How I teach - Find your way as a mentor

22nd August 2014 at 01:00
Take the right path and avoid the pitfalls of offering guidance

Being a mentor to a student is a tough job. Whether you are an academic mentor (helping to organise a student who can't get homework in on time) or a pastoral guide (acting as a sounding board when their home life is hard to cope with), it is a stressful and demanding role.

You will be able to help with most of the difficulties your mentee faces at school: social struggles, problems with organisation and trouble with homework can all be addressed, for example. And once a child feels that they are beginning to get on top of things, the transformation can be surprisingly rapid.

Other problems, however, will present a real challenge. Some of the issues faced by students are so complex that they require help from external organisations, such as your local child and adolescent mental health services.

Despite the extra demands on you, supporting a young person through tough times is an important job and any effort to help will be appreciated - even if you don't get a thank you out loud. Here are some top tips:

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