In an effort to promote mentoring across the nation, the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership joined forces to create National Mentoring Month (NMM) in 2002. The month-long event raises awareness about mentoring and encourages students and professionals to get involved in their communities.
As a young writer, I was plagued by the difficulty of wrangling run-on sentences into orderly paragraphs. I was certain I was going to face a lifetime of being overly verbose. My fifth grade teacher took time after-school each day to help me learn how to master my language use. Her interest and support inspired me to pursue writing on a deeper level. By entering into mentoring relationships such as this, youth around the world are encouraged to overcome obstacles and reach for their dreams.
Mentoring has a positive effect on children and the community. Research shows that effective or quality mentoring can:
- Help encourage students to stay in school
- Aide students in avoiding drug use and delinquency
- Improve self-esteem
- Develop career, social, and life skills
Being a Mentor
Becoming a mentor doesn’t require special skills; mentors simply need an openness to listen and offer friendship, guidance and encouragement to a young person. Mentors say that the experience is rewarding and inspiring.
You can get involved in supporting youth through:
- The community
- The faith-based community
- The Internet (make sure to check the validity of the organization or site)
Ways to Celebrate National Mentoring Month
There are many fun and interesting ways to explore and participate in National Mentoring Month.
- Become a club or event leader: mentor students as they engage in an activity such as photography, chess, book clubs, writing groups, scientific exploration and more.
- Create a tribute to a mentor from your life by using poetry, sculpture, or multimedia.
- Join a community organization’s mentoring efforts: you and/or your class could donate time or materials to a local mentoring program such as the YMCA.
- Create, share, and view National Mentoring Day (January 26th) videos on YouTube.
- Learn more about mentoring by checking out the National Mentoring Month website.
Fostering Mentoring Skills in Students
In working with youth, we have the unique opportunity to inspire students to become future mentors. My students always enjoyed taking part in buddy class activities. These experiences gave my students the chance to develop leadership skills, share expertise, and feel empowered by supporting and giving back to younger students.
When a buddy-class relationship is not possible, students can still become mentors through activities such as:
- Organizing and running a book drive.
- Reading stories to children in hospital care.
- Creating brochures or posters for distribution to other classrooms on topics such as careers, community service, and drug use prevention
Many organizations and educators have created memorable and engaging lessons that integrate mentoring into the classroom curriculum. The following lessons incorporate a variety of ideas that can be easily implemented.
Through taking part in a visualization students create a personally meaningful definition for mentoring while explaining traits of an effective mentor. They use their definition to inform their explanation of how to be a good book buddy. This lesson is linked to a unit full of additional activities and materials to get the most out of book buddy time.
High school is a great time for students to explore careers and have ongoing discussions with professionals in the field of their choice. This lesson lays out a step-by-step guide for connecting students with mentors using the Internet, iChat, and an iSight camera. While it explains the technical aspects in detail it does not include many resources for choosing the mentors themselves. The National Mentoring Month website network and professional colleagues and contacts are both excellent places to begin when choosing a speaker (online or otherwise) for your class.
This lesson helps students learn the importance of mentoring a younger teen. They will have the opportunity to think about the questions provided, and will also answer some questions on their own. There is also a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. that talks of service to others, and you will have a chance to read the quote and discuss as a class.