Making the Most of Spring Mentoring

Ending Strong by Remaining Curious

Listening Mentor“What we want to tell, we wish our friend to have curiosity to hear.”  Samuel Richardson

Three weeks in April and four in May; there are only seven more visiting opportunities before the school year concludes, and your communication with your mentee takes a summer break. With the end drawing near, your mentee could be experiencing a variety of positive and negative emotions, such as pressure to improve grades, excitement about end-of-year activities, anxiety about summer unknowns, and so on. Sometimes physical and emotional weariness – from the mentee or the mentor — can lead to those “dial-tone days” when visits feel flat and unrewarding. How can you keep your relationship progressing and satisfying for you both?

Dr. Julia Pryce tells us the key is mentor attunement, defined as the adult capacity to remain curious about a child. The idea of curiosity naturally makes us think of asking questions. While well-placed open-ended questions can play an important part, remaining curious refers more to creating safety and interest around what the mentee has to say. Dr. Pryce advises that we can improve our attunement through keeping these five skills in mind1:

  • Active listening – expressing interest or appreciation for the mentee’s sharing, repeating back what you heard, allowing the mentee to name the feeling (although sometimes you may need to help with the words), remaining compassionate and nonjudgmental, allowing the mentee time to think.

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Complicated Moments in Mentoring

Those complicated moments in mentoring…..Mentor puzzle piece

Have you experienced one yet?  If not, get ready…. at some point your mentee may just say something that causes you to wait, worry and wonder…… “What should I do?”

Those complicated moments in mentoring can sometimes create stress and worry, leaving even the most seasoned mentor to wonder, what should I do?

At last month’s Seedling Mentor Training, Mentor Directors challenged participants to consider some common mentoring dilemmas highlighted in The Mentor’s Field Guide” and engaged mentors in discussing how best to respond with authenticity and care.

Mentor Dilemma- My mentee and I come from different economic, cultural, racial, or ethnic backgrounds.  How can I honor and accommodate these differences? Continue reading

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When A Parent Comes Home

Child-Father“Do you believe a parent’s release from incarceration is more difficult for the parent or the child?”

Mentors who attended our January Seedling’s Promise Mentor Training were asked to consider and respond to this complex question which deeply affects our mentees.

The varying responses of the group led to a candid dialogue about the sobering challenges awaiting individuals released from prison.

Unless a loved one takes them in, basic needs such as housing, food, and employment are not readily accessible.  Continue reading

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Great Reasons to Say “Let’s Play”

Mentee playing with blocksEnjoying a game or entertaining activity with your mentee is a wonderful way to connect.  Not only that, but also…

~Play encourages communication
~Play is learning
~Play gives children a choice
~Play teaches patience and understanding
~Play can build confidence and competence
~Play is fun

Through “play” we learn about each other. As communication happens verbally, through facial expressions, laughter and body language, we become familiar with one another. We share our creativity, authenticity, and our sense of wonder. Trust is built through the balance, the give and-take, of a game completed. The relaxing nature of play can sometimes help a child share thoughts more freely.

Mentee playing chessFacilitating “play” also teaches valuable skills. Play can be a diversion for our mentees, giving them a reprieve from stress, thus practicing a healthy coping skill. Play can be a way to provide coaching through learning problem solving or memory skills while putting together a puzzle.

Through play, a mentor role-models authenticity, the sharing of self, and how to share an opinion. Other benefits include increased attention span, language development, and social skills.

Sometimes vintage games can be great choices.  Click here to review activities that, for example, have you and your mentee trotting the globe, getting to know each other better with a cootie-catcher, expressing yourselves through mod-podge and appreciating the art of War.

~Seedling’s Promise Staff

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One Mentor’s Story – Corrie MacLaggan and Javier

Seedling Mentor and MenteeCorrie met Javier when he was in 3rd grade, and he is a proud senior this year!

What is it like to mentor Javier and what changes have you seen over the years?

“I get to hang out with a really great kid, someone I’ve gotten to know well and care about in the past ten school years.”

“For years, I’d have lunch with Javier and we’d talk. When he was in elementary school, he wasn’t able to just sit and talk – totally normal for a kid, of course! – So we’d toss a ball or draw together while we chatted. Now, I pull him out of class during an elective period and we talk, while either sitting on a bench inside the school or walking around the school track”

“I’ve always talked to him a lot about college, my job as a journalist and my travels around the world. I wanted him to envision a lot of possibilities for his life. We have also talked extensively about his passions and goals. He has always been an amazing artist, so we’ve talked about art and he would show me his drawings. In high school, he has really excelled in JROTC, so we’ve talked about that and his desire to join the Army.”

What made you want to mentor a child? Continue reading

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