The Youth Mentoring Network


Core programme elements

Orientation and Training

Before commencing a mentoring relationship, prospective mentors, mentees and their parents/caregivers will need training in the basic knowledge, attitudes and skills required to build a safe and effective relationship.

For mentors, the initial orientation and training session may form part of the safety checking and selection process. This allows potential mentors an opportunity to learn more about the programme, what is expected of mentors, and help them make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with their application. This initial training also provides an opportunity for programme staff to observe and learn more about potential mentors to determine their suitability.

For mentees, the orientation session gives the young person an opportunity to learn more about the programme and what will be expected of them in the relationship. It should outline their roles and responsibilities in language that is appropriate for their age. This knowledge can contribute significantly to the success of the relationship and empower the young person to feel this relationship is equal, rather than just another adult entering their life telling them what to do.

Parental support of the mentoring relationship can greatly increase the likelihood of success and positive outcomes for the young person (Taylor & Porcellini, 2014).

A clear understanding of everyone’s role can help reduce anxiety regarding what things are appropriate and not appropriate for each party to do in the mentoring relationship.

Activities include:

  • Mentor orientation and training
  • Mentee orientation and training
  • Guidance for parents/caregivers
  • Post-match training
  • Programme staff training

Refer to Section 5.3 of the Guide: NZYMN Effective Practice Guide_Orientation and Training

You may also find this checklist useful: NZYMN Effective and Safe Practice in Youth Mentoring_Orientation and Training Checklist 

Further advice

Initial training

Orientation of volunteer adult mentors could take place in different ways e.g., with a group of potential mentors, or as part of a face-to-face interview. Whichever method is used, it must take place prior to the completion of the written application forms.

Generally the orientation process provides an opportunity for volunteers to:

  • Gain an overview of the mentoring programme and how it operates
  • Understand their roles and responsibilities
  • Hear about the mentor training programme and attendance requirements
  • Understand the level of commitment expected (time to meet with mentees; things to do; how often they will meet; ongoing training and supervision policies and procedures)
  • Become familiar with programme procedures such as the screening process
  • Hear about any benefits and rewards for mentors, reimbursements etc.
  • Ask any other questions or discuss any concerns they might have about the mentor programme

Ongoing training

Effective youth mentoring programmes are encouraged to offer ongoing structured training programme for mentors, young people and caregivers/parents (where applicable). This training could include:

  • A general discussion about how to handle a variety of situations that might occur during the mentoring journey
  • Ideas and strategies on how to build a meaningful mentoring relationship.

The best preparation of volunteer adult mentors for the mentoring journey is the provision of a thorough training programme prior to the match. Mentor training programmes will be designed to meet the specific requirements of the particular youth mentoring programme being offered. When training is part of the screening process, programme staff have the opportunity to learn more about potential mentors.

Where mentors are mentoring high risk young people with anti-social behaviour tendencies, the training is likely to be longer and more in-depth.

Some important topics effective mentor training programmes should cover might include:

  • Becoming a mentor - qualities of effective mentors; mentoring different age groups; confidentiality issues; establishing boundaries and ground rules; different stages in a mentoring relationship; clarifying the role of the mentor in a particular programme
  • Goal setting and effective management of time skills - realistic goal setting skills aimed at encouraging a young person to reach his or her potential, educational or career goals
  • Strategies to build a young person's self-efficacy and self-confidence; resiliency - identifying a young person's strengths
  • Effective communication strategies
  • Effective management of conflicts
  • Diversity training - preparing mentors for cross-cultural relationships; mentoring young people from high risk environments; valuing diversity and being sensitive to different cultures and faiths
  • Gaining ideas on what to do with mentees during the mentoring journey e.g., the development of life skills; doing fun activities together; working with a mentee's family (whanau); linking mentees to other support groups and agencies within the community
  • Discussing mentoring with past and present mentors and mentees

The ongoing training of mentors is regarded as key to the development of effective mentoring relationships.