Five Ways You Can Be A Good Mentor for a Child
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Offer a different perspective.
Good mentors offer mentees a bigger view of the world and themselves, including what they can become. Often, mentoring focuses on teaching a specific skill that the child doesn’t have access to learning in their regular environment. Dan Isenberg, cultural arts director for the Boys & Girls Club in Northern Westchester, says his experience working with performers like Kanye West helps him find a common ground with kids looking for an outlet in music. “The kids I’m really close with, they don’t have an outlet for their interest. They don’t have anyone else to teach them or give them advice on music,” he explains. “I’m a guy who knows that world well, and they look up to me because of my experiences.”
Most of all, a mentor doesn’t need to be extraordinary in any way—just an individual willing to commit to spending time with a child who needs someone to talk to (and shop with) once in a while. Well, that’s pretty extraordinary.
Types of Mentoring
Traditional mentoring is a one-on-one relationship, sometimes called a Big/Little relationship, in which one mentor is matched with one child based on common interests. The pair meets regularly (usually once a week) over the course of a year or more. The relationship tends to be close and requires a serious commitment on both sides.
Other types of mentoring include:
Group Mentoring: One adult volunteer builds relationships with a number of young people. Meetings can take place with a focus on a particular project or an ongoing activity.
Team Mentoring: A group of two or more adults work together as a team to mentor a group of youths. This system often focuses on team building, leadership development, and community service.
Family Mentoring: Low-income families face enormous obstacles in getting basics like food and shelter. The stress can severely disrupt family life and lead to homelessness. These families can be matched with mentors (possibly another entire family) who work with them over an extended period of time to connect them to useful community resources, help them develop life skills, and strengthen their family relationships.
Being a Mentor is a Big Commitment, So Why Do It?
The Mentor Effect: Helping At-Risk and Underprivileged Kids