As well as one-to-one tuition, homeschooling and evening classes through our Nightschooler program, we also offer Minerva Mentors. Mentoring has become increasingly popular as a way to help children develop personally, or address difficulties that may stem from outside the classroom. This week we spoke to Scott, our resident Minerva Mentor, who has loads of experience mentoring children in and around London.
Hey Scott, so tell me – what exactly does a mentor do?
We lend a helping hand to parents who wish to give their children a boost for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s confidence building, social skills or combatting the effects of bullying, we’ll adapt to any situation. Getting a mentor can be a powerful personal development tool that can enable the child to become more confident and move towards realising and achieving their goals.
The role of a mentor is multi-faceted. It can be formal or informal, and may change or evolve with the needs of the mentee. A mentor can be a role model, coach, sounding board, voice of reason, emotional support, a trusted resource or even simply a companion and friend.
Would you say it’s like tutoring, but for the extra-curricular rather than academic, or do you think it’s something more?
I think it’s something more, purely because emotions are much more involved with mentoring, i.e. lack of confidence, insecurities, etc. It’s so important to approach these kinds of things with caution, as they are often sensitive subjects and can be hard to talk about. We don’t talk about them enough in fact.
Being bad at maths isn’t as hard to talk about as being insecure about your weight. Being with them all day, you’re constantly teaching them the ways of the world, making sure they’re always happy, as well as showing them ways to maintain this where you’re not there. And with that, you hope that this helps them towards achieving their goals.
What’s your typical day as a mentor?
Picking the pupil up from their home; if they are a phone addict, I would then confiscate their phone from them immediately (helping them realise that the real world is far more important than the digital world!). Then off on our day around London! Sometimes a day might also include a workshop or other fun educational activity.
What sort of places have you been to while mentoring?
We’ll often go to museums or art galleries and other famous London attractions, but one of the best places I’ve been to with a pupil is the Orbit Slide in the Olympic Park. It was mind-blowing! He wasn’t scared at all but I was absolutely terrified. It’s the world’s tallest, longest and fastest tunnel slide! It was the pupil that was mentoring me for a change, telling me ‘don’t worry, the slide will hold you!’ which I thought was very sweet, as I was genuinely petrified and he was loving it. Never heard so much laughter from a child, laughing at their mentor. But of course, wherever we go, I always make sure they’re always safe, hydrated, fed, and most importantly having fun!
What positive changes have you seen in your mentees?
I had one pupil at the beginning of the Summer who was with me for two weeks. He was pretty shy when I first met him, and he didn’t really want to talk to me whenever I tried to, so he would go straight on his phone and keep his head down. For those 2 weeks, we hung out, went around London and gradually got to know each other a bit more, and just through doing that, at the end of the two weeks he was never on his phone, and always wanted to say something to me. And he’d suddenly become this very smart, witty and engaging 11 year old boy. He was standing up on the tube and giving up his seat for older people. So it was always in him, it was just about finding it and giving him the confidence to open up.
For you, what is the best thing about being a mentor?
Honestly, hanging out with the kids and getting to know them. It’s weird but they kind of bring me back to Earth a little bit, and they often come up with anecdotes and ideas that far more intelligent than I can come with. I find it hilarious because of how smart they are and it’s just so fascinating to be around.
What is the funniest thing that’s happened while you’ve been a Minerva mentor?
Haha, Amazing. Thanks Scott!
By David Bard
David is a Minerva Pro Tutor who specialises in humanities subjects at A Level and is a trained expert in the 7 + and 11 + exams. Outside of tutoring, David writes blogs about creative writing and everything that’s trending in education.