A wonderful gift we can give to our mentees and to ourselves is having frequent acts of celebration – planned or spontaneous — in our mentor/mentee relationships. Celebrating can look many different ways to complement the stage of mentoring you and your mentee are currently experiencing. Celebration can be expressing thanks for what you share with one another, expressing pride in your friendship, and honoring the beginning, present and future. Integrating a celebratory atmosphere of joy and thanks strengthens your bond and allows your mentee to know that you are genuine and authentic. The following ideas for celebrating your relationship through the mentor phases were suggested through literature on best practice as well as generated by our own Seedling mentors: The Beginning: when you are getting to know each other. Create a ritual. A mentor can help anchor a child through changes large and small by establishing age-appropriate rituals for the mentoring sessions. At each session:
- Ask your mentee to thank his/her caregivers “for the care and love they are giving you” or “for allowing us to be friends.”
- Ask your mentee to share three good things about himself/herself.
- Share a hug, fist bump or high-five with your mentee when you say so long each week.
- Tell each other a joke and laugh together before you part ways,
- Create a secret handshake.
- Sing a song together.
- Share your sunshine and cloud with one another, or your rose and thorn.
Challenging and testing: Your mentee may act out or resist you, to see if you will stick around. Celebrating your relationship with your mentee can look like consistency at this phase.
- Being present week after week, no matter what your mentee does or how he/she acts.
- Looking for teachable moments and note the positive in him/her.
- Sharing your own feelings and experiences (when appropriate) to continue to strengthen the bond.
“Real” Mentoring: when the mentee really shares with you his “real” life. You understand one another, and your relationship has begun to feel less fragile and more comfortable. You see more and more signs of trust and can show them in return.
- Acknowledge the length of time you have been with your mentee. Celebrate your one year, or six month, or three-month anniversary in an agreed upon way. For example, bring your mentee’s favorite dessert just for that occasion.
- Listen to HIS/HER advice. Take your mentee’s suggestions and show them her input is important, too.
- Engage in an ongoing activity that interests your mentee, like writing, drawing, researching a special topic in-depth.
Coming to (mini) closure: saying “so long” for the summer. Coming to closure is a process, not a singular event. The end of the school year is a natural time to acknowledge and celebrate the journey you have taken this year with your mentee. You will not see the child for several months, so allow as much time as possible for the planning and managing the transition into the summer break in a positive way.
- Share your feelings about the match and about the summer break; encourage your mentee to share as well.
- Reminisce about things you have done during the year together.
- Create a project that helps you remember each other.
- Create a memory book
- Write a poem about your relationship
- Pick a song that characterizes your relationship
- Write a letter to your mentee and express positive and confident hopes for his/her future.
As you close for the year, create an expectation for the next year. Avoid making a promise that may not be kept. Tell your mentee that you are hopeful that the two of you will be together next year, but if it does not work out, that you treasure the time you have spent together. Did you know… that Seedling supports summer communication with your mentee through U.S. Mail? Let your Mentor Director know if you are interested, and we will explain how the process works in a way that protects both you and your mentee. –Seedling Mentor Program Staff