The idea that children benefit from caring and consistent relationships with adults is by no means new. Ever since Odysseus entrusted the education of his son to Mentor in Homer’s Odyssey, adults who provide children with guidance have shared the loyal sage’s name. Community-based child mentoring got its start in 1904 when Ernest K. Coulter founded a movement offering children the opportunity to connect with adults who serve as positive role models.
A basic premise of the Kiwanis Club philosophy is all children should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, a goal achievable through school-based mentoring programs. Over the past 10 years Kiwanians have served as mentors at both Borman and Evers Park Elementary Schools in Denton. During that time the number of club mentors has grown from six at its inception to a current 28, plus Cody, the therapy dog.
Mentoring propels students from under-resourced communities to fulfill their potential by empowering them to become confident and ready to step up to the next academic challenge. Children in kindergarten to 4th grade are referred by teachers to Kiwanian mentors to provide support and guidance around academic skills and offer general encouragement on life’s challenges. Mentors focus on child-specific reading, writing and math skills and incorporate games (board games, chess, checkers and cards) to advance critical thinking and socialization skills.
There’s a lot to be said in favor of mentoring. In studies of outcomes for youth engaged in school-based mentoring programs, teachers reported that students developed more positive attitudes toward school; achieved higher grades in social studies, languages and mathematics; developed higher levels of self-confidence; and were less likely to use drugs and alcohol. With these recognized positive benefits, the demand for mentoring has steadily grown. While the exact number of formal, organized mentoring relationships is not known, it is estimated that only a fraction of youth are being served today.
School-based mentoring programs and the administrators, teachers and community volunteers who serve them share a single common goal: student success, because when a child succeeds we all succeed. Mentoring, in the presence of a caring adult, provides a child with support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive role-modeling.
Mentoring is about building relationships. If you’re looking to build relationships with others in service to your community, visit the Kiwanis Club on the first and third Friday of each month at 8:30 a.m. in the Clubhouse. For more information contact Jim Galbraith at firstname.lastname@example.org.