How to Help a Child Who is LD (Learns Differently)

How to Help a Child Who is LD (Learns Differently)Schools often assign students to learning groups. It doesn’t take kids long to figure out who belongs to which group. Like them, I understood who belonged to the butterfly group when I was a child (the smart kids) – and those who were caterpillars (kids who weren’t smart – like me).

Children often use these assumptions to define themselves.

I have a condition called amblyopia or “lazy eyes.” When I open a book, the letters on the pages overlap. It’s as if the pages were printed on clear sheets of plastic and placed on top of one another. I can read the words – it just takes me a little longer. 

I didn’t want to be a “stupid” caterpillar when I was a child. I wanted to be a butterfly. I wanted to go to college. I worked at as many jobs I could find so I could attend a university.

I liked hanging out with smart butterflies at college. Until I took a required reading exam in my freshman rhetorical writing class.  My professor pulled me aside after class one day and explained the test results showed I had the reading comprehension skills of a sixth grader. She wanted to know how long it took me to read a test.

“I have a learning disability,” I mumbled. “I’m LD.”

“Do you have any idea how smart you are?” she asked. “‘LD means ‘learns differently.’ Many students with learning disabilities have average to above average intelligence.  Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein learned differently, too. And so do you.”

Words have power.

I was so inspired by her words that I felt a responsibility to pay it forward. I became a teacher. I delivered a TED talk to inspire others who learn differently. 

 

 

Approximately five percent of students (and adults) are diagnosed with learning disabilities. Many more people unnecessarily struggle at work and in schools, but never receive a formal diagnosis.

There are many things you can do to encourage a child who learns differently. These tips help all children improve their organizational skills and boost homework success:

  1. Get organized.  Require your child to empty the backpack as soon as they get home from school and put notes from teachers and schools in a designated tray. Store all books, paper, pencils, and school supplies at a desk or special place created for learning and homework.
  2. Involve your child in the creation of a study space.  Add positive posters or decorate the space with your child’s favorite cartoon characters and heroes to make it a fun place to be! Use color to brighten the space and to color-code a system of organization for each subject (i.e.: notebooks, folders, files for homework, etc.). 
  3. Understand everyone learns differently.  Some children need quiet; others need noise (music, etc.) to concentrate. Some children review material by repeating the information out loud; some use flash cards. Many instruments such as the VARK Questionnaire define visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/physical learning styles. Use tools and provide an environment for your child that compliments his or her learning style.
  4. Make a schedule.  Help your child learn how to effectively budget their time. Assign a start time for completing homework. Organize time into manageable chunks. Design a calendar and post due dates for assignments.
  5. Record assignments.  Use an assignment notebook or an online app (such as MyHomework) to record all homework and projects.
  6. Use Online Tools.  ADDitude (Inside the ADHD Mind) suggests eight useful homework and study apps. Free apps such as 30/30 and Stay On Task will help your child organize time. StudyBlue offers tools to create flashcards and many different learning resources.
  7. Check Your Child’s Homework.  Review completed assignments with your child. Check for errors before your child gives his or her homework assignment to their teacher. 
  8. Talk to Your Child’s Teachers.  Discuss your child’s learning style and strengths with his or her teacher. Inquire how you can support learning at home. Request testing if you believe it is necessary. Ask your child’s teacher about helpful learning resources. Students experience greater success when their teachers and parents work together as a team.

You may want to enlist the help of a tutor to help your child experience specific subject-level success. Free tutoring may be available in your child’s school or in local programs. Libraries often offer tutoring services at no charge.

When I was in middle school, I was grouped with students who used the same math book for three years. I never learned how to successfully do algebra until I was an adult. I used free online tools at Khan Academy to learn how to do basic algebra.

You can learn how to do almost anything through online resources and videos available on Lynda.com and Udemy. Libraries often offer free links to these services.

Remember: You are not alone. LD Online offers outstanding information and many different tools for parents and primary caregivers. They offer Home-To-School Connections with effective resources, helpful articles, and a list of recommended books. They provide links to support groups and host a discussion forum.

