According to MENTOR, a national mentoring partnership initiative, a mentorship is a structured and trusted relationship between a caring adult and a child. There are about 17 million children in America who live in at-risk situations that deter them from living to their true potential, according to MENTOR, and mentors across the nation are developing relationships with youth that empower these children to succeed. Typically, mentors are volunteers at schools or youth organizations, and although they may not receive a paycheck, mentors still have a lot of responsibility.
Responsibilities and Roles
The primary role of a youth mentor is to develop a personal and positive rapport with a child, and this involves consistent meetings with the child and ensuring the meeting times are enjoyable and comfortable. Additionally, mentors should work with the youths to establish goals. Examples of goals could be making good grades or attending college. Mentors should assist children in creating life action plans, such as a goal time line. Another responsibility for mentors is that they act as a cheerleader, coach and advocate for children, according to MENTOR, and mentors should even provide children with resources in the community.
To qualify for most youth mentoring positions, whether is be voluntary or paid, mentors must enjoy working with children, and they must also have a passion for advocating the success of youth. Qualified mentors are responsible, committed, and they also are good listeners. Many organizations require that mentors have experience working with children and that mentors must pass a criminal background investigation. Also, mentors typically need to have flexibility in their time to be able to meet with children on a weekly and consistent basis.
Length of Commitment
Mentorships are not typically a week- or month-long commitment. Instead, mentors should commit to a long-term relationship. Effective mentors maintain a relationship with a child over a course of at least one year, such as a school year, or even longer is possible. Many children thrive on consistency and routine, and the longer someone invests in them, the greater chance children will succeed. According to MENTOR, children who meet with mentors regularly have a greater chance of performing well academically, socially and they face a slimmer chance of abusing drugs or alcohol.
Although skill requirements vary depending on the organization or school, mentors need to be motivated and self-assured. Effective mentors have good communication skills, and they also have good listening skills. Other skills that mentors have include good supervisory abilities, a professional demeanor and a polished appearance.
Qualities of a Good Mentor
According to MENTOR, an effective mentor is a good listener, trustworthy, caring, responsible and positive. Mentors should provide youth with outlets for new opportunities and challenges, and they should inspire children to achieve goals and dreams. Good mentors invest in children's lives by not only consistently spending time with them, but also helping youth set up action plans to meet personal and long-term career goals.
- children image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com