We live in a culture where the default is to “Live and let Live.” That sometimes means we don’t take opportunities to be caring and supportive of the other families around us (while also maintaining appropriate boundaries and privacy). The family assets framework reminds us that strong, trusting relationships with friends and neighbors are part of what makes families stronger, here are some ideas of how you can build family assets as a friend or neighbor.
Take the first step.
If you don’t know the names of the families who live around you, be bold and introduce yourself. Then write down their names to help you remember.
Whenever someone moves into your neighborhood, take the time to welcome them and get to know something about their family, their interests, and their pets (always a good connecting point!). You’ll likely discover shared interests that could be the foundation for a meaningful relationship.
Plan neighborhood celebrations and get-togethers.
Give people time to get to know each other informally. Be sure to offer name tags to help people learn or remember names.
Celebrate with families.
When you learn there’s an upcoming birthday, graduation, promotion at work, or other milestone, take a minute to offer congratulations or to send a note. If you know the family well, you may also be able to be with the celebration.
Adult Role Models
Good news! By being in the life of your student as a mentor, you are already working to build this asset. The trick to this asset is the importance of demonstrating a positive and responsible behavior to your student. As you walk together through life, teach them how to survive the storms and how to handle what is thrown your way. You don’t need to sit and have a long talk with them about it, instead just demonstrate it. Live it and students will see and learn. Share with them hardship and joy with the love of Christ and you will be a great role model.
Don’t think it ends there! Next, it is important for you to help your mentee find other adult role models in their life. Help them to identify the coaches, teachers, family members, and neighbors who are active in their life and encourage those relationships. Make a point to get to know the other adult role models in their life so that together you can collectively build a web of encouraging adults around them.
Service to Others-Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week
Is serving together part of your mentoring relationship? Did you know that serving others is one of the 40 developmental assets? If service isn’t currently something you do together, here are some simple ways to start serving together.
- Serve dinner to our homeless neighbors at the Sunday Community Meal at Lake Avenue Church: Every Sunday (except the 1st and 5th) of the month LAC volunteers provide a hot meal for the most vulnerable people in our community. Come to the Skyroom (4th floor of Hutchins Hall). Cooking and set up begins at 2, the meal is served at 5, and clean up is until about 7. You can come for part or all of it.
- Operation Christmas Child: Put together a shoebox of gifts to send to a child in another country. More information is available here: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/giving/buildabox/
- Make a microloan together: Research the micro-lending process at http://www.kiva.org. Together you can pick an entrepreneur to support and follow their progress.
- Work a shift at ACTS Thrift Store together: http://actsthrift.org/volunteer
- Ask your student about volunteer opportunities that they know about or are interested in. Follow their lead!
Students have dreaded homework since it was first created. It’s not always easy for a student to see and understand the benefits of homework, but homework allows students to practice what they are learning in class. By practicing at home they are cementing the material further into their minds. Duke University released a study that statistically shows that students achieve better grades when they spend time doing homework every school day.
As Mentors, it’s important that we make sure students are doing their homework. We should consistently ask students what they’re doing in school and what they’re doing for homework. If a student is struggling with a particular subject, you can make homework a part of your time together. You can tutor them in the subject, if you’re able, or bring a book to read while they work on completing their homework. Helping students understand the importance of working hard and completing their homework can set them up for future success.
A student with Asset #22 is actively engaged in their learning. What does engaged learning look like? Successful, engaged learners are responsible for their own learning. They achieve that by being self-regulated, able to define their own learning goals and evaluate their own achievement. They are also energized by their learning, with a passion for solving problems, understanding, and taking the next step in their thinking. Those who are engaged in learning know how to learn and are able to transfer knowledge to solve problems creatively.
As mentors what can we do to encourage, instruct and aid in this learning? We can be an information giver as a facilitator. As a facilitator you want to encourage them to be a collaborative worker to strengthen their skills to work with others. Also be an instructor, one who presents multiple perspectives, brainstorming, problem-solving processes and team teaching. Teach your student to take the role of explorer, be active in the physical world and with other people. Be that co-learner and co-investigator with your student helping them to become engaged learners.
Now that school has started for the fall, we are going to talk about Asset #24—Bonding to school. How can you help your student care about his/her school? If your student doesn’t show much school pride, you can start by talking about what your student likes or dislikes about school. You may be surprised at the reasons that a teen feels the way they do. After listening (and listening for what is behind the words), there may be ways that you can help your mentee think differently! For example, if they dislike school because of the way the campus looks, see if they’d like to organize some friends to do a “Campus Clean-up Day”. Maybe there is a club or sport offered that they haven’t thought of trying. Involvement in school activities build bonds with fellow students and connects a student to the life of their school. Your job as a mentor is to help your students connect to school resources and activities.