As a parent, primary caregiver, or mentor, you are your child’s primary teacher.  Show your child how reading can be fun. Visit the library and book stores. Read to your child. Point out words on billboards and traffic signs as you drive. Discuss product labels when you shop. Play word and number games. Children are more likely to enjoy reading and writing when they see their role models reading and writing.How to Help a Child Who is LD (Learns Differently)

Most importantly, we must remind children they possess amazing gifts and talents. Create positive affirmations to boost their self-esteem. Be a role model of a positive attitude. Ask them to share their ideas and listen to their opinions.

All children begin life as caterpillars. Sometimes they forget they have wings and have the capacity to fly.

Your words are often mirrors children use to see themselves. Let’s work together to ensure they see their best selves.

In what ways can you inspire a child to see their own light?

 

Try some of these Fun Reading Tips Your Child Will Love.

Deepen your relationship with a special child in conversations with questions from A Survey for Adults and Children They Love.

Use these suggestions from How to Be a Good Role Model to start or deepen your relationship with a child or teen.

Hear the Voices of Our Youth describes tips to invite dialogue with young people.

 
 

read more

A Survey for Adults and Children They Love

A Survey for Adults and Children They LoveMalala Yousafzai, human rights and education activist, said, “Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” When Malala was 17 years old, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel peace prize.

Words have power. So do questions.

Steffane Wells is a teacher. One day, she asked her daughter, Lucy, the following questions that have been circulating in various forms on Facebook since 2015.  Her daughter delivered blunt, razor-sharp answers.

How would a child you love respond to these questions?

  1. What is something mom always says to you?  NO!
  2. What makes mom happy?  Childrens leaving you alone
  3. What makes mom sad?   When kids don’t leave you alone, but I just want to play on the computer!
  4. How does your mom make you laugh?  Make funny faces
  5. What was your mom like as a child?  The same as me
  6. How old is your mom?  32
  7. How tall is your mom?  You are super big, you’re big.
  8. What is her favorite thing to do?  Sleeping
  9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?  You go to sleep.
  10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?  Singing, dancing, um – a rockstar!
  11. What is your mom really good at?  You are really good at cartwheels a long time ago. You were really good. You are also really good at exercising. That’s all I know. Please mommy, please mommy, please can I play on the computer?
  12. What is your mom not very good at?  You’re not very good at yelling, working (hahahaha!). You’re not very good at video games.
  13. What does your mom do for a job?  You do for a job you work at Southwood Middle School. Is that right?
  14. What is your mom’s favorite food?  Salad. You love salad!
  15. What makes you proud of your mom?  Mostly what makes you proud of me is being nice to me.
  16. If your mom were a character, who would she be?  You would be Sofia. No, you would be, no, ummm, Ariel. No, you would be Sofia … Sofia … NO! You would be Belle, Momma.
  17. What do you and your mom do together?  Watch movies. We do games. We go outside and play.
  18. How are you and your mom the same?  Because we both have blond hair with pink and purple and a little bit of brown in our hair. We both like purple. Right? I like purple. You like purple.
  19. How are you and your mom different?  Um, you like just purple and I like a lot of colors. You work a lot and I play a lot.
  20. How do you know your mom loves you?  It’s because I was adorable when I was a baby. Can I please play on the computer?
  21. What does your mom like most about your dad?  He’s handsome.
  22. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?  Taco Bell? I don’t know where you like to go. Where do you like to go?
  23. How old was your Mom when you were born?  You were 40 … no, you were, uh … how old are you?  You were 31. You were 31. Were you? How old were you? I think you were … does 50 go after 30?

I asked Steffane, “How old is your daughter?”

“Lucy is 5 1/2. (Don’t forget the half. She is very particular about that 1/2),” proudly laughed Steffane. “She is the most honest child I have ever met. She’ll answer anything. She’ s a lot like me when I was young.”

