Your Impact on your mentee is bigger than you think! They still giggle when they think of that funny thing you said, still smile when they think of the compliment you gave them. Your impact has made them think twice, your support has made their day! Your impact makes a positive difference, whether you see it or not.
As mentors with school-based programs, we become accustomed to having a variety of breaks in the mentoring schedule like school holidays and summer breaks. As we’ve often learned and discussed in Seedling trainings, it’s essential to re-establish a connection and return to regular visits as soon as possible after one of these breaks. We know that children thrive on structure and regular schedules, which is why we encourage mentors to establish consistent routines with mentees.
So what can we do about unexpected, prolonged breaks, such as the one many of us are experiencing in the wake of COVID-19? We know many mentors have been waiting since last March to reconnect with their mentee. For those whose mentee has been located and we are simply waiting on the consent – consider writing a quick note to your mentee telling them how much you are looking forward to reconnecting. Your Mentor Director and School Contact will work together to make sure it is delivered.
Do you and your mentee share established rituals? Some mentors begin each weekly visit sharing what each did the previous weekend. This allows both the mentee and mentor to think about and prepare for what they’re going to share with each other. It also provides an opportunity for each to think of the other while they are apart. Mentors who end their visits by asking their mentees what they want to do next time give children some power in the relationship and something positive to look forward to. Mentors can come up with a variety of different rituals to share with their mentees, or they might ask their mentee what traditions they would like to come up with together. You might even establish new ones during your time mentoring virtually!
It is always a good idea to come back from any break, no matter how long it has been, ready to have fun! Researchers Tom Keller & Renee Spencer found that “mentors who expected to enjoy fun activities, had longer lasting matches than those who wanted to focus on things like achieving goals or developing a meaningful bond or connecting around intellectual interest.” Seedling’s Current Mentors page has numerous activities for virtual mentoring to choose from to keep your visits fun and engaging.