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Mentoring and Tutoring

How does Mentoring and Tutoring Differ?
       Both mentoring and tutoring activities involve promoting achievement, and instilling positive attitudes in children, adolescents, and adults.

      Tutoring is a term used in academic circles for assisting individuals who are behind in their studies or are having problems acquiring the concepts in a large group environment. A tutor must have a proficiency in the subject matter.

      Mentoring children, adolescents, and adults is widely used by many organizations, such as boy and girl scouts, big brothers and sisters, sports coaches, etc.,  Adults offer a substitute for missing mothers and dads. They provide companionship and set an example that hopefully inspires the mentee through exposure to opportunities to improve life skills.

      A mentor serves as an example to emulate. They come from all sorts of backgrounds, but their character and ethical qualities are shared by all. The desire to help others far out weighs any academic credentials. Their career paths may have taken different directions, but their willingness to take the time to help others is not profit motivated.

      This is especially important for those children who reside in single parent households as they can be provided with an example of a male or female role that would be otherwise missing as they transition from childhood to being an adult.
There are Many Different Ways to Act as a Mentor
     There is no one formula to successfully mentor others; however, there are basic guidelines you can follow:

     The following are suggestions for establishing respect and a two way dialog:
  • Be believable: Each mentor represents a form of reality based on his/her own beliefs. These beliefs usually are a reflection of of the organization they are affiliated with. The ideal match of mentor and  child should ideally have as many things in common as possible. Ideally the mentor should not attempt to convert the child to another religious belief or otherwise alienate them from their cultural and ethnicity.
  • Mentoring and Tutoring are different: Mentoring involves providing a positive example of life skills. Tutoring involves teaching a student specific information and problem solving skills that relate to specific education courses such as math, science, English, etc.
  • Be alert in spotting self deception: Many individual deceive themselves in order to escape from facing real problems that are causing them distress. They subconsciously avoid facing their fears. Some individuals may require professional counseling because they are source of their problem. Mentoring or tutoring requires that you are observant and are able to spot when self deception limits your effectiveness.
  • Show them how to confront reality: This is difficult to achieve, but if done correctly, the results can result in a tremendous amount of improvement. It takes training to point out what is reality instead of the fantasy world the individual resides in. This also can be exceedingly painful as it destroys the individual's comfort zone requiring their reality to be slowly rebuild on a solid foundation based of facts and objectiveness.
  • Provide motivation to make changes:  The degree we are able to successful implement depends on establishing a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Don't make the mistake of attempting to motivate others without first showing them the pathway to make changes. Sometimes it is desirable to provide several options of available solutions to solve the problem so they can participate in the decision of how to proceed. When an individual "Buys in" to the solution, they will be more likely to put forth the necessary effort to complete the tasks.
Conduct a Self Examination of Yourself
       Every individuals who is considering becoming a mentor or tutor should understand why they are considering becoming involved in this area of public service. They should talk with people who are a mentor or tutor to can gain an insight in what is required intellectually and emotionally.

       Mentoring: Leading  by example provides the best opportunity to be a positive influence. It is very helpful to have examples of positive and negative life experiences that you can share so that it is easier for individuals to understand the principles that you believe in.

       A mentor requires that you are able to relate to others so you can provide personal motivation and encouragement. The process should be very uplifting and inspiring, but not a Sunday sermon.

       Mentoring is a power free, two-way mutually beneficial learning situation where the mentor provides advice, shares knowledge and experiences, and teaches using a low pressure, self-discovery approach.

       Tutoring: As a tutor you must be very well versed in your subject matter. In addition, you must be able to listen and determine exactly where your student is not able to grasp the concept and underlying principles of problem solving. In the real world their is no teacher's edition with the correct answers.

      You must emphasize that the student is able to demonstrate the steps to arrive at a solution. Do not rely only on a correct answer to assess the knowledge and comprehension of the subject matter as the process of acquiring the answer can be terribly flawed. Such flaws can have disastrous consequences in the real world!

      Being a tutor requires problem solving skills to discover what the student's basic problem for their lack of understanding. Without this ability it is extremely hard to institute solutions to correct the learning problem(s). If you only know only how to lecture, you are not suitable to be a tutor.

      It is vital for the tutor to inspire confidence in the student that they can learn the material. Not every student acquires information in the same way. Different approaches must be taken as the student should not be hindered by a tutor's lack of communication skills.
Most Individuals who need help lack self confidence
      Making changes in a person's outlook is the key in their being receptive to new ideas and ways of approaching things like study habits, scheduling activities, place priorities on tasks, and staying on task rather than skipping to another task when they experience difficulties.

     Learning how to assess a problem is the first step of analysis and proposing solutions.  This may be extremely foreign to the individual, but it is the essence of problem solving.

    The next step is for the individual to acquire the research tools and skills to acquire the information to put into action the solution they are testing. 

     Provide simple examples of problem solving and gradually increase the difficulty and complexity of the problems.

     Always keep in mind that the challenges facing a mentor or tutor can generate considerable rewards in return for the time and energy expended to make positive changes in a child's life.

Recommended Reading:

Mentoring is a tool that organizations can use to nurture and grow their people. It can be an informal practice or a formal program.

How to mentor someone   July 23, 2008 ... Is there anything better than spotting someone relatively inexperienced but smart, driven, and generally awesome, and helping them along.

Mentors and Mentoring: Being a Mentor  There is little that can give you the satisfaction of being a mentor. Mentoring: what is a mentor, finding a mentor, how to be a mentor.

How to Mentor a Child   When you choose to mentor a child, you accept an important role in a young person's life. A mentor is a guide,

PDF How to Build A Successful Mentoring Program Elements

Tutoring  A tutor provides expertise, experience, and encouragement. They do not provide ... Tutors should not be expected to diagnose learning disabilities.

How to be a good tutor  A variety of tasks and ways of responding to tasks helps prevent tutees and tutors from losing interest. Different kinds of questioning have very different effects.


Learning Topics:

What's the difference between Tutor and Mentor? Mentor is a wise and trusted guide and advisor. They may be a teacher, trusted counselor, minister, or family friend). A tutor is a person who gives private instruction (academic studies, singing, acting, etc.)

PDF Academic Tutoring and Mentoring - A literature Review  Reasons for Student Participation as Mentors and Tutors. . youth mentoring efforts, Making A Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

What is the difference between a mentor and a tutor?

Coaching & Mentoring: Is there a difference? A resounding YES came from responses to this open-ended question: Is there a difference between a mentor, coach, and supervisor?


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Levels of Skating Skills 
Modifying Patterns of Behaviors
Role of Sleep in Athletic Performance
Identifying & Reacting to Moods
PDF  Planning Special Olympic Season
          USFS Special Olympics
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The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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