Looking for first-rate resources for youth and peer mentors? Here, we’ve compiled some of our favorites.
- Youth.gov and the National Criminal Justice Reference Service are government sites with a generous array of youth and peer mentoring resources covering a huge variety of subjects, including money management, bullying prevention, relationship violence, gang involvement, coping with an incarcerated parent, and many more.
- The National Mentoring Resource Center has a few dozen guides for mentors covering everything from developing healthy eating habits to talking about college to guiding pregnant or parenting teens. There’s even a guide for helping mentors over 50 better relate to youths.
- The YouthBuild USA National Mentoring Alliance has an assortment of guides, books, and training materials. Included are guides on gang-exposed youth and helping traumatized youth. An array of other topics are also covered.
- NACADA, an organization of professional academic advisers, has some good peer mentoring resources if that’s your focus.
- Mentoring Pittsburgh has an excellent handbook on peer mentoring that describes what peer mentoring is and gives enthusiastic tips on how to be an effective mentor.
- The America’s Promise Alliance has a learning library filled with resources on mentoring, youth involvement, and a host of other topics.
- NationalService.gov has plenty of articles useful to tutors and mentors of all types, including materials about mentor and mentee volunteering.
- Building a relationship between a mentor and mentee can seem daunting, but the University of Kansas Community Tool Box has resources that can help. Mentoring.org also has useful tips for both youth and peer mentors on developing rapport with mentees.
- Search Institute has an exceptional article on building meaningful mentoring relationships. Once you’re done reading it, click around the site a little to find additional resources for mentors.
- Mentor Washington has a useful resource on something all mentors want to avoid: match closure, the early ending of a mentor/mentee relationship.
- The Prince’s Trust has a number of worksheets that could be useful as you guide your mentee. For example, there’s a worksheet to help find a job and a form for self-assessment of their social skills.
- Stuck for ideas for what to do with your mentee? We’ve turned up plenty of suggestions for activities.
At Bright County Mentors, we like to take a whole-group approach to mentoring as well as a more individualized one. That’s why we frequently host group activities aimed at bringing everyone together for fun and friendship.
Here are some ideas for getting to know the other mentors and mentees.
Name games are a must for large group introductions, helping people to associate facts or visual symbols with people’s names and making them easier to remember, so we make sure to start off our group events with these sorts of activities. A classic name game begins with everyone standing in a circle. Each person in the circle introduces themselves by saying their name and making a unique gesture with their hands or body (such as flapping their arms to represent a bird). When everyone in the circle has introduced themselves, someone starts the game by calling out another person’s name and making the gesture of the person they called. This person must call out a new person’s name while making the gesture associated with the new person’s name. The game continues until everyone knows everyone’s name or until the allotted time runs out.
Along with name games, icebreaker questions are a good way to begin conversations and get to know more about both fellow mentors and mentees. Questions can range from simple ones like “What’s your favorite animal?” to more complex ones like “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” Even silly questions like “If you were an ice cream flavor, which one would you be?” can yield unexpectedly deep answers and change the perspectives of those in the group.
A fun activity we sometimes do if the weather’s nice and we can go outside is a relay race. Larger groups of people can divide into teams and race each other for prizes, while smaller groups can work together to complete the challenge, so no matter how many people come, it’s a workable and fun activity. Sometimes, we scale down this activity for inside if the weather’s bad. An easy-to-make relay activity uses PVC pipes cut in half lengthwise to form a trough. Every group gets two PVC pipe sections, each about six inches long. The first person holds one section of PVC pipe in the air and places a marble or small ball on the inside of the pipe. The second person in line holds the other section of PVC. The first person has to roll their marble onto the second PVC pipe and then hand their section off to the third person in line, who moves behind the second person and gets the marble from them. The process repeats with the second and fourth person and so on. In order to win, you must cross a set distance without dropping the marble (or your team has to start over!). This challenge is great for improving communication and practicing patience.