Peer Mentoring: 3 Tips For Creating A Successful Student Program
Author: Carey Thomas
February 14, 2018
Mentoring programs have proven to be an important part of students lives, especially with at-risk youth. Mentored youth maintain a better attitude towards school and typically have better school attendance. With a better attitude and better attendance than non-mentored youth, mentored youth also have a higher chance of attending college or university (The Role of Risk, 2013). That’s why the need for peer mentoring systems in schools should be a priority for everyone.
The Need for Peer Mentoring Programs
Everyone has struggles or insecurities. That’s why everyone hopes to have a friend to talk with, hang out with, and share their secrets with, including children; they need a confidant just like anyone else. However, our youngest students sometimes need guidance and support from someone besides a parent or a teacher. An alternative solution to consider is a peer mentor. Yes, even as young as five, these kiddos need peer support. As educators, we can help bridge this space by creating systems in our schools with peer-mentoring programs. These programs also have the added benefit of promoting 21st-century skills. Here are three tips on establishing and creating a peer mentoring program in your school.
Creating Peer Mentoring Programs
Creating a peer-mentoring program provides opportunities for children to share their feelings, thoughts, and concerns with their fellow peers—it is a simple and strategic way to teach children how to build relationships with their peer mentor and with other people. Besides providing opportunities for children to build relationships, peer mentoring programs also teach soft skills, like compassion, listening, and kindness— skills that are now being included in 21st-century education and sought after in the economy. Creating a peer mentoring program in your school does not need to be difficult and can, in fact, be created in three simple steps.
1. Start with Simple Programs
Peer mentoring programs do not need to be elaborate to work. Start with a simple program like Book Buddies. The premise of Book Buddies is simple —older children meet with younger children to read a short book, create a seasonal craft, or just play a game together. This time can aid children in their reading skills while increasing their confidence in their abilities.
2. High Achievers as Mentors
What about using high achievers as peer mentors/tutors? People love to be asked to share their knowledge with others, so the idea of using high achievers as peer mentors is a wonderful idea! We want our children to feel valued and important. Giving younger children access to older children not only helps the younger ones but also provides older students with leadership opportunities as peer mentors. TIP: Set up a system where a peer-mentor student comes to school early and meets in the library with a younger student who needs help.
3. Create a Safe Space
Middle school can be an especially challenging time for children; the stress of developing new friendships while discovering more about themselves and their place in the world can be a confusing time. Creating safe places for students to meet and talk is essential for their comfort as they maneuver their way through these awkward years.
The key to successful children begins with the positive step of creating a foundation of security and confidence. Utilizing peer mentors can bridge the space parents and teachers may not always fill. As both a parent and an educator, I have seen how important it is for my girls to have mentors. Doesn’t every home and school need more of that?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A natural communicator, Carey studied the art of interpersonal and public communication in college and later earned a Master’s Degree in Education at Indiana University. Carey utilized her knowledge in higher education settings like the University of Florida, elementary education as a librarian, and in high school as booster president. She has facilitated several staff developments, leadership training, and diversity education for students and staff.
Carey traded her professional career for an equally fulfilling new one when her children were born, electing to stay home. She was engaged in her three daughters school district as a staff member, volunteer, and substitute teacher.
Currently, Carey holds down 3 part-time jobs, one as an educational consultant, a substitute teacher in grades 2-12, and at the local grocery store. She spends time working, reading, volunteering, and keeping up with 3 teenage girls. She tries to live her mission “leave everything better than how she found it”. She looks forward to hearing from you at [email protected]
Originally from upstate New York, Carey currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and three daughters and her pup Masie. Her family enjoys all that Texas has to offer, Y’all.