January is National Mentoring Month. As parents, we often try to make sure that our teens are exposed to great opportunities to expand them academically, socially, and vocationally. A wonderful way to do this is through mentoring opportunities. There are many mentoring programs, as well as individual mentors that tremendously impact the lives of young people. Below are a few of the most popular types.
1. Academic mentoring programs
Academic focused programs offer components such as tutoring, test prep, coaching and improvement methods for young people. Generally these programs include opportunities for more rigorous instruction and preparation for post-secondary academics.
2. Athletic mentoring programs
Participation in athletics provides abundant opportunities for mentoring. Young people learn the values of hard work, dedication, and teamwork. They also are afforded a great deal of encouragement by their coaches and other interested staff. Not only are athletic programs great for physical fitness, they promote a great deal of fitness emotionally as well.
3. Leadership mentoring programs
Young people have great leadership potential. Even teens who typically find themselves in problematic situations may have awesome leadership skills that just need to be channeled in a positive direction. Leadership based programs provide the tools young adults need to cultivate and develop into trailblazers.
4. Gender specific mentoring programs
Many mentoring programs target specific genders in order to focus on the unique needs of boys or girls. Gender specific programs are a great method for teens to focus on their unique needs and to be mentored by adults who understand how to address the concerns of teens. While each program is different, female programs tend to focus on self- esteem and emotional wellness as a basis for success. Male programs often focus on what “manhood” means for developing young men as they journey to greatness.
5. Faith based mentoring programs
Faith based mentoring programs are often developed out of concern for the well-being of the young people within a church or community. The basis for mentoring comes out of the faith and the desire to being about positive results for the community.
Mentoring programs typically are free to minimal costs depending on the program and structure. Reputable programs thoroughly screen those working with young people and are stringent with guidelines for those serving as mentors, however, as a parent, I recommend that you also carefully screen the agency/individual as well.
If you would like to seek out mentoring programs in the Atlanta area, contact your local school system or faith community. I also recommend checking with two great agencies that connect those seeking mentoring, Atlanta Cares and Mentor. You can learn more about mentoring opportunities from Atlanta Cares at http://atlanta.caresmentoring.org/, and Mentor at http://www.mentoring.org/.