High School and College Mentor Program

This program was developed for children with special needs and delivered by high school and college students to address practical, real-time needs that arise for some children and adolescents who may struggle with any of the following:

  • Social interactions and fitting in
  • Comfort in larger community settings
  • Committing to any exercise and outdoor time
  • For those students who may be feeling isolated and lonely
  • For those who have not yet found effective study and organizational systems
  • For those students who have not found success with targeting areas of interest or branching out and finding activities they might enjoy

Skills that may be focused on include:

  • Going out to a meal
  • Getting a work out in
  • Going for a hike or walk
  • Chatting at home or choosing an activity to complete
  • Hanging out with a student and one of his/her friends
  • Going to the mall
  • Trying a new venture
  • Organizing homework, projects, and tests week by week

How it works

We very carefully screen potential high school and college students who have an interest in child development, psychology, and/or being peer role models and leaders.  Because high school and college students are very busy themselves, we make sure that the handful of students who are judiciously selected can commit to at least one time a week to spend with their peer buddy.  They also check in weekly with Dr. Biesman to brainstorm ways to best encourage and mentor the student who is being seen.

The following are some examples of how time is spent (usually 1-2 hours per week) between the mentors and mentees:

  • Initiating and sustaining conversation
  • Personal awareness
  • Developing independence
  • Problem-solving
  • Learning organizational tools
  • Self-monitoring
  • Joint attention and social engagement
  • Navigating peer interactions
  • Developing comfort in group setting

Giving Back… We are strong believers in paying it forward. In this spirit, we volunteer our time to mentor the mentors.  For parents, it is a creative way to get in-home and community support for a child.  For high school students, it is a unique opportunity to support another, to develop empathy and patience, to think creatively in the moment, to be leaders and role models, and to learn about individual differences that people have.