Jesus once said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these” (Mark 10: 14). I believe children and their innocent, refreshingly perceptive view of the world reveals ways we can experience a little slice of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

If you would like to learn more about your child’s unique point of view, start a conversation using some (or all!) of the questions listed above. You can replace the word “mom” with “dad” or your name – or someone else’s name.

These questions are particularly memorable as:

  • a Mother’s or Father’s day gift.
  • a birthday present for a special adult.
  • a keepsake.
  • a reflection about someone who passed away from a child’s point of view.
Questions lead to conversations with your child that open a window into thoughts rolling around in that powerful little mind.
 
How do you think a child you love will respond to questions about you and the relationship you share?
 
 
Reading is an activity that increases your child’s vocabulary and deepens your relationship. Find Fun Reading Tips Your Child Will Love.
 
Have you ever wondered What Color Is God?  When children discuss spiritual questions, adults should listen to their responses.

Read powerful storytelling experiences from urban junior high students in Voices in the City School.

Kids are talking. Are you listening? Start a conversation with a child or teen with more tips from Hear the Voices of Our Youth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” Remember How to Play and Have Fun with these suggestions.

 

read more

9 Great Reasons to Love Millennials

9 Great Reasons to Love Millennials“We’re the generation everyone loves to hate, amirite?” writes Paige Stanard, journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “With our ‘stupid iPhones’ and our apps and our selfies and our social networks and our ‘narcissism,’ we’re labeled as the least patriotic generation, as racists, as the least informed generation and many more stereotypes. However, I believe us to be the most patriotic generation, the least racist, the most accepting, and the most informed generation (because of our stupid social media and apps).”

Take that, anyone who is not a Millennial.

Millennials (or Generation Y or the Net Generation) are the young men and women who matured into adulthood at the beginning of the 21st century. They are the children of the Baby Boomers or Generation X. Millennials were born between 1980-2000.

“We get used to hearing things about our generation such as ‘They act so entitled’ or ‘All they want to do is play on Facebook or Instagram,'” Paige explains.

Millennials were born at a time when parents wanted to provide their children with structure and protection to keep them safe. Their parents embraced family values and devoted more time and attention to rearing their children. 

Academic achievement was a hot topic of debate when Millennials were old enough to attend school. Their parents demanded proof from schools that showed instructional excellence. The No Child Left Behind Act (2001) required increased academic testing; educators used assessment results to drive instruction and provide evidence of learning mastery. Politicians showcased their efforts to address issues that impacted the lives of children and teens. 

More Millennials choose to live at home after they graduate from high school or college than previous generations. And, in many circumstances, their parents enjoy having their presence at home.

Although Millennials are often labeled as a generation reared to develop a sense entitlement, a Pew report revealed that 49 percent of Millennials consider themselves to be members of the lower- or lower-middle class. Home mortgage debt was replaced by burdens of large college debts. Although their generation is misunderstood and criticized, they remain brazenly optimistic – even though they are generally less economically successful than their parents’ generation.

Paige Stanard provides a list of some of the many reasons to love Millennials:

  1. We are accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. We’re really just overall more accepting of all kinds of people, no matter what color their skin is, how they dress or what religion they are.
  2. We are an effortlessly tech-savvy generation of “Lord of the Ring” nerds, software engineers and gamers. Being intelligent and geeky is cool.
  3. We care about helping others, whether that is going on mission trips, joining the Peace Corps or taking volunteer vacations. Because we’re so exposed to the hurt in the world through our social media and the Internet, I think our generation more than others has a true heart for doing good.
  4. We love to learn and have intellectual discussions about everything from Syria to Star Wars. We aren’t afraid to chase our dreams, start our own companies, or even quit our tedious day jobs for lesser-paying ones that (gasp!) make us happy.
  5. We’re less concerned with conventional success and monetary restraints and more concerned with finding enjoyment and fulfillment with our careers. Why this is considered a negative trait, I don’t know.
  6. We’re quick learners and highly adaptable when it comes to our careers. Oh, there’s a new social media site? We’re on it.
  7. We’re more conservationally-minded — recycling, eating organic, re-purposing or riding bikes instead of driving cars — the list goes on.
  8. We’ve thrown out old-fashioned, sexist dating norms and gender roles. And in doing so, we’ve freed ourselves from the old-fashioned ideals of marriage and family to create our own love-filled relationships.
  9. Are we cheap? If that means being penny-pinchers by thrift store shopping and DIYing instead of going into debt like our parents by buying fancy new cars and extravagant houses, then yes. We are thrifty.