Self-esteem – Young person reports having a high self-esteem
Many students and young people have self-esteem issues. Often the people around them, whether it be family, friends, or other peers, put them down and tell them they’re not who or what they should be. They’re told they aren’t good enough and that they are not smart enough. We know that these are lies and that these lies are not how God sees them and how they were created.
A large part of mentoring is building up our students and speaking positively into their life. This includes seeing the God given gifts and potential that He has placed into each person and pointing them out in the lives of our students. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, in their book When Helping Hurts, speak on the importance of looking at those around us and asking, “What is right with you?” There are many people in the lives of students who ask, “What is wrong with you?” They are quick to point out all the negatives in the lives of students. By searching for what is “right” with our students and bringing their gifts and positive qualities to their attention, we as mentors, can encourage them and help to restore the dignity and self-esteem that have been so often stripped away.
God created us each uniquely and in His image. God has given us the amazing opportunity to speak into the lives of young people, encouraging them and pointing out what is “right” with them. By doing so, we can help to restore their image of themselves as beautiful and carefully made children of God. When we restore that image we will help to restore their self-esteem and their positive identity.
“Affirming words…are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.”
-Gary Smalley and John Trent Leaving the Lights On
Reading for pleasure – Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Bring them to look for books at garage sales, rummage sales, and second hand stores.
- Ask your mentee to recommend a favorite book of theirs. Read the book together and later discuss the character’s values.
- Give a book or magazine for them to read as a gift.
- Take a current event from an article in the newspaper, magazine or off the internet. Read it together and discuss the event as it relates to each of you. What would God say, what would you say and what would they say?
This month we are focusing on asset #3–Other adult relationships. The hope is that students have at least 3 strong relationships with adults that are not their parents. Of course, you as a mentor are one of those! You are directly contributing to the building of this asset simply by loving and spending time with your student. But how can you help them build other strong relationships? The first step is to identify with whom they already have relationships. The best way to do this is by listening–to whom your student talks about, and whom they admire. It may be that they feel very connected to Eric or Joanna or their tutor at STARS. A coach, teacher, or aunt can be a strong relationship as well. If you see that your student has other supportive adults in their life, it is a great idea to help them express appreciation to those individuals. We want those special adults to know of the important role they are playing in a young person’s development! They may not be aware of their importance, and you can help your student deepen and strengthen that relationship. Now, if you can’t identify other supportive adults in your student’s life, you can play a huge role in helping them build those relationships—and often the best place to start is within your own networks. It’s also great to have your student brainstorm about people they admire or would like to know better. And finally, enlist those other caring adults to be a scaffold around your student—rather than you being the only support system that they have.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns in your mentoring relationship, contact your coach. We are here to help!
Now that it’s the beginning of the Summer Blockbuster Season, we’re going to talk about Creative Activities! Hey, it’s Hollywood. Think back on the first time you ever truly appreciated art. Was it in middle school art class, watching “Casablanca” for the first time, seeing van Gogh’s “Starry Night” displayed, or listening to your favorite recording artist? What was that like for you? Did it maybe, just maybe, change the way you approached the world around you?
A student’s involvement in the arts has been shown, time and time again to improve their academics, critical thinking, motivation, self-expression, confidence, and teamwork. The arts provide a student with the opportunity to express themselves in new ways and to engage in the world around them.
So, how do you get them engaged in the arts? Start with the music they listen to. If they’re really into music and can’t sing or play an instrument, see if they want to sit and try writing poetry. You can even expose them to new music; the Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena offers free concerts in the summer. If you have an old camera lying around, whether it is a point and shoot, an SLR, or the one on your phone, go for a photo walk. Walk around the neighborhood, yours or theirs, and take pictures of interesting things, flowers, trees, graffiti, or whatever. You could also go to the library and check out a play, then take turns acting out the characters as you read it together.
I’ll leave you with a poem by one of my favorite poets and probably one of your student’s favorite poets. It says a lot about our students and the work we hope to do together.
The Rose That Grew From Concrete
Did u hear about the rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete
Proving Nature’s Laws wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet
Funny it seems but by keeping its dreams
it learned to breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared!
-Tupac Amaru Shakur
Family Support – Family provides high levels of love and support. Your mentee finds their greatest encouragement and support from their parents or guardian, aunts and uncles, grandparents and siblings. The search institute found that the national average of youth having asset #1, is 64%.
