This month, we’re focusing on four powerful ways we can make the most of the hour we spend with the students we mentor. If you are a Be the One mentor, you know the power of one hour. One hour a week one-on-one with a student doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a worthwhile investment of time. And, if you make the most of it, it truly is powerful. As mentors, we simply cannot underestimate the power of presence in students’ lives.
(For more on the power of presence, check out last week’s Mentor Minute!)
This week, we want to take a minute to talk about the power of play. When we incorporate play into our mentoring relationships, we do more than just win or lose.
We bring fun. If you haven’t incorporated play yet, ask your student what games they like to play the next time you meet together. And then be ready for anything! You may find yourself downloading a game on your phone to play together or sitting at a table playing a card game or finding a ball and heading to the gym. Games and play are a great way to bring fun into your mentoring relationships, but that’s just the beginning.
We build camaraderie. When we leverage the power of play in our mentoring relationships, we lay the foundation for making a deep, long-lasting impact in students’ lives. Playing together is a shared experience that builds trust. There is something unique about play that breaks down walls and “levels the playing field” with students. When you learn a new game (or introduce one of your favorites), you’re communicating that you value each other’s interests, which opens the door for deeper conversations.
We bring healthy distraction. Sometimes, students just need an hour to decompress or to get their focus off of whatever stressors they are facing. The power of play can be a healthy distraction that lowers their stress levels and gives them something to look forward to when they feel overwhelmed. Playing together can be the kind of safe space they need to give their minds a break. And, you may even find them opening up more about whatever stressors they are facing as they play.
However, you end up incorporating play into your mentoring relationships, don’t underestimate the value it can bring as you seek to make a lasting impact.
Together, we can make a difference in students’ lives today, and a powerful investment in our communities that will last for years to come. Check back next week for another powerful way we can make the most of the hour we spend with the students we mentor.
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.