Gearing up for the school year

How do you prepare for your school-based mentoring match? Here are some quick tips to start the year out right.

School-based mentoring brings community members into schools to provide additional support and friendship to students.As the new school year begins, thousands of experienced and new mentors are preparing to reconnect with their mentee or meet a new mentee.  Beginnings can bring feeling of  anxiousness and excitement for youth and mentors. Here are some tips from Michigan State University Extension to start the year out right.

  1. Play show and tell. Bring something to share to your first visit. A picture of a beloved pet, a postcard from a vacation or your favorite book from when you were younger will provide a conversation starter. Ask your mentee to bring something to the next visit.''
  2. Be consistent. Your mentee will look forward to your visits. These first visits are critical as you build trust and a routine. Make mentoring a priority and give notice and a reason if you have to cancel. Youth can take cancellatations personally, help him understand the cancellation isn’t because of him or her.
  3. Take it slow. Relationships take time to develop. Allow the relationship to develop naturally and save personal questions for future visits after you have developed a closer bond.
  4. Stay youth focused. Ask your mentee what they want to do or talk about. Mentors often feel the need to plan each visit, but it is better for the mentor and mentee to work together on choosing activities.If you need ideas, review this list of potential activities based on the time of year together and pick a few.
  5. Touch base with the match specialist or the teacher. Make sure you understand the boundaries and rules of the program. The match specialist will help you if you have difficulties and can share ideas for activities.
  6. Let go of your expectations. Mentors who come in with concrete goals may be disappointed. You will have a great impact on your mentee, but it is not always in the way you expect. Trust that spending time with and caring about a young person will make a difference.
  7. Have fun! Whether your program is focused on homework,lessons or recreation, find ways to make this a special and fun time of day.

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