In a world where there is pressure to succeed, relationships to negotiate and an increasing need to ‘fit in’, young people need support and reassurance from individuals they respect. While support can, and should come from you as parents, your son may benefit from guidance, advice and reassurance from beyond his family unit.
Mentors are usually individuals with more life experience. They have knowledge to impart and can support your son in his journey towards adulthood. They may be a facilitator of curiosity and critical thinking skills, someone to encourage enjoyment in learning, a promoter of life skills and wellbeing, or a role model for future success.
The benefits of mentoring school students have been shown to include:
- Increased self-esteem and confidence
- Stronger, more positive relationships
- Healthier lifestyle choices
- Positive outlook to school and schoolwork
- Higher tertiary education enrolment rates
- Improved behaviour
- Lower school dropout rates
- Improved interpersonal skills
Below are our five top reasons why your son needs mentors.
1. Mentors can inspire your son
If your son wants to be an Olympian, enlist the support of a current or past Olympian; if he loves science, locate an inspirational scientist; and if he aspires to be a teacher, speak to a passionate teacher. By enlisting the support of those who are subject matter experts and share an interest with your son, he will get realistic insights into his chosen path. Through sharing his or her experiences and stories a mentor can highlight potential pitfalls or areas of potential that your son may not have thought about.
2. Mentors can help improve communication, creativity and critical thinking
The simple act of having to articulate himself to his mentor, means your son’s communication skills are likely to improve. Your son can bounce ideas of a mentor and get feedback to further develop them or take them in different directions, giving him the opportunity to use his creativity and critical thinking skills.
3. Mentors encourage your son to persist
Mentors can share their successes and failures and provide real-life examples of disappointments that have led to learning, growth and ultimately success. By sharing learnings about things that didn’t go quite right, a mentor will reinforce the message that setbacks should be used as a learning opportunity rather than a reason to give up. Mentors can help your son see the positive aspects of any difficulties they encounter and can offer different approaches and ideas. By pointing out what your son does well, a mentor can offer encouragement and motivation, leading to increased self-belief and determination in your son.
4. Mentors broaden your son’s mind
We all see life in a slightly different light and for this reason mentors can be advantageous, as they offer a different perspective and can broaden your son’s views. They may introduce your son to a career path he may not have considered, or simply offer him a different outlook that challenges his way of thinking.
5. There are some things your son doesn’t want to discuss with you
There are some subjects your son may not want to explore in detail with you. Having a mentor or trusted advisor can assist your son to broach these topics in a safe, non-judgemental environment. Mentors can help fill the gaps between home discussions and activity, and the outside world.
Mentors can develop naturally and sometimes parents need to help them along. This may be through encouraging the development of relationships with individuals in your son’s life, contacting school or personal acquaintances, or enlisting the help from a mentoring organisation. Below we offer some tips for choosing a mentor for your son:
- Establish ground rules at the beginning of the relationship. This will mean all rules and guidelines are clear for your son and his mentor.
- Consider conducting a background check and speak to references.
- Meet with the mentor privately and talk opening about your son’s needs and expectations.
- For the comfort of your son, organise initial mentoring opportunities at your home. This also allows you to ‘keep an eye’ on the situation.
- Start with a small commitment and build from there. This gives both parties the opportunity to decide if the mentor/mentee relationship suits.
- Communicate regularly with your son’s mentor.
- Communicate regularly with your son about mentoring and if he sees it as advantageous to his growth and development.
At Trinity Grammar School, students are exposed to the mentoring concept from an early age. As part of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, students are encouraged to seek a mentor to help complete their Exhibition project in Year 6. These mentors guide and assist boys to develop their chosen topic. Our alumni also play a vital role in our community, mentoring current students and taking an active role in their education.
For over a hundred years we have guided boys to grow in mind, body and spirit to reach their potential, develop their passions and realise their purpose. To see why we are one of Sydney's leading boys schools, and to learn about the Trinity difference, register for our Open Day.