Mentoring students at a school is an incredible way to reach out in our communities. And it’s really quite easy to do. Mentoring is simply coming alongside someone for the purpose of encouraging and teaching. It doesn’t mean you have to be an expert or trained teacher to mentor someone. Just a willing heart to spend consistent time with someone and to love them.
Many schools are open to mentoring or at least have a lunch buddy program where you can sit with a child who needs an little extra help for whatever reason. School counselors know the kids that need encouragement and can easily identify a student who could use a mentor or lunch buddy.
How do I become a mentor or lunch buddy?
Go in person to a local school and make an appointment with the school counselor or principal. Ask if they have any type of a program that welcomes mentors or lunch buddies. Find out what it takes to get involved.
What makes a good mentor?
Someone who shows up. Someone who asks good questions. Someone who listens. Someone who is willing to share from their own life experiences. Someone who prays for their student.
What are good questions to ask my student?
- What was the best part of your week?
- What was the worst part of your week?
- What did you have for dinner last night?
- If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
- Tell me what you think makes a good friend.
- What do you like about yourself?
- If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?
What are things to avoid in mentoring?
- Bringing goodies and treats – make it very seldom.
- Saying anything negative about their family
- Asking too many personal questions – you’re not a counselor but a friend.
- Being by yourself with the student – always be in a public place like lunchroom, library, etc.
- Being inconsistent in your visits for long periods of time.
As you pray for and get to know your student you will see specific needs and areas to talk about. Go into your time with one thing you’d like to talk about. It could be dealing with bullies, doing homework, attitude, obedience, safety, honesty, etc. You might not always get there but it will help you be strategic with your time. It’s okay to not “accomplish” anything in your time because just being there sends a powerful message. But it’s also good to have goals and ideas of things you want to teach your student. Stay in the lines of character and integrity issues. Talking about Jesus dying for your student’s sins will end your mentoring career real fast. If you take your lunch with you tell your student you’re going to bow your head and pray for your lunch. If he or she asks questions then feel free to answer them. The purpose of this particular outreach is not to openly share your faith but to openly share your love which is fueled by your faith. It’s not a waste just because you can’t whip out your Bible and share the Gospel. Trust God with where He takes your mentoring relationship and how he might open future doors to share more specifically the amazing good news you want to share with your student.