Click on a question for your answer:
Q. I went to pick up my Little Brother for a scheduled activity and he wasn't there. What should I do?
A. It's okay to feel disappointed or frustrated, but try not to take this situation personally.
Miscommunication and scheduling problems are common early in a match, and your Little (or his guardian) may not be used to scheduled social activities.
The best thing to do is contact your Match Support Specialist, who can help you work through it with your Little and your Little's parent.
You can reduce the chance of a no-show by using these tips:
- If possible, meet the same day and time each week
- Set up your next outing each time you meet.
- Be sure to communicate with your Little's parent about your scheduled activity. This increases the likelihood that your Little will be home and helps ensure that a parent will be home when you pick up and drop off your Little.
- Write down your meeting times on calendars, one for you and one for your Little.
- Call the day before to confirm plans and call again before you leave to pick up your Little.
Q. What can I do if my Little frequently wants to spend money or doesn't want to leave at the end of an activity?
A. It's OK to say "no"
It can sometimes be difficult to say "no" to our Littles. As a Big, it is important to feel comfortable setting limits. Children thrive when they know what they can expect and what is expected of them. Some children will test adults in new settings to see how far they can go before they are told "no." Limit testing is common around issues of time and money. Call your Match Support Specialist to explore ways to feel comfortable setting limits with your Little without feeling guilty.
- When you pick up your Little, let your Little and his / her parent / caregiver know what time you will be back. As the end of your time together approaches, give your Little reminders. For example, "we have time to play one more game" or "we need to leave in 15 minutes."
- Remind the child that the focus of Big Brothers Big Sisters is friendship, not money
- If your match is new, it helps to start out by doing fun activities that don't cost you anything.
- Sit down together with your Little and brainstorm activity ideas you would like to do that don't require spending money.
- When you are arranging the activity, discuss with your Little and his/her caregiver whether you will be eating together during your activity or if your Little should eat before you pick him/her up.
- If your Little often says he/she is hungry during your activities, plan ahead and bring along a snack.
- Rather than asking your Little "What do you want to do?", provide your Little with a few free or low cost activities to choose from.
- Set a budget for the month and talk with your Little about the options. For example: "We have $20 to spend this month for our four activities. That can be $5 per activity, $10 on two outings and two free ones, or $20 on one outing and three free ones." ($20 is just an example).
- Stick to the limit you set. It's OK to say "no", but let them down gently.
- Remember, your Match Support Specialist is here to problem- solve and assist. Your MSS can also talk with the child about realistic expectations of the program.
Q. I'm having trouble keeping in touch with my Little. How can we keep our match going if my Little does not have a phone?
A. If your Little doesn't have a phone or the phone is often disconnected, it will take some extra effort to keep your match going.
Please contact your Match Support Specialist (MSS) right away if you begin to have trouble reaching your Little. We're here to help with such challenges. Your MSS will work with you, your Little and your Little's caregiver to develop a plan to overcome this barrier.
- Try stopping by your Little's house, leaving a note or sending a letter.
- Encourage your Little to call you if s/he has access to a phone somewhere other than home.
- Set up your next outing each time you meet. When you drop off your Little, communicate clearly with your Little's caregiver about the time and date of your next activity.
- Write down your scheduled activities on two calendars - one for you and one for your Little.
- Plan to meet regularly on the same day and time each week to limit needed phone contact
Q. What are some ideas for no-cost or low-cost type activities?
Listed below are many different ideas of things to do. You may also want to check with your local chamber office for upcoming events in your area. Also, make sure your MSS has your email address so that we can let you know when we have free event tickets or annual get-togethers for our matches.
- Pick up a ball & play catch, football, frisbee, baseball.
- Shoot hoops at a local school yard or climb on their playground equipment.
- Take walks using local nature trails (Janesville's Ice Age Trail goes through the city for miles).
- Fly a kite.
- Play a board game or put together a jigsaw puzzle.
- Plant seeds in flower pots & watch them grow - give away as gifts!
- Check out local events like festivals, parades, concerts.
- Have a picnic.
- Take the dog for a walk.
- Volunteer together at a local food pantry, humane society or other community need.
- Take pictures during all your get-togethers and put a scrapbook together.
- Bake cookies.
- Play cards or work on a crossword puzzle together.
- Do a good deed for someone - rake leaves, shovel snow, bake cookies or mow a lawn.
- Visit your Littles open house and school to meet their teacher.
- Visit a museum or art exhibit.
- Visit the Henry Vilas Zoo (Madison - free) or Rotary Gardens (Janesville - free).
- Take a bike ride.
- Do something special each holiday: make valentines cards, go trick-or treating, bake holiday cookies, visit an apple orchard, go to a haunted house, see a summer parade, color Easter eggs, carve a pumpkin.
- Learn something new together - go golfing, make a bird house, go ice skating, learn to fish.
- Visit your local public library & research something of interest.
- Visit your local farmers market or your county fairs.