IDEAS FOR HOW TO CONNECT WITH YOUR STUDENT
Let’s face it, mentorship may not feel inherently natural to everyone. The great thing is that it is a learned skill. Here are some ideas to help you get started on how to connect with students. We encourage you to test out some of these ways to connect and see what works for you and your student. After all, connecting is the first step.
- Text Message – set a calendar reminder for once a week or month and send an encouraging note, quote or scripture verse.
- Eating Together – food is a good medium to hang out. Set up a breakfast, lunch or dinner outing. Rotate places to visit. Make it an adventure to explore new locations.
- Play – mentoring is not all about talking, one great way to bond is through play. Play frisbee golf, throw the football, go to the batting cage, bring a deck of cards, etc.
- Do a project or task – invite them along for a quick shopping trip to pick something up. Or have them help with a project you’re working on around the house.
- Go to a movie – look for a fun, upcoming movie and find a time to watch it together. Use the car ride, or post-movie ice cream to discuss the major themes of the movie.
- Dessert outing – go out for a quick ice cream or cupcake.
- Write a Letter – go old school and write them a letter. This can give a different medium for discussion that has natural time break due to postal delivery.
- Hiking adventure – get out into nature and go for a hike.
- Teach them a Life Skill – what might you be able to teach the student? Consider the life skills you might be able to impart: checking the oil, doing laundry, hammering a nail, playing golf, dealing with conflict, grocery shopping, etc.
Make sure to make it regular. Plan out your calendar and set reminders.
Will you meet once a month? Will it be the same activity or mix it up?
If you text them, will it be once a month, week, or day?
Conversation Starters for Mentorship
It’s funny how the idea of spending time with an adolescent can feel unnerving. It is a common human trait to feel uncomfortable around new situations. We have questions like: “What should I say?” or “How much should I ask?” or “What if they think I’m a lame mentor?” Here are some tips on how to begin conversations.
Do something together – a good way to more naturally move into conversation while developing relational trust is to do something together. Ex. Play in the park, wash the car, throw a baseball, go shopping, etc.
Posture – consider the positioning and comfortability. Riding in the car puts you both in the same direction. If you are out for coffee or at a restaurant, find a place that is more open to the room so you can also watch what is going on.
Words of praise – think through how you might lift up your mentee. Use words like: well done, great job, awesome, or I’m proud of you.
Questions – ask questions that gets them sharing. Plan a few ahead of time.
- Ask about an experience, “What’s a favorite/funny childhood story?”
- Ask about his/her interest, “What’s something you enjoy doing?”
- Ask about relationships, “Do you get along with your siblings?”
- Ask about their core, “Jesus said that heaven belongs to the children. Why would he say that?”
When asking questions, make sure you have thought through your own answers.
Trust me, kids love to ask the same questions back to you.
It’s because they want to learn from you!
Extra conversation starters
- “What’s been the best and worst of the past week?”
- “What did you think about the game?”
- If there is a new romantic relationship in his/her life, ask, “What do you like about him/her the most and the least?”
- “If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be?”
- “If you were stranded on a deserted Island and could only take 5 items, what would they be?”
- “If a zombie apocalypse happened right now, what would we need to do first?” (I’ve always been amazed by how this conversation can tell you a lot about a person’s values and thought patterns. Also ask, “Who would you take with you?”)
If you’ve have a common interest in music, movies, etc, utilize that connection, ask, “Did you see _________, yeah so why do you think they ended it that way?”
Connect With Us
For periodic updates and tips on how to be an effective FIVE mentor, CLICK HERE to sign up for our email or text list serve. If you have further questions along the way, please contact George Ratchford, Spiritual Life Director.