Margaret Rouse, writer and director of WhatIs.com, reports Millennials have the least faith in U.S. institutions. They also show the highest support of political independents and protestor-formed governments. She adds, “Although Millennials have less faith in religious institutions, at the same time the numbers have also risen for those who have absolute faith in the existence of God.”

Rouse explains the words and actions of many church representatives clash with the Millennial ideal of tolerance for religious, racial, gender, sexual orientation differences. They are concerned about social justice and refuse to support institutions with values and messages that conflict with social and economic equality. 

Twenty percent of Millennials have at least one immigrant parent. “As the most ethnically diverse generation, Millennials tend to be tolerant of multicultural and socioeconomic differences.” explains Neil Howe, contributing writer to Forbes. “Millennials grew up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially-networked world.”

Many people look at Millennials and assume, because their busily engaged with technology, that they are tuned-in to their techno-devices and turned-off by everything going on around them. Although mobile devices offer detours and provide users with a means of escape, many older adults often incorrectly assume Millennials are more interested in connections with their cell phones than in personal face-to-face conversations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Millennials are starving for opportunities to build relationships – with older adults and with one another.

Technology will continue to impact the lives of future generations, our communities, and our planet.  The Centre for Research, Innovation and Future Development at St. Paul’s School, Australia, created a powerful video, Did You Know That in 2028?  It statistically illustrates the changing landscape of technology and its impact on our lives as a global community.

 

 

Millennials are students of 21st century education; they attended schools at a time when technology became important learning tools in classrooms. Furthermore, when their computers or devices don’t function properly, the techno-savvy Millennials often know how to troubleshoot and solve problems with little assistance.

“So, maybe, Millennials aren’t so bad, after all,” concludes Ms. Stanard. “And perhaps, we are exactly what this country needs right now. I mean, after all, the future of this country rests in our hands.”

The Millennials – and the next generations of young adults – are more than the future. They are our present with gifts, talents, and insights that are collectively valuable to all of us.  We must do more than tell young adults that we value their gifts. We must invite them into full participation within our organizations, churches, and work places. We must involve them. We must honor their leadership gifts. We must ask for their input. We must start conversations with them. We must listen

As we evolve into a global community, our Millennials need previous generations to be strong role models and mentors. Future generations will look to the Millennials to light the way for others.

What can you do to more fully understand and connect with Millennials?

 

Are young people tuned in or turned off by conversations with folks from older generations? Read Teens & Technology: Tuned In or Turned Off?

Encourage Millennials to explore their passions. Discover 7 Reasons Why You Need a Dream.

Use these suggestions explore What’s Your Dream? and create a strong vision, mission, and goals.

Use these suggestions from How to Be a Good Role Model to pump up the example you want be to inspire Millennials.

 

Disclaimer:  This site contains affiliate links to products.  I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.  I only promote products I use and highly recommend.  My full disclosure is here.

 

read more

How to Build a Collaborative Youth Leadership Team

"How to Build a Collaborative Youth Leadership Team"“Effective leadership is putting first things first,” insisted Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “What you do has far greater impact than what you say.”

About 20 years ago, a group of teachers, youth ministers, coaches, and I wanted to empower teens with collaborative leadership skills. There were different models that provided teens with leadership training, but we lacked a model that equipped organizations with sustainable tools that allowed teens to use their leadership skills. 

I was on a mission to figure out how to empower adults with tools they needed to encourage youth to be leaders without controlling or blocking their efforts.

