Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to Motivate Your Mentee with their Schoolwork

 Mentors to young people often play a role in motivating students to do their best in school. Mentoring can improve mentees' attitudes toward school achievement and bolster their belief in their academic ability, according to youth development experts Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick.
Manza and Patrick, authors of The Mentor's Field Guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed, write, "Your belief in your mentees and your encouragement can help them to be more willing to make the effort to do well." Mentoring can also increase mentees' aspiration for their future, and when they have goals they would like to achieve, they are more likely to appreciate the role education plays in attaining them.
The following tips, offered by Manza and Patrick, can help mentees see that working hard in school has many benefits:
  • Be specific when talking about school success: turn in assignments on time, actively participate in class, ask for help when needed.
  • Ask what books your mentee is reading; you may have read some of the same books when you were young.
  • Help your mentee engage in problem solving about issues that arise at school.
  • Provide specific help with schoolwork, making sure that you stay in the role as "guide," not "doer."
  • If your mentee claims to not care about school, find out why. Does she believe she isn't smart enough to do well? Does he think he can't afford college?
Keep in mind that academic-related encouragement should not come at the expense of the relationship you are striving to develop with a mentee. Deciding how to help your mentee academically and how involved to get will depend on the wishes of parents, suggestions from teachers, and direction from your mentoring program.

Taken with permission from: The Mentor's Field Guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed, by Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick

For more information on Kids 'n Kinship, check out our website:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters

Each January our nation celebrates National Mentoring Month.  Kids 'n Kinship uses this month in particular to focus on the need for mentors, as well as how each of us –individuals, businesses, local government, schools, faith communities, and non-profits –  can join together to increase the number of mentors and assure brighter futures for youth.

There is a powerful mentoring effect demonstrated by research and the experiences of young people who are connected to a mentor. Mentoring is linked to improved academic, social and economic prospects and ultimately strengthens our community.
Research has shown that when matched through a quality mentoring program, mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible decisions, stay focused and be more engaged in school.
This same report found that one in three young people in our country will grow up without a mentor. Today in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, & Rosemount there are 63 kids on our waiting list who could benefit from having a Kