Orientation of volunteer adult mentors could take place in different ways e.g., with a group of potential mentors, or as part of a face-to-face interview. Whichever method is used, it must take place prior to the completion of the written application forms.
Generally the orientation process provides an opportunity for volunteers to:
- Gain an overview of the mentoring programme and how it operates
- Understand their roles and responsibilities
- Hear about the mentor training programme and attendance requirements
- Understand the level of commitment expected (time to meet with mentees; things to do; how often they will meet; ongoing training and supervision policies and procedures)
- Become familiar with programme procedures such as the screening process
- Hear about any benefits and rewards for mentors, reimbursements etc.
- Ask any other questions or discuss any concerns they might have about the mentor programme
Effective youth mentoring programmes are encouraged to offer ongoing structured training programme for mentors, young people and caregivers/parents (where applicable). This training could include:
- A general discussion about how to handle a variety of situations that might occur during the mentoring journey
- Ideas and strategies on how to build a meaningful mentoring relationship.
The best preparation of volunteer adult mentors for the mentoring journey is the provision of a thorough training programme prior to the match. Mentor training programmes will be designed to meet the specific requirements of the particular youth mentoring programme being offered. When training is part of the screening process, programme staff have the opportunity to learn more about potential mentors.
Where mentors are mentoring high risk young people with anti-social behaviour tendencies, the training is likely to be longer and more in-depth.
Some important topics effective mentor training programmes should cover might include:
- Becoming a mentor - qualities of effective mentors; mentoring different age groups; confidentiality issues; establishing boundaries and ground rules; different stages in a mentoring relationship; clarifying the role of the mentor in a particular programme
- Goal setting and effective management of time skills - realistic goal setting skills aimed at encouraging a young person to reach his or her potential, educational or career goals
- Strategies to build a young person's self-efficacy and self-confidence; resiliency - identifying a young person's strengths
- Effective communication strategies
- Effective management of conflicts
- Diversity training - preparing mentors for cross-cultural relationships; mentoring young people from high risk environments; valuing diversity and being sensitive to different cultures and faiths
- Gaining ideas on what to do with mentees during the mentoring journey e.g., the development of life skills; doing fun activities together; working with a mentee's family (whanau); linking mentees to other support groups and agencies within the community
- Discussing mentoring with past and present mentors and mentees
The ongoing training of mentors is regarded as key to the development of effective mentoring relationships.