Nine schools in the Washington D.C. area participate in a reading project entitled “Readers are Leaders.”  This program enables older elementary school students to get together with a younger student during lunch or recess to do some one-on-one reading. The program proclaims success; students have been more enthusiastic about reading!

Why Have Older Boys Mentor Younger Boys?

There are benefits for both the older and younger student. Benefits for the older student include:
  • Helping him develop confidence.
  • Giving him a chance to develop reading aloud skills.
  • Getting him thinking about books: what types of books his “mentee” might enjoy, what books they could share together.
  • Giving him a sense of responsibility.
  • Giving him a sense of rapport with his teachers.
  • Being a part of a small reading community.
 Benefits for the younger student include:
  • Developing a sense of security and trust with an older male student.
  • Initiating a desire to please the older student by performing well when reading.
  • Working toward the goal of someday being a mentor to his own younger student.
  • Getting great practice reading fun and interesting reading material.
  • Being a part of a small reading community.

Starting a Student Mentoring Program

Student mentoring programs can be district wide, school-wide, or even just a collaboration of one teacher and another. If you are interested in starting a mentoring program at your school, it’s a great idea to get together with a teacher in an higher or lower grade level to test the program. If it has great success rates, contact your supervisors to try and get the program more wide-spread.

Keys to a successful student mentoring program include:

·        Proper training for the mentors.
·        A consistent, regular reading schedule for the reading partners.
·        An ample supply of boy-friendly reading materials.
·        A careful matching of younger and older kids.
·        A journal where teacher and mentors can record progress.
·        Occasional activities besides reading that partners can enjoy together.

Questions for You…

Have you had experience supervising a student mentor program? How did it help each participant? What were some of the drawbacks? Do you have suggestions as to how to make a student mentoring program successful?

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