Organise the First Visit
Now you have your visit all set up; the home and the volunteers are all ready to go. It’s the week before the big day and you’re probably starting to feel a little nervous, and one question keeps running through your head – ‘What on earth am I going to do?’
To save you from these last minute panics, have a look through this little checklist to ease your worried mind. Little things will make sure that your visit runs smoothly.
- For your first visit, your priority should be introductions and giving the kids and the volunteers plenty of time to get to know each other. Choose games that have lots of introduction opportunities.
- Do a questionnaire, like the one we have very nicely provided for you *here*. This will let you know what the kids themselves want to get out of the visits and the kind of activities they want to do. Plus, it nicely fills those last fifteen minutes!
- Consider the number of volunteers and children you’ll have. Preparing intricate small group activities for a group of fifty may be more hassle than it’s worth! Have a look through our Game Ideas – we have suggestions for groups of every size.
- Also think about the space you have. If you only have a small space available, you may want to avoid big, crazy run-around games. If this is the case, and you have nice weather, why not think about using the great outdoors? Check out our “Special Events” page for ideas on fun visits outside.
- Try to think well in advance what props and materials you’ll need, so you’re not up until the wee hours the night before, drawing and gluing things together! If you are making a lot of original materials, try and enlist some volunteers to help you –not only will you save time, but your volunteers will feel more motivated and included in the project. And remember to organise who is bringing what, so that nothing gets left behind!
Just because we’re so nice, here is one possibility of how you might think about timing that crazy first visit.
- 50 minutes of small group games. It will be easier for everyone to be introduced if you work in smaller groups. Think of about having a number of different small activities around the room, so that kids can move from one station to another. This keeps up the variety and allows all the volunteers and kids to meet each other.
- 20 minutes of down time. Give everyone a chance to relax, go to the bathroom and catch their breath. Everyone can kick back and chat in a more natural environment. If you’re worried about things getting awkward, little props can break the ice – something as simple as a set of sunglasses or a funny hat can get the kids giggling.
- 50 minutes of games everyone can play together, to end things on a high note. Games like “Duck, Duck, Goose” and “Bingo” are good, easy ideas and will have the kids really excited about your next visit!
Very important note: Please communicate with the home staff before your visit to ensure that at least one staff member will be present throughout the entire visit. Unexpected things can and may happen, and it’s best to have support there in case you need it.
Smile Kids Japan is not responsible for the actions of individual volunteers and volunteer groups.