Summer is Coming!
Spring is just around the corner! And with that comes the realization that summer break is not far behind. It may seem early, but now is the time to begin talking with your student about the upcoming break in your mentoring sessions:
Introduce the idea of summer break several weeks before it will occur!
Kids Hope USA encourages you to do this because the idea of not seeing you for three months can be pretty daunting for a student, and sometimes even frustrating. A great example is a little girl who, after a year of slow progress in communicating with her mentor, completely shut back down after hearing that she wouldn’t be seeing her mentor during the summer months. A lot of the worry that the student had was feeling a sense of abandonment. She wasn’t confident that her mentor would come back the following year. However, because the idea was introduced several weeks before school was let out, they had those weeks to re-establish the student’s confidence in her mentor – and understand that her mentor was planning on coming back the following year.
Talk about what the summer means for your student!
And be prepared for them to not have much to tell you. Some mentors often remember summer as a time full of family vacations, summer camps and time with friends and family. However, this isn’t always the case for many children. Families are faced with many different types of situations – and often children end up spending a lot of their summer break at home. So before asking whether or not your student is excited about summer break, ask if they have any special plans or activities that they plan on doing while they aren’t in school. And if the situation arises where they share that they plan on spending a lot of time at home, together you can brainstorm some activities or projects that they can work on during the break.
Bring closure to the year – whether you are planning on coming back as a mentor in the fall or not!
This is something that Kids Hope USA reiterates year after year. The importance of closure. Giving a child a sense of closure about your relationship when a school year ends helps give them a sense of security and understanding. If you do plan on coming back the following year to mentor your student, share with them that you plan to do so, and explain that in the fall you will be looking forward to begin meeting with them again.
If you do not plan on continuing the mentoring relationship, it’s important to be very open about that as well. Despite the reason, having a conversation about it will help your student process the experience and understand that you are not “abandoning” them. Always reassure your student of their worth and importance to you.
Last, it’s critical to have closure at the end of a school year because many things can happen in the three short months of summer breaks. Your student’s family could move or transfer schools. Or perhaps you experience a life change that doesn’t allow you to mentor any longer. Either way, giving your student a sense of closure is beneficial to their emotional health – and it’s a healthy way to interact with your student.