change the world alone, but together. And what could be better than giving children and teenagers the desire to take action to improve our world?
In order to make your commitment with children and teenagers as effective as possible, there are a few things to consider, which is why we have summarised the 4 most important points below.
1. Take some time & build up trust!
Children need more time to get used to and build trust with people. For children, it is therefore of particular importance to commit for the long term. In addition, working with children and teenagers requires openness, flexibility and the willingness to get involved with children and their needs.
2. Be willing to learn from children as well!
Daliah Düring, a member of our partner organisation Gelbe Villa, said: “When engaging with children at eye level and taking their wishes and thoughts seriously while being clear and consistent at the same time, you can help improve their self-confidence and impact their future development. And even as an adult, it is enriching to learn from children and to develope yourself. “
3. Be aware that sometimes you will not work directly with children!
Please be aware that for some projects you work for but not with children. This applies for instance when supporting projects such as adventure playgrounds and children’s or youth clubs where you might have little or no contact with children. A reason for this can be that the presence of many adults would actually disturb the children playing. So don’t be disappointed if you do not always come into direct contact with children, since of most importance is that you do good for them.
4. Get yourself an enhanced criminal record!
When working with children and teenagers, most of the times you need to present an extended police certificate of good conduct. Do not worry, this is ticked off your to-do list quickly and is free of charge for volunteers.
WHAT IS A CRIMINAL RECORD CERTIFICATE?
A criminal record certificate (“Führungszeugnis”) is an extract from the Federal Central Criminal Register. It proves that you do not have a history of criminal offences. For the work with children and teenagers you need a so-called enhanced criminal record certificate (“erweitertes Führungszeugnis”). Before you can apply for this document, the social organisation you want to volunteer for will need to provide you with a letter.
HOW DO I REQUEST AN ENHANCED CRIMINAL RECORD CERTIFICATE IF I’M REGISTERED IN GERMANY?
You will find all the information required to request your criminal record here (in German). Whether you need a criminal record certificate for your volunteering activity will be communicated by the organisation you wish to work for. They will also support you with the application.
HOW DO I REQUEST AN ENHANCED CRIMINAL RECORD CERTIFICATE IF I’M NOT REGISTERED IN GERMANY (OTHER EU COUNTRY)?
If you’re not registered in Germany, it’s a little more complicated. The German Federal Office of Justice has signed agreements with some European countries which make it possible to request a criminal record check in your country of origin. In this case, you will obtain a European criminal record certificate (“Europäisches Führungszeugnis”). For further information, please contact the Federal Office of Justice:
Bundesamt für Justiz
– Bundeszentralregister –
Adenauerallee 99 – 103
+49 228 99 410-40
You want to get involved with children and young people?
Then have a look at vostel.de and discover numerous projects for volunteering with children and teenagers!
More tips and information on volunteering you will find in our volunteer guide or through our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). Here we will keep you up to date on everything important in the world of volunteering! So feel free to drop in there as well! 🙂
Your team from vostel.de