The importance of mentoring

by Marilyn Eisenberg — 

Mentoring, a sustained one-on-one relationship between a caring adult and a child who needs support to achieve academic, career, social and/or personal goals, offers unlimited learning potential for children.

Mentoring, a sustained one-on-one relationship between a caring adult and a child who needs support to achieve academic, career, social and/or personal goals, offers unlimited learning potential for children.

Mentoring, a sustained one-on-one relationship between a caring adult and a child who needs support to achieve academic, career, social and/or personal goals, offers unlimited learning potential for children. Unlike natural mentoring relationships which may develop between students (mentees) and teachers, coaches, older friends or relatives, planned mentoring offers structured programs with specific goals and objectives.

Educational mentoring focuses on improving students’ overall achievement. While these programs generally have specific school-related goals, (e.g., raising grades or improving attendance and class participation), mentors are not focused on tutoring or doing homework with students.

Rather, mentors spend time encouraging, talking to and building friendships with their mentees, hoping to boost academic performance indirectly by improving the students’ attitudes about school, elevating their personal goals, incentivizing them to attend classes and setting excellent examples.

With a goal of providing personal attention before poor study habits or negative behavior are established and become potentially destructive, mentoring programs target myriad children.

Among these are gifted students, those experiencing language difficulties, students from single-parent and/or low-income homes, and students with low self-esteem, limited social skills or behavioral problems. These programs also target low-performance students or those requiring academic assistance in subjects like reading or math and students needing encouragement to apply to middle-school, high-school, college. For that matter, mentoring works for any child with unmet needs.

These one-on-one relationships benefit mentors by providing friendships with children, the satisfaction of having contributed to the community and opportunities to enhance personal strengths while developing new skills.

Mentoring benefits schools by helping lower dropout rates and providing opportunities for partnerships with city, business, and community institutions and organizations.

Mentoring improves a school’s image while increasing community support and involvement. Mentors are school advocates. As a result, the community is more aware of students’ and teachers’ challenges, as well as the school’s accomplishments and achievements.

 

Marilyn Eisenberg, MFA, is director of public relations and marketing for The Sonoran Science Academy, 4837 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85009. 602-244-9855.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 3, June/July 2005.

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