When it comes to after-school programs for teenagers, a lot of young adults may seem directionless. Teenagers discouraged from allocating their time to the practical use of leisure in a productive way could neglect growth opportunities of mental fitness. Fortunately, there is a wide range of resources and strategies to encourage and promote emotional, physical, and social development in teens, which can help them succeed in the future. Mentoring is program that is normalized in out society, is when an adult figure is entrusted with the teenagers’ mental growth by providing valuable teaching techniques known to make a very positive impact on students’ lives. By connecting young people to caring, consistent, and supportive adults, the private sector can help young people achieve their dreams, and also strengthen communities, the economy, and our country. Whilst there is a growing necessity of mentorship programs, their effectiveness is determined by a proper framework which is guaranteed to have long lasting benefits on students undergoing the programs.

Need for Mentoring Programs

After-school activities for teenagers – such as mentoring programs – provide positive effects for participants, which, in turn, is beneficial to the family and the community. Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization, stated that substantial research proved that “after-school programs help kids attend school more often, get better grades, and build foundational skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.” After-school mentoring is a perfect development activity for teens. Mentors help young people succeed at school, work, and life and play a vital role in keeping students away from violence, substance abuse and support conflict resolution. They serve as a medium between great and not-so-great decisions that teenagers could potentially choose in their life. Especially for youth at risk in more marginalized communities, mentorship programs had a scientifically significant effect in producing long-term economic benefits (Southwick et al. 2007). Mentees have an opportunity to intake valuable knowledge from an experienced life guide which would develop real-world awareness. Whether it’s in a one-on-one format or a group setting, teens often need someone who they can trust and who will give them a listening ear. Teenagers may often be hesitant to talk freely with their parents or siblings for fear of being judged or ridiculed. Alternatively, parents may be preoccupied with work or may not have the required academic skills to help their teens in specific areas of their interest. In such cases, a mentoring program offers a safe environment where students can speak to trained and responsive adults. Besides, teenagers understand the value of blooming professional relationships between them and their mentors. A study conducted by a nonprofit organization, Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership, concluded that “nearly all young adults who had formal mentoring relationships (95 percent) found these experiences to be ‘helpful,’ including more than half (51 percent) who found the relationship to be ‘very helpful.’”

Key Ingredients of a Good Mentoring Program

Mentorship programs are to be structured professionally and constructively. A mentor and a mentee should be matched based upon shared experience, whether past life choices or cultural similarities. An advisor often starts with a needs-based assessment to identify gaps in the child’s academic, social or emotional framework. Mentors may communicate with parents, friends, siblings, and teachers to fully understand problem areas in the teen’s life. All information should be kept confidential to build an atmosphere of trust and respect unless something dangerous might potentially lead to mentee harm. The relationship dynamic of a mentee and a mentor relies on a mutual learning opportunity. While the protege could use the mentor as a helpful role model to lead life choices by example, the open-minded mentor could use the protege’s experience to improve his methodology. Mentoring should be leveraged at the local, state, and national levels as a critical tool to address the pressing issues facing the next generation. Mentors and students are encouraged to be honest with each other and fully commit to this collaborative relationship. A good mentoring program is also dynamic and flexible and can redefine itself based on changing needs. Goal setting is another important aspect as it sets up expectations and ensures accountability. In the long term, to create more benefit for both parties, commitment to the cause must be persistent. The length of the mentoring relationship contributes to the success of the mentee later in life. According to Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership, “youth satisfaction in mentoring relationships doubled when comparing relationships of more than a year to less than a year (67 percent of young adults found their structured mentoring relationship very helpful if it lasted for a year or more versus 33 percent when the relationship lasted less than a year), confirming the notion that longer relationships are stronger relationships.”

Benefits of Mentoring Programs

Effective mentoring programs help students and teens develop self–esteem, and confidence thanks to enhanced academic performance and improved social skills. The youth has a chance to normalize proactive habits into their life with the help of a well-formulated mentoring program. When quality mentoring is integrated with other research-based reforms and interventions, high school dropout rates fall, college completion rates rise, economic mobility increases, and ultimately, the economy is more substantial from an increase in productive workers. Further, mentorships build stronger interpersonal relationships in communities due to improved communication skills. Soft skills are essential to help students achieve targeted goals thanks to improved time management, problem-solving, negotiation, and teamwork. There are many benefits from social development activities for students. These personal changes become meaningful when it comes to securing employment opportunities later in life. Mentoring programs in different environments can help teens deal with other transitions they experience, both physical and emotional. The ultimate goal of a mentorship program is to transfer problem-solving resources to the mentee, which they can use to relieve dilemmas they encounter in adulthood. Students learn to face stressful challenges while maintaining healthy relationships with people around them. Finally, mentorships encourage creative innovation, which helps students foster confidence in their ideas, strengths, and abilities. The localization of teen mentorship programs leads to creating a vast network of valuable connections – for both the mentor and the mentee.

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