Mentors may struggle from time to time with conversation, meaningful interaction, or even sustained eye contact with their mentee. When mentoring is a challenge, remembering to use creativity and having a few simple activities to pull out of your pocket can help! We surveyed our Seedling School Contacts for their best advice on how you can be prepared for those visits that leave you feeling less than capable. Here are some ideas they shared.
Get them talking by starting each meeting with a check in.
This helps create consistency; they will know that you are going to ask so they start preparing for it.
- Sunshine and cloud
- Rose and thorn
- Ask “tell me the best part of your day so far”
Assemble a "tool kit" to keep in your car.
Our School Contacts know that sometimes the games in their office are not accessible. So be prepared for anything! Gather inexpensive items that can be found at the dollar store (or even from around your house) and keep them in your car. This can also be helpful for those mentors who find there is not enough time during the lunch period. Things such as;
Paper and markers/crayons • Playing cards • Card Games: Uno, Blink, Go Fish, Crazy 8’s • Dice • A journal to share two-way communication, each taking turns keeping it for a week and writing about your days to share when you see one another • Fidget toys, slinky, stress ball • Checkers • Legos
Change your environment.
- Make use of the library at your mentee’s school. Look for your favorite childhood/teen book and share it with your mentee. Ask them to share a book with you that interests them.
- Have your mentee give you a tour of the school as if you were in an art gallery. Talk about the student art displayed.
- Bring a basketball or football and play a game of catch or HORSE.
- Walk the school track while you talk.
If all you have is a pen and some paper.
- Use the paper for Origami (Origami books are often available in the school library. Many designs are also available online.)
- Kids love to play Tic-Tac-Toe or Dots.
- Draw Something. Take turns drawing and guessing what the other person has drawn. Time how long it takes you to guess each turn.
- Let your mentee have a chance to doodle while you talk.
- Play a game of paper football.
Use the board games as get-to-know-you games.
- Don’t Break the Ice – In this game, for every ice cube that is knocked out share an interesting fact about yourself.
- Jenga or Connect 4 – Come up with a list of questions to ask and answer for every turn that is taken.
Teach them your hobby.
- Do you crochet, knit, or build model airplanes? What activities did you enjoy when you were young? Your mentee would love to learn from you.
Middle and High School Mentees
- Search the internet for best templates for resume writing, job searches and how to fill out an application.
- Conduct a mock interview.
Remember, patience is paramount. Mentees can be slow to open up and feel comfortable with their mentor. Some other things to remember:
- Some mentees do not know their mentor’s name and feel embarrassed to ask after meeting for some time. Playing name games or reminding your mentee of your name will help.
- Some kids may seem to regress when they play, and choose toys suitable for a much younger child. This is normal, as they may not have been able to play when they were younger.
- You may be the only person who plays with them, please don’t feel like you are wasting time or not doing anything of value, you are!
- If your mentee is absent, write them a note to let them know you were there and give it to the school staff to deliver to them.
And as always, reach out to your Mentor Director if you have any questions or are struggling. We are here to help.