Our leadership team hosted an annual leadership institute for teens. We invited youth throughout the Midwest to learn leadership tools and practice the skills in small group settings. Throughout the course of the week, teens learned how to:

Though I presented sessions on communication skills during the week-long training, my primary role was to be a mentor to a small group of teens. The youth teams used collaborative skills of planning and consensus to make decisions to complete leadership projects.

The roles of the small group mentors were less well-defined. We were instructed not to interfere with youth team planning. We were to be encouraging chaperones. Whenever I chimed in to ask a question during the teens’ discussions, they snapped, “It’s our role to do the planning.”

And they were right. Their role was to plan. My role as an adult mentor? I wasn’t so sure.

If adults do not have clearly defined roles when working with youth leadership teams, they will define the roles for themselves. Some adults become dictators; forcing their own agenda throughout the youth planning process. Some adults are primarily concerned about being their friends; often causing more disruptive discipline problems than the kids. It is not the fault of the adults when they try to control or entertain teens – it’s a program issue that lacks clear role definition for participating adults.

One day, I figured out my role with the youth leadership team while they argued about a project decision. Three of the teens shouted at one another as they defended their opinions about the direction of the project. The others shut down and refused to participate in the discussion.

“Let’s go back to our group norms,” I said. “What can we do to think win-win?”

“No disrespect intended, Julie, but you’re not supposed to tell us what to do,” interrupted Elizabeth. “It’s our job to plan.”

“They told us you’re not supposed to talk because you’re not a member of our group,” Andy added.

I decided it was time to add a rule of my own to the small group planning process.

“All of us in this room have very important roles on this leadership team,” I answered. “Your role is to plan.”

“Yes!” they agreed. “Our role is to plan.”

“I am a member of our leadership team, too, but my role is different,” I continued. “Your role is to plan. My role is to ensure we use the tools of consensus and I will call you on it every time.”

The room got very quiet. Then it exploded with new energy.

Their roles were clear. My role was clear. I wasn’t the dictator. There was no need for me to withdraw from the planning. I didn’t try to be their friend. I was their adult mentor. In this role, the teens felt comfortable to focus on planning. They became more committed to their norms and agreements to use their communication tools. They knew I would draw them back to the consensus planning process – not by interrupting their planning, but by asking questions that were firmly rooted in Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens:

  • What can we do to be proactive?  How do we take responsibility for our actions? How do we make choices based on principles and values? How do we create an inside-out approach to change something and make it better?
  • How can we begin with the end in mind?  What is our vision? What is our mission? How are our goals aligned with our vision and mission? Do we have a clear purpose? How are we physically, emotionally, and mentally prepared to begin with the end in mind?
  • What must we do to put first things first?  Stephen Covey believed, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” What are our most important priorities? What must we do to organize and execute our plans? What tasks must we complete to reach our goals?
  • In what ways can we think win-win?  How can we change our thoughts and behaviors in ways that reflect mutual respect for one another? How can we resolve conflict in ways that allow everyone to feel heard and part of the solution? How will we come to consensus? 
  • How do we seek first to understand, then to be understood?  How can we be better listeners? What must we do to focus on what is being said (rather than planning our next response)? What questions should we ask to understand one another more fully? How can we respond with kindness when we don’t agree with someone else’s opinion?
  • How can we synergize?  When we work to come to consensus, we try to find a solution that benefits everyone. How can we recognize each other’s individual strengths? What can we do to strengthen cooperation and teamwork? How can we find creative solutions as a team?
  • What must we do to sharpen our saws?  Do we remember to take care of ourselves? Do we care for our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health? Do we celebrate our successes as a team? Do we make time to have fun?

Most of the teens on our senior high planning team were not the most popular teens at their schools. Unlike many high school councils and honors, the teens did not vote on members to represent them on our planning team. I selected the members of our first youth team because each one of them possessed different leadership skills. They were grateful I recognized their leadership potential.

