Reconnecting with your mentee

School is back in session and many school-based mentors are seeing their mentees for the first time in months. How can you recapture the relationship you developed last school year?

The lazy days of summer have passed and a new school year has begun. It’s time for thousands of mentors to enter schools and spend time with young people who are looking for a friend and a role model. If you are an experienced mentor, you might be reconnecting with the same mentee you were matched with last year. Continuing a match for a second (or third) year can lead to powerful outcomes for young people. Long lasting and close relationships with a mentor help young people develop confidence and increase self-efficacy.

Some mentors are surprised when the new school year starts and the relationship seems different. It is perfectly normal for things to be a little off at first. Going back to school can be an emotional experience for some youth. Your mentee might be nervous, excited or anxious about school in general.

Even if your mentee loves being part of the mentoring program, it can be a little scary coming back. Youth often wonder if their mentor will still like them or have other worries. Your mentee has probably changed some over the summer and there will be a period of time dedicated to catching up and getting reacquainted. This is not really different from when you catch up with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time—it takes a little time to get back in sync. Your mentee may not have experienced this before and he will need you to take the lead in reestablishing the relationship.

So what can you do to get back on track? Michigan State University Extension suggests the following.

  • Assuming you did, let your mentee know that you missed your visits during the summer or that you thought of him or her often.
  • Take some time to catch up. Find out what your mentee did over the summer and tell them about some of your experiences. Sharing pictures is a great way to get the conversation started.
  • Ask questions about school: Who is your teacher? Are any of your close friends in your class? What subjects are you looking forward to this year?
  • Talk about your upcoming year together. What do the two of you want to accomplish together? Set some goals.

Within a few weeks, you will be back to your routine and your relationship will be even stronger.

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