As the school year continues to wind down, we are taking the month of May to talk about how we can care for the students we mentor.
…Students are more likely to listen to the adults in their lives if they know we care about them first.
Hopefully by now, your student already knows that you care about them. But, this month, we’re sharing four practical ways that you can care for your student as the school year winds down. And, to make it easy to remember, we’ve turned those four ways into an acronym.
So, here you go. Here are the four ways you can care for your student this month:
This week, let’s focus on that word “AFFIRM.”
Affirm is a word that can mean different things in different contexts, so let’s be clear first on what meaning we have in mind here.
To affirm your student means “to support them by giving approval, recognition, or encouragement.”*
As we said last week, this has been a challenging school year for students. Many of their “normal” high school experiences and routines have been upended by the pandemic. And, as we reflect on those challenges with our students, we can either choose to focus on the negatives or the positives.
In other words, we can either choose to feed their feelings of fear, discouragement, hopelessness, and loss. Or, we can affirm those feelings, and at the same time, help them see the positives in the midst of the challenges they faced.
As a mentor, you know your student better than I do. You know what specific challenges they faced this year, and how they dealt with them (and overcame them). Now is a great time to recognize those things with your student and to encourage them. For example, you can…
Recognize the challenges of online/hybrid school and encourage them for sticking it out.
Recognize the challenges of caring for younger siblings at home while their parents went to work, and affirm their sacrifice.
Recognize the challenges of extracurricular activities being cancelled or significantly impacted and affirm their resilience.
Whatever you do, take some time at the end of the school year to both recognize the challenges your student faced and encourage them by helping them see the positives in the midst of the challenges.
And, don’t forget to check back next week for another practical way that you can care for your student as this school year winds down!
*Source of definition: Dictionary.com.
Jason Matthews is a youth pastor in Washington State, where he’s been serving students for over 20 years. When he doesn’t have to be in the office, he loves to be outside with his family, hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest. He also loves to network with other youth workers.