As a mentor you can call or write parents and give them suggestions to always give their children positive support and encouragement through communication and with building their planning and decision making skills. Encourage parents to set aside at least one evening per week for family activities. Research and make suggestion of family recreations that the community offers that support both parent and family.
This month we are focusing on Asset #18–Youth programs. Involvement in community groups, sports, school programs, and church youth groups is an asset we want to build in our students’ lives. Many of our mentees attend STARS, but there are many other opportunities in the Pasadena community for students. All the Pasadena libraries have programs and teen book groups, and there are wonderful recreation programs offered through the City of Pasadena.
If your student has a lot of free time after school and on weekends, it would be a great idea to brainstorm with them about what kinds of activities he/she would be interested in trying. Summer is also an excellent time to try something new. This summer, the City of Pasadena is offering all it’s recreation classes at no cost to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and have a valid PUSD id. Swimming lessons, boxing, dance, art classes, and much more for free! We will send out more details in our April newsletter.
Asset #19 is Religious Community, in which your student spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution. Here are some ideas for helping your student gain this asset:
1. Encourage your student to talk about his/her interpretations of spiritual or religious concepts (such as faith, prayer and attending church). Ask questions to clarify comments, rather than judging what they say.
2. Help your student to seek out other adult mentors with deep spiritual commitments or practices, even if those practices differ from your own. Do they already attend a church service or mass? Is there a youth group at that church they could attend? Or is there an adult at that church that they look up to?
3. Keep talking with and listing to your student, even if they say things about religion or spiritually that disappoint you. Engaging them in conversation will help them think about what they believe and what they need to think about regarding their faith life.
4. Together, read stories and enjoy music and other creative arts that have religious or spiritual themes. For example, watch one of your student’s favorite movies and try to find spiritual themes with your student, or discuss what could have been different in the characters’ lives if they believed (or didn’t believe) in God.
With the New Year comes New Year’s Resolutions.
In 2012 share with your student your Resolutions and help them create their own. Asset number 32 is Planning and Decision Making in which young persons know how to plan ahead and make choices. Start by asking your student what their goals for 2012 are and have them choose to focus on the one they are most passionate about. Once a goal is set brainstorm with your student steps they would need to take to achieve their goal. Be sure to have them think about things they may need to give up that distract from their goal and lead by example. Be their cheerleader when they realize they may need to try something new and challenging. Break down the plan into less intimidating chunks such as: items to accomplish this week, this month, and by goal date. First steps may be as simple as researching on the internet. Discuss how your student would like you to help them stay on track with their resolution and how you would like them to help you stay on track with yours. After all, you are doing this together! An example may be taking an Art Class. To begin they could research Art Classes in the area. They could contact different locations to find out which ones provide scholarships. They would have to plan for transportation and possibly give up some of their hangout time with friends. Once enrolled encourage your student to create a portfolio of their work as a monument to their success. Together celebrate each achievement, resolve to overcome set backs, bathe the process in prayer, and watch the God-given potential in you and your student be unleashed!
Want some more ideas?
1. Look in your community for free/low-cost activities you and your student can do together. We have a list of current activities here.
Below are some other links you can follow to get you started.
2. There are many things you can do at or around your home too! Here are some examples:
- Bake or Cook a Meal
- Build Something (Hobby items, Carpentry, etc..)
- Exercise Together (Walk, Swim, Tennis, Basketball etc…)
- Read a Book Together
- Plant a Garden or Tree
- Paint or Draw Together
- Play Catch
3. Here are some links to websites with more great ideas for Developing Assets with your students.
These are just some ideas to get you started.
Please let us know if you find something we don’t know about! email@example.com
Asset #1, Family Support – Family support provides high levels of love and support.
Your mentee find their greatest encouragement and support, from their parents or guardian, aunts and uncles, grandparents and siblings. The search institute found that the national average of youth having asset #1, is 64%.
As a mentor you can call or write parents and give them suggestions to always give their children positive support and encouragement through communication and with building their planning and decision making skills.
Encourage parents to set aside at least one evening per week for family activities. Research and make suggestion of family recreations that the community offers that support both parent and family.
Reading for pleasure – Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
Here are some helpful tips;
· Bring them to look for books at garage sales, rummage sales, and second hand store.
· Ask your mentee to recommend a favorite book of theirs and you read the book and later discuss the character’s values.
· Give a book or magazine for them to read as a gift.
· Take a current event from an article in the newspaper, magazine or off the internet and you read together and discuss the event as it relates to each of you, what would God say, what would you say and what would they say?