Is volunteer work with children in Costa Rica right for me?
If you have loads of energy, and enjoy the antics of little ones, Childcare in Costa Rica is perfect for you. You’ll support our early childhood development goals, which will give you practical childcare experience. This is especially useful if you’re planning on working professionally with children in the future.
If you have no experience in childcare, no problem. You’ll be supporting the work of local teachers and caregivers. Projects Abroad staff members will also be close at hand to help you. Throughout your stay, our staff will host regular workshops to help you. You’ll also have access to our database filled with educational resources like games and arts and crafts.
This project runs all year round, so you can choose when you would like to join from a minimum of two weeks. However, we recommend staying longer, so you can make a bigger impact on the project.
What will I do on the Childcare Project in Costa Rica?
Your primary role will be to provide additional support to the local teachers and caregivers at kindergartens and care centres. Here are a few things you can expect to do during your time there:
- Focus on basic education
- Plan fun activities that teach the children basic development skills
- Assist with important day-to-day practical tasks to help run the centres more smoothly
- Work with disabled or special-needs children in a special education centre, or volunteer at a centre for the elderly
Your volunteer childcare work in Costa Rica will focus on the following areas:
Increase literacy and numeracy
Reading, writing, and counting are essential skills. You’ll help children learn these skills, so they’re better equipped to cope with the demands of the first year when they start school. You’ll focus on those who are struggling by teaching literacy and numeracy to small groups.
Contribute to early childhood development
Fun activities that teach children basic skills are a fundamental aspect of a child’s development. By making your lessons entertaining, you’ll keep the children engaged in what they’re learning.
You’ll help the teachers and caregivers organise:
- Physical activities that encourage teamwork and the development of fundamental movement skills (like catching, throwing, and balance)
- Music lessons that encourage creativity
- Arts and crafts that teach the children about colours and shapes, and how to use their imagination
Assist with day-to-day care centre tasks
You’ll often be asked to assist the local staff with day-to-day duties such as serving food, washing up, and cleaning. This is essential to the daily running of the care centres.
Alternatively work with special needs children or with the elderly
Apart from working with younger children at care centres, you can be placed at a special needs centre. Here, you’ll help care for babies, children, and young adults with disabilities such as Down's Syndrome. You’ll provide much-needed support to the staff.
At the centre for the elderly, members are aged between about 65 and 90 years old. They really appreciate the company of our volunteers. They enjoy activities such as light physical exercise, card games and bingo, and arts and crafts. You may also be asked to help out with fundraising events and administrative and maintenance tasks from time to time. If requested, you might even be able to assist in the centre’s physiotherapy sessions.
Where will I work in Costa Rica?
Childcare volunteer work in Costa Rica happens in and around the city of Heredia. Heredia is just 10km from northern San Jose at the foothills of the extinct Brava Volcano.
One of Costa Rica’s most historical cities, Heredia was founded in 1705. It’s renowned for the many beautiful gardens and wonderful flora found around here. Located in central Costa Rica amidst vast coffee plantations and lush greenery, the city has a well developed tourist industry. However, poverty is a challenge many people face. There is always a need for extra assistance at local care centres, many of which lack resources.
If you’re interested in working with special-needs children or the elderly, there are also various suitable placements. Many of these placements are basic and understaffed. This means that the children often don’t receive the individual support they need.
A typical day as a Childcare volunteer in Costa Rica
Your day will start with a traditional Costa Rican breakfast, enjoyed with your local host family. After this, you’ll catch a bus to the placement where you’ll be working. On your first day, our staff will accompany you on your work commute. They’ll ensure you’re comfortable and know your way around.
A typical day will run from about 7 or 8am to 5pm, coinciding with kindergarten and daycare centre hours.
The aim of each day is to contribute to the development of young children that will help them succeed in the school system. You’ll do this through:
- Reading and role play activities that teach basic English
- Counting games that teach basic addition and subtraction
- Sports that improve kids’ balance and other fundamental movement skills
- Arts, crafts, or music lessons that enhance creativity and imaginative thinking
Evenings and weekends are your free time to relax and explore with new friends. You can easily reach the impressive Poas and Irazu volcanoes on a day-trip from Heredia. Elsewhere, numerous popular tourist destinations, such as Arenal volcano and Monteverde cloud forest, are only a few hours bus ride away.
You’ll also never be too far from the coast in Costa Rica. Spoilt for choice by the number of idyllic beaches, you'll have plenty of opportunity for water-based activities like surfing, swimming, snorkelling or scuba diving. The laid-back life of Costa Rica is infectious and you’ll find it hard to leave!
What are the aims and impact of this project?
The aim of this project is to improve early childhood development in disadvantaged communities in and around Heredia. We do this by helping local teachers and caregivers offer young children a well-rounded educational experience.
In Costa Rica, kindergartens and care centres are often overcrowded. This means local teachers and caregivers struggle to divide their attention equally. Because of this, certain children are not able to get the extra support they need.
We’re working to change this with the help of volunteers like you. To guide our work, we’ve identified five sustainable, long-term goals that you’ll work towards:
- Promote early childhood development
- Increase literacy
- Increase numeracy
- Raise awareness about healthy living, the environment and family planning
- Improve the quality of life for those living with disabilities
Help us achieve these long-term goals by working as a Childcare volunteer in Costa Rica.
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
With more than 25% of its land protected in national parks, Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. It has everything from volcanoes to tropical rainforests, and magnificent waterfalls to beautiful sandy beaches. This tiny country is also renowned for its biodiversity and boasts an array of wildlife.
The vibrant city of Heredia, where most of our projects are based, is situated in the heart of Costa Rica’s coffee-growing country. With its large student population and close proximity to the exciting capital city of San Jose, Heredia has an active cultural and social scene.
You can easily reach the impressive Poas and Irazu volcanoes on a day-trip from Heredia. Many other popular tourist destinations, such as Arenal volcano and Monteverde cloud forest, are only a few hours bus ride away.
You're never far from the coast in Costa Rica. Spoilt for choice by the number of idyllic beaches, you'll have plenty of opportunities for water-based activities like surfing, swimming, or scuba diving in your free time.
There will likely be other volunteers in Costa Rica with you. So you can choose to explore on your own or as a group.
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 Costa Rica
Not quite what you’re looking for?
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