What Do Children Really Need?

My experience at Star Kids was nothing short of eye opening. Being surrounded by children in my family (three nieces and 2 nephews) I thought I knew what there was about kids. My first day as a Star Kids volunteer proved all that wrong. The semester was just starting and you could not only tell but feel the excitement of the kids being back. To interact with each other, learn and sort of get out of one environment; home and into another. It opened me up into seeing that children truly just want and need the little things in life to get them by. After my experience, I believe in my core that with these few elements once instilled, a child will grow to become a great human.

  1. Emotional Support

We’re living in crazy times. More so, in a country where mental health is not greatly discussed. According to WHO, one in four people suffer from some sort of mental disorder. Emotional support given to us while still young instils how we manage and get through the difficulties of life. That is why it is important to choose words carefully when it comes to speaking to children. They truly will make or break them.

The children at Star Kids are born into difficult situations. Star Kids takes it upon themselves to give them a space where they can talk to the volunteers/mentors. They give them an opportunity to speak to someone who will not only make them feel safe but reassure them that they are not alone. Words of encouragement and affirmation especially during the tasks and activities we did, made them believe that they truly could achieve what they want as long as they put God and their minds into it.

2. Consistency

Looking back at my first session at Star Kids, I remember being told that when the children see you often during the sessions, they get comfortable and open up to you. By the end of my last session as a volunteer, it felt great to hear the children remember my name, asking questions and telling me stories about their families. I developed a bond with the children and so did they.

Children want you to be present. They are not asking for much, just for you to show up. When they sense a shift or lack of commitment, they also pull back. The more you are there for them, the more they build their trust in you. That will make you more approachable and they will be more open to sharing more of themselves through conversation and play.

3. Education

Every child has a right to education. It builds and forms character in them. Star Kids had sessions where children would learn more about God, life and physical education. For it to be a little different from what they did in school, the sessions were centred around interaction, fun and life skills. From arts and crafts, public speaking to basic knowledge on how to take care of the environment around them.

Educating children in these areas I believe explained to them what life really is about aside from academics. It helped improve their confidence when asked to answer a question or tell us what they had learned on that day. Education gives them an opportunity to broaden their skills and create structure in their lives. You could tell that the children were so excited to spend their Saturday’s coming into the classes. They knew that they would leave having learnt something new from the Bible, played some fun games and the best part, leaving with a box of exciting learning materials to use at home.

4. Role models

It is important to know who is around your child and what they are feeding them mentally. The people we surround ourselves with, even as adults tend to be who you become in the long run. Children need to be guided and guided positively. If they manage to be guided well at an early age, they grow being strong and self-aware.

I would like to believe that the mentors and volunteers are some of the role models for the children. They give them hope that they too can grow up to be like them to encourage and teach other children. They look up to what you do for them and in some sense want to do the same for others. Asking children what they want to be when they grow up and helping push them in a direction that can help their dreams come true is what a role model should endeavour to do. So why not take up that chance and sign up to be that person for them as either a volunteer or mentor?

5. Love

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” We all need love to survive this earth. Love shown to children will project onto how they treat others around them. Even when they make mistakes, it is necessary for you to still show them that you care for them. Hostility around them will make them more closed off and fearful.

At Star Kids, they show the children they are loved by taking them step by step to teach them new things. The stories we tell from them Bible also show how God loves and cares for us even after experiencing tough situations. They also encourage them to share duties and learning materials exercising love for one another. We have all heard that love makes the world go round and teaching these children that creates a better world for everyone.

Children are so precious and they require so little to make them happy. All they need is someone to care for them but unfortunately, not all of them have that. We have been placed on earth to be that person for them be it a child in your own families or a child you have never met. Star Kids taught me this and so much more. The reward I got was to see their smile and genuine happiness from the opportunity that Star Kids gave them.

Written by,

Grace Maina.

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