Mentors to young people often play a role in motivating students to do their best in school. Mentoring can improve mentees' attitudes toward school achievement and bolster their belief in their academic ability, according to youth development experts Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick.
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Manza and Patrick, authors of The Mentor's Field Guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed, write, "Your belief in your mentees and your encouragement can help them to be more willing to make the effort to do well." Mentoring can also increase mentees' aspiration for their future, and when they have goals they would like to achieve, they are more likely to appreciate the role education plays in attaining them.
The following tips, offered by Manza and Patrick, can help mentees see that working hard in school has many benefits:
- Be specific when talking about school success: turn in assignments on time, actively participate in class, ask for help when needed.
- Ask what books your mentee is reading; you may have read some of the same books when you were young.
- Help your mentee engage in problem solving about issues that arise at school.
- Provide specific help with schoolwork, making sure that you stay in the role as "guide," not "doer."
- If your mentee claims to not care about school, find out why. Does she believe she isn't smart enough to do well? Does he think he can't afford college?
Keep in mind that academic-related encouragement should not come at the expense of the relationship you are striving to develop with a mentee. Deciding how to help your mentee academically and how involved to get will depend on the wishes of parents, suggestions from teachers, and direction from your mentoring program.