Does your teenage homeschooler have any mentors? Mentors are adults outside of the family who help teach and guide teens as they explore new interests. Mentors don’t take the place of homeschooling parents, but can contribute in powerful ways to a positive experience of homeschooling high school. Mentors can enrich a student’s academic experience and also provide an important support as students move from adolescence to adulthood.
What Homeschooling Mentoring Looks Like
There are many different kinds of mentoring relationships. Mentors can be neighbors, friends from work, community organizations, or church. Here are a few examples of mentoring relationships:
- Tyler loves watching History Channel documentaries about military history. For a homeschooling oral history project, Tyler was chose to interview veterans. One of the people he met was John, a Korean War Veteran from his church. John and Tyler started meeting to talk about war history and John shared books from his extensive library.
- Sara has a real talent and interest in math. Sara was doing fine with math as a homeschooler. Her mom trained as an accountant and was capable of helping Sara with the standard math curriculum, but she didn’t have the interest or ability to help Sara with some of her other math questions. A neighbor suggested they speak with her math professor friend, Elizabeth. Mary met with Elizabeth and introduced her to advanced math topics such as topology and allowed her to sit in on lectures with her college students.
- Devon has always had a knack for working with his hands. He noticed his neighbor, Gene, building a new shed and offered to help. Gene helped Devon learn woodworking techniques and two years later they still meet up to share their latest projects.
Why Mentoring Teens Benefit from Mentoring
Moving from dependence on parents to life as an independent adult can be a challenging. Even for kids who don’t rebel or act out, it can be tricky to navigate this transition. Having more adults, including mentors and friends, is helpful for many teens. These adults can provide role models of living as a successful adult. Receiving positive feedback from an adult who shares similar interests can provide a positive boost to self esteem and help kids begin to imagine themselves as successful adults. Mentors who share subject interest can provide additional depth to homeschooling subjects as well. Finally, mentors can act as a source of recommendations for students as they apply for college or employment.
How To Begin and Maintain Mentor Relationships
As we read in the examples above mentoring relationships often begin very informally and evolve naturally as time goes on. Students and mentors may meet for a single project or regularly for years. It is important to maintain open communication with the mentor and address any problems as they arise. Of course use common sense precautions in identifying and supervising appropriate mentors. Also, be sure to extend appreciation to mentors by writing notes of thanks or small presents such as baked goods.
If you’ve been a mentor of if your homeschooler has a mentor we’d love to hear more about your experiences in the comments section.