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MAKE A DIFFERENCE—MENTOR A CHILD

Imagine a world where young people feel empowered, encouraged, and understood.  Mentors can make that world a reality.

January is National Mentoring month, and Osborne Wood Products is a proud supporter of children’s mentoring programs, and encourages their employees to participate in mentoring a child one hour each week in local schools. Osborne understands that children need adults who will take an interest in them, and demonstrate by their continued presence that they care, and that the child matters.

You may be wondering exactly what mentoring is, and any challenges or problems of becoming a mentor. In reality, the hardest part of mentoring is just showing up, but it is the most important part. The dedicated attention of a positive role model over time can make a child thrive, and a mentor just might be the only positive role model in a child’s life. As with most things, just showing up can be the biggest challenge for mentors, but the process of mentoring is usually a lot of fun.  Most schools provide a rich variety of board games, card games, activity books and sports equipment to guarantee a fun and successful mentoring session.

So what does a typical mentoring session look like? First, show up at the child’s school, sign in to the school’s registration portal, and proceed to the child’s classroom. As the child is called out of class, they are usually beaming with joy at being the “special one” that gets to go have fun, while the other children look on with undisguised envy.

A quick trip to the library or designated Mentoring room is a chance to ask the child about what they have been doing that day or during the last week, and what they might want to do that day for their Mentoring session. They are usually quick to select the game or activity they want to do, and the child and mentor figure out how to get everything set up for their fun that day.

During the game or activity, a mentor can ask questions to find out more about the child and what their interests are. Talking while playing a game is easier for shy children, and helps draw them out. Over time, their interests are gradually uncovered — sports, or reading, or music or even animals. A mentor can do little things to support the child’s likes and interests, such as bringing a photo of their dog if the child likes dogs, or bringing a themed calendar with basketball stars for a sports fan. Bringing their favorite treat once in a while is a huge hit, and remembering their birthday with a card or small gift will really make their day. The session usually ends with a quick hug and a promise to meet again next week.

Playing games with them is really enjoyable, especially for the child, if the mentor lets them win a lot of the time! It’s not a competition! Smart mentors will lavish praise for the child’s little successes and ideas that are observed during play time. Mentors understand that just a little bit of positive attention in a child’s life can mean the difference between failure and success, and between just getting by and really thriving.

So what’s a great way you can make a difference in the life of a child? Just keep showing up one hour each week, and lavish them with positive attention, all while having fun!

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