Who wouldn’t be happy about having no homework, sleeping a little later, and playing outside in the sunshine? But summer may include some other differences for your mentee. You might be surprised by some issues that could result in subtle signs of anxiety in your next few visits.
For many children, school represents a place of predictability and physical and emotional
safety, feelings that may be diminished or absent in the three months of summer. How
can a mentor help?
A good open-ended question such as “What do you think your summer will be like?” can
open the door. Use your best active listening skills to watch for small changes in
tone, facial expression or body language, and invite your mentee to talk about feelings.
Other questions might be:
How will you spend your time away from school this summer?
Who will you be with? (How old is your cousin?)
Is there any part of the summer that you are really looking forward to?
Is there any part of the summer that you’re worried about?
Who do you talk to in the summer when something is bothering you?
What do you usually do about lunch in the summer? **See below.
Talk about qualities in friends who are “good” and friends who are “not so
good”. This conversation may also be an opportunity for personal sharing. For example,
you can let your mentee know the tricks and self-talk you use when faced with
inadequate personal space or with inevitable boredom.
Here is an article about end-of-year gifts and activities that may help. And last, if your
mentee describes glorious summer plans that make you doubtful, avoid asking for details that can require a child to continue making up facts. Instead, ask open-ended questions that allow the child to explore the would-be adventure, such as “I wonder…what do you suppose that would be like – to visit Disney World?”
Note to Austin Area Mentors
**Summer Food Service Program Hunger does not take a summer vacation, and for kids who rely on free or reduced price school lunches for their main meal of the day, summer can be a hardship. Monday through Friday, children 18 and under are welcome to enjoy nutritious lunches at any of the Capital Area Food Bank’s federally funded Summer Food Service Program sites. No registration or identification is needed.
At press time, the listing of summer food program sites and maps of locations was not
yet available for 2014. For updates, visit http://www.austinfoodbank.org/sfsp or inquire in
the school office.
Thank you for mentoring. Thank you for making a difference in the life of a child.
~Seedling Mentor Program Staff