Looking at the commitment to learning | PostIndependent.com

Looking at the commitment to learning

Lindsay Lofaro
The Buddy Program

Continuing on the theme of reviewing the eight Developmental Assets — strengths that all youth should have, according to research done by the Search Institute of Minnesota — this article focuses on the “Commitment to Learning” asset.

One of the first things we tell our Big Buddies when they come to our mentor training is that they are not a tutor. The next thing we tell them is that one of our four goals at the Buddy Program is to improve each Little Buddy’s attitude and interest in school by being matched with a mentor. The juxtaposition of these two statements may cause you to scratch your head, so let me explain more.

The youth we work with have teachers, parents and sometimes counselors and tutors all telling them what to do and when and how to do it. Instead, we see each Big Buddy as a friend and companion to each Little Buddy — someone to show up when he says he will and acknowledge the child’s need for fun. Whether the Buddy Pair meets in the school or in the community, we want their relationship to be built on mutual interests and activities.

We also see our Big Buddies as key players in encouraging and cultivating the student’s attitude about school. As the mentor and student form a bond, that Big Buddy will play a role in encouraging their Little Buddy to succeed at school. Oftentimes our school-based (adult) and peer-to-peer (high school student) Big Buddies, who see their Little Buddies weekly at school, may be the one bright spot in the student’s day or week; they can help facilitate the “bonding to school” component that is critical for a young person to be committed to learning, according to the Search Institute. Our LEAD program takes Commitment to Learning to a new level through our outdoor leadership classes at Roaring Fork High School and Carbondale Middle School. Students learn critical life skills through outdoor issues and experiences. Our program director who teaches these classes is the mentor to these students, encouraging and motivating them to succeed at school in order to succeed in life.

So while our mentors are not tutors or teachers, the role they play in the lives of our youth and, specifically, in these youths’ commitment to school, cannot be underestimated. As parents we can model commitment to learning ourselves by helping our children stay motivated and engaged in school, ensuring homework is a priority, looking for ways our children can “bond” to school and introducing reading for pleasure to our children.

To find out more about how you can become a mentor and help a young person commit to learning, call the Buddy Program at 927-1001 (Aspen to Carbondale) or visit http://www.buddyprogram.org. For more information on mentoring youth from Glenwood to Rifle, call Youth Zone at 945-9300.

For more information on the Search Institute and Developmental Assets visit http://www.searchinstitute.org.


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