Talk to Me - Mentoring Resources

Posted on March 10, 2016 by Amy Tolmie
Categories: Primary, Secondary, 16-19s, Young Leaders,

HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE: Here are 4 ready to use 30-minute mentoring sessions with a choice of activities, and some things to consider when beginning a mentoring relationship. 

Here are some things to remember when you are mentoring young people:

  1. Environment: The space you meet in is so important. The ideal setting is a small room with a window (so others can see you), comfortable chairs and a small table. 
  2. Confidentiality: Never promise this. Also make sure you are familiar with your safeguarding policy before starting any mentoring relationship.
  3. Boundaries: Both you and the mentee need these. Consider: frequency and length of meetings; time and place of meetings; total duration of the mentoring relationship.
  4. Creativity: Be creative and flexible in your approach to young people…they are all different!
  5. Breaking the state: At the end of each session make sure that the young person is emotionally secure. I call this ‘breaking the state’ as it brings them back to the present before they leave you. It can be as simple as talking about what lesson they are going back to after your session.

A simple formula for you to remember is:

1. Welcome activity + 2. Reflective exercise + 3. Closing activity = Complete session 

Of course, you may go prepared with 30/60 minutes of material, to find that the young person is ready to take the lead and talk in their own way. Be open for this and ready to respond to what they need…the key is being flexible and discerning as to what is most appropriate.

Welcome activities – 3-5mins

An icebreaker question (choose one of these):

  • Tell me about your week so far…
  • If you could travel to any place in the world, where would you go and how would you get there?
  • Describe your ideal day…

A game:

  • Fold a piece of paper in half and then open it up again so there is a line down the middle. Both of you have a different coloured pen and the first to colour in their half of the paper first wins! A very simple game, but very very fun.
  • Card games work well in one to one settings, e.g. Snap, 21, speed or use the schoolsworkUK playing cards!

Reflective activities – 20 mins

Your life is in your hands

 WHEN TO USE THIS ACTIVITY: with a young person who is anxious about their future, about change, or about things out of their control.

The purpose of this exercise is to enable the young person to grasp that although there will be things in their life they can’t control or change, the direction they go and the choices they make are ‘in their hands’.

  • Ask the young person to draw round their hand on a piece of paper. 
  • Ask them to carefully consider and explore what they want to achieve in their future and then write these things on the fingers and thumb of their drawn out hand.
  • You may want to put a time limit on it (e.g. next 5 years) and you want to encourage them to be realistic. Areas include: family, friendships, job/qualifications, kind of person want to be and hobbies or talents.
  • On the palm ask them to write or draw a few things that represent what they need to do in order to achieve their future aspirations. Spend time exploring these things with the young person and ask them to decide upon one practical thing that they could do in the near future to take a step towards their goals.

Self Worth Thermometer

WHEN TO USE THIS ACTIVITY: with a young person who struggles with how they see themselves and their sense of worth. 

  • Download the following worksheet: Self-worth thermometer
  • Ask the young person to fill the thermometer with things that make them feel good about themselves. Ask them to pick smaller things for the bottom of the thermometer (e.g. eating ice cream), gradually building up to things that make them feel really good (e.g. spending time with my friends).
  • Explore the feelings associated with these things and enable the young person to reflect on why these things have such a positive impact on them.
  • Use this exercise to remind the young person that there are many positive things that are available to them when they are feeling low.

Looking into my life

WHEN TO USE THIS ACTIVITY: When helping a young person move on from an event in their lives that has been difficult.

  • Print out this image of a window with 4 panes.
  • Explain to the young person that you are going to imagine that you are looking at your life through this window.
  • In one of the panes, ask the young person to draw, write, or represent in any way they like, what comes to mind when they think about their life in the past.
  • In another pane, ask them to do the same for their life at present.
  • After they have completed these two panes, explore their past and their present with them, drawing out how they feel about their life.
  • The other two panes are for representing their future. You may wish to complete these panes after the discussion about their past and present, or you may wish to come back to this part of the exercise in another session.

Closing activities – 3-5mins

Choose an approach appropriate to the individual session. It may work to use another game here, or if it has been a particularly sensitive session, you may want to ease them out of that by asking what they are looking forward to or worried about for the rest of the day. Try and lighten the atmosphere when appropriate and introduce laughter. Whatever you do, the aim is to break the state so that they are ready to go back to their life outside the safety of the room.