Beyoncé. Peyton Manning. Mark Zuckerberg. What famous person does your child look up to and admire? Whoever it is, wouldn’t it be even more powerful if there were a relative or a teacher your child actually knows who could become a role model? That’s what a mentor is—an older child or adult who encourages and spends quality time with your child.
“It can be especially helpful to have a mentor who also has learning and attention issues.”
The Benefits of Mentorship
A mentor can talk to your child about problems that crop up and help set future career goals. Or a mentor and your child might just spend time having fun together. Having a mentor can raise a child’s self-esteem and lead to better performance at school. It can also make your child less likely to drink alcoholic beverages or use illegal drugs.
It can be especially helpful to have a mentor who also has learning and attention issues. Your child can talk to the mentor about frustrations and get suggestions from someone who’s dealt with similar challenges. Some kids are reluctant to reach out for help when they need it. They might be embarrassed about their learning issues. Having a mentor who’s been there can remove that barrier.
Types of Mentors
There are many types of people who could be good mentors. Finding the right mentor might take some time. It’s important to find a mentor who’s a good fit for your child. Here are some people you might want to consider:
- Older kids, especially those with learning and attention issues
- A sports coach, art teacher or music teacher
- A school teacher
- Adults or college students with learning and attention issues (which you may find through an organization like Eye to Eye)
- A neighbor or family friend
- One of your coworkers
- A mentor found through a mentoring organization
How to Find a Mentor
- Start by considering the people you already know. Think about your child’s interests. Is your child a budding painter? Maybe you know an art teacher or an artist who might make time to go to an art museum or talk about art with your child.
- Try talking one-on-one with a potential mentor first. This way you won’t put the person on the spot in front of your child. Some people may want to be mentors but simply don’t have the time to dedicate.
- Mentoring programs can match your child with a volunteer mentor. Check with your child’s school for recommended mentoring programs in your area.
- Eye to Eye mentors are adults with learning and attention issues. There are also programs that aren’t specific to learning and attention issues, like Big Brothers Big Sisters.
- A mentor is a positive role model for your child. If you’re a single mom, a male mentor can provide a role model of the opposite sex (and vice versa for single dads). It’s one more person who offers support and encouragement for your child. This can help your child do better in school and even raise your child’s self-esteem.