Elizabeth understood how to rally a team into action. Terrill was a wonderful listener. James had an innate ability to sum up important highlights of a conversation. Katie kept us on task. Andy was a tremendous small group facilitator. Our leadership team needed the gifts of every member to be a strong collective whole.

In the years that followed, the teens acknowledged and celebrated leadership gifts in one another. They created projects and committees that invited all teens in our community to share their individual leadership gifts. They became members of the youth leadership training team. Our leadership training processes became a model many schools, churches, and community organizations wanted to emulate.

It is exciting when teens empowered with leadership skills are invited to represent their peers on church, school, and community leadership teams with adults. However, young leaders often ask me, “How come we have to follow the rules of consensus and collaboration and the adults don’t have to?”

“Because you have leadership skills and training,” I answered. “Now, go and be role models.”

Collaborative leadership, at its best, empowers all participants to use their personal gifts in ways that benefit the entire group. A collaborative leader asks insightful questions, listens, and invites members of the group to be part of mutual decisions. A collaborative leader is a torch with a vision who lights the way for others.

“A leader is someone who has insight or unique skills that allow him to guide others to reach a collec"How to Build a Collaborative Teen Leadership Team"tive goal,” explains Samhita Roy, a high school graduate from Princeton, New Jersey. “Leading is not managing, supervising, or an objective. Rather, it’s the demonstration of qualities that allow leaders to bring clarity and insight, which open new approaches for the group to follow.”

When we demonstrate respect for our youth through our words, actions, and leadership skills; when we invite them into full involvement within our communities, they will come – and they will stay. And they will bring their friends. Their friends will bring their parents and curious adults. That’s how organizations grow. 

That’s how youth leaders become community leaders, national heroes, and role models.

P.S.  Elizabeth is now Director of Youth & Adult Formation at a church. Andy is a special education teacher. Now they’re preparing the next generation of youth leaders.  

How can you inspire leadership in others?

 

Try these 10 Tips to Mentor Like a Superstar if you want to build a relationship with a teen who needs you.

These suggestions explain What You Must Do to Invite & Involve Youth (So They Want to Stay) in your organization.

Learn How to Be a Good Role Model with these tips.

Discover Why We Must Talk to Young People about Their Dreams.

Use these suggestions explore What’s Your Dream? and create a strong vision, mission, and goals.

 

read more

10 Tips to Mentor Youth Like a Superstar

10 Tips to Mentor Like a Superstar

Teens are starving for attention from an adult who believes in them.

A  teen who doesn’t have a healthy relationship with an adult often lacks confidence. They are less likely to develop communication and social skills needed to establish strong personal boundaries because no one is available to be a role model. They have no one to turn to for guidance when they’re suffering and need to talk.

Teens who lack the presence of a significant adult in their lives are targeted for bullying more often than peers who have strong adult support. Many teens find support they crave through participation in gangs. They are 80 percent more likely to struggle with depression and six times more likely to attempt suicide (NCBI, 2013). 

The good news is this: Our kids don’t have to drown in silent desperation. Youth motivational speaker, Josh Shipp, believes, “Every kid is ONE caring adult away from being a success story.” A mentor is a torch who helps kids see into their futures. Mentoring offers emotional support, guidance, and encouragement for lonely youth. 

A mentor is a torch who helps kids see into their futures. - Julie Connor, Ed.D.Click To Tweet

Youth mentoring is a process of matching young people with a caring adult. Adult mentors are usually unrelated to the child or teen and work as volunteers through community-, school-, or church-based programs.

Training is essential to the mentor preparation process. Not every volunteer possesses the qualities, emotional stability, or skills to be a mentor. The most successful mentoring programs interview potential mentors and offer mentor training. They consistently check in with mentors and mentees to monitor progress and track feedback.

