As school starts each fall, we see everywhere the symbolism of beginning and renewal. It’s no accident that the term “a clean slate”, referring to a schoolboy’s tablet for chalk writing, is so common in our vocabulary.
What does the arrival of September mean for a Seedling mentee?
For many, it means the return to a healthy and predictable routine, the guarantee of a regular breakfast and a hot lunch, re-connection with friends, and the surety of a mentor’s weekly visit. For most, it also means a new teacher (or several) and new expectations. For 30% or more of our mentees, it even means learning to navigate a new school because the family has moved or chosen a different school option, or because the student is undergoing the big change of entering middle school or high school.
How can a mentor help?
- Ask open-ended questions. Gathering detailed information can take a back seat to listening to your mentee’s feelings.
- Suggest and model simple gestures such as greeting the teacher and other adults at school. This act can help a child of any age feel more grounded in the environment as well as gather some positive attention.
- Adapt your mentoring to the child’s natural developmental growth. Is your young mentee still impulsive and wanting to take physical action to solve problems? Keep your sessions lively, and gently suggest alternatives.
- Is your mentee acquiring a sense of self, including past self and future self? Try activities like Your Life’s Timeline.
- Is your upper elementary mentee beginning to understand what s/he enjoys or is good at doing? Introduce some career exploration.
- Does your mentee have a growing sense of autonomy? Have a conversation at the
beginning of the year about what kinds of activities your visits should include.
- Your high-school mentee is probably ready to set specific goals for your mentoring
To review the general characteristics of phases of child development, follow these links (some downloads may refer only to AISD campuses, but they apply to all school districts with Seedling Mentors):
- Ages 5-7 (Grades K-2)
- Ages 8-10 (Grades 3-5)
- Ages 11-13 (Grades 6-8) (See also “Mentoring Tips” especially for the Middle School transition.)
- Ages 14-16 (Grades 9-11)
Keep in mind that these are general trends and traits. Your mentee may have had life experiences – or missed out on some – that cause his or her development to be slightly ahead or behind these descriptions.
Welcome back, and remember, your Seedling Mentor Director is there for you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, try to attend the support lunches through the year, and read your Mentor Minutes from Seedling. They are filled with practical suggestions and information to support your goal to be a great mentor.
Thank you for choosing to enter the life of a child.
~Seedling Mentor Program Staff