Find the best mentoring program for your child

How do you find a mentoring program for your child? Explore tips for finding the perfect program.

Most successful people can reference multiple mentors in their lives who helped them build skills and qualities that led to their various accomplishments. Many youth find these people, or mentors, naturally through school, sports or other activities. Planned youth mentoring programs can fill a need when natural mentors are not easily found by providing a child or teen with a caring, trusting relationship with an adult or older peer.

Finding the right mentoring program for your child can be a daunting task. The first thing to do is to think about why you are looking for a program. Most of the time there is a specific need that you are looking to fill. Perhaps your child is having difficulty socially or academically. Sometimes the young person is lonely or needs individualized attention. There are many reasons to seek out a program. When you identify your reason it is easier to determine which program is the right fit.

To begin your search, visit MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. On the homepage, you’ll find a tool where you can enter your zip code; this will produce a listing of programs near you. Each organization listed provides an overview of the type of mentoring offered, which ages are served and where it’s located. By clicking on the program name, you can learn more about the organization. As you look through the list, remember your reason for seeking out a mentor. Does the program help you meet the need you identified?

As you look through lists, you will see some terms that might need further explanation. Let’s look at a few of these terms. First, mentoring programs are often described as community-based or site-based. Community-based programs do not have a set meeting place. The mentor usually picks the young person up from their home and their visits take place at mutually agreed upon places such as a movie theater, park or coffee shop. Site-based (sometimes called school-based) programs take place at a location like a school or neighborhood center where mentors and youth meet at the same location weekly. These programs often have staff on-hand at visits.

Second, there are multiple types of mentoring and programs may use one or more of these models. One-on-one mentoring is the model that many people recognize. This is when a child and one young person are matched together. Group mentoring matches up to four young people with a mentor and the group meets together. Peer mentoring involves older youth serving as a mentor for younger youth – perhaps a high school student mentoring a middle- or elementary-school student.

E-mentoring is the newest mentoring model. E-mentoring relationships take place through virtual communication including email or websites.

So, how do you know which one to pick? Chances are you know the answer based on your child’s needs and personality. If you are unsure, call a program and talk to staff to see if it is a good fit.

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few programs, see “Select a quality mentoring program for your child” for things to consider when making the final decision.

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