The Effective Strategies for Providing Quality Youth Mentoring in Schools and Communities series provide mentoring program coordinators and mentors with tools to build quality mentoring programs. They outlined 10 tips for adults who want to be successful youth mentors:

  1. Build relationships grounded in trust. Many teens without mature role models are suspicious of adults. Do not try to become your mentee’s best friend or substitute parent. Mentors are positive role models who invite open communication and mutual respect.
  2. Create realistic goals and expectations. Do not expect your mentee to confide in you right away. Ask questions; get to know your mentee. As your relationship grows, your mentee will feel more comfortable sharing his or her life with you. 
  3. Have fun together. Find out what kind of activities your mentee enjoys. Go bowling or watch a good movie. Shoot some hoops. Play miniature golf. Walk through a mall or grab a snack at a food bar. You need not spend a lot of money to build a strong mentor/mentee relationship; what’s most valuable is your investment of time. Need more ideas? Try one of these suggestions from 100 Ideas to Use When Mentoring Youth.
  4. Discuss decisions about activities with your mentee. Some teens may be shy to suggest ideas because they don’t want to appear rude or needy. Others are content to let you make the decisions, especially in the beginning stages of your relationship. When you ask your mentee for input, this shows you value his or her ideas.
  5. Allow your mentee to reveal personal information when they are ready. Give your mentee permission to reveal how much (or how little) information they wish to share with you. Remind them that they can share with you without fear of judgement.
  6. Listen. When you ask questions and listen, you give mentees permission to share their stories and personal experiences without criticism. Ask one of these questions if you are not sure how to launch a conversation with your mentee.
  7. If a mentee asks for advice, focus on solutions. Allow your mentee time to release uncomfortable emotions if they need to vent, but encourage him or her to consider their options. When they focus less on what they can’t control and shift their attention to those areas within their control: including their own thoughts, feelings, decisions, and actions, they reclaim their personal power. Don’t get stuck in the problem; consider solutions. 
  8. Be positive. Briefly share your own experiences to demonstrate empathy, but your time together is not about you – it’s about your mentee. Do not bog down your time or monopolize conversations with stories about your struggles when you were growing up. If your mentee feels “stuck,” remind him or her they can change their perspective by changing their thoughts.
  9. Your primary relationship is with your mentee, not their parents or family members. Do not try to act as an intermediary between your mentee and family. Resist efforts as a mentor to be drawn into parental or familial issues. Discuss matters of concern with your program director.
  10. It is your responsibility to set a good example as a mentor. Your mentee will lose trust in you if you can’t be depended upon to honor your commitments. Decide upon consistent times to talk or meet with your mentee. Show up on time. Your lack of commitment can be devastating for the young person you offered to support. If you are unsure about the time or emotional commitment you have to share with a child or teen, do not volunteer to be a mentor until you are confident you can fulfill the responsibilities.

“Whoever it may be, you have the power to make a positive and significant difference in their lives,” insists Josh Shipp. “Do for ONE kid what you wish you could do for ALL kids.”

These are Josh’s suggestions for effective mentoring.

Step 1:  Find out what they’re into.

Step 2: Spend time doing what matters to them because they matter to you.

Step 3: Your investment of time will lead to influential conversations

"10 Tips to Mentor Youth Like a Superstar"The following organizations offer outstanding mentoring resources:

The presence or absence of a consistent, caring adult in a young person’s life often determines whether they thrive or drop out of school; whether they dream and believe in their unlimited potential or feel hopeless without a future. As a mentor, you will have many opportunities to close this gap and ensure someone has the support needed to be optimistic and excited about his or her own life. One young person at a time.

How has an adult positively impacted your life? In what ways can you pay it forward?

 

Use these suggestions from How to Be a Good Role Model to consider ways you can inspire teens.

If you’re wondering how to start a conversation with a teen, consider these tips from Why We Must Talk to Young People About Their Dreams.

Children and teens are talking. Using these tips to encourage dialogue and Hear the Voice of Our Youth.

Teens are talking about all kinds of issues (with or without adult permission). Join the discussion with suggestions from Politics, God, Race, Sex, & Other Controversial Topics Kids Discuss at School.

If you want to involve more young people in your organization, check out these tips from What You Must Do to Invite & Involve Youth (So They Want to Stay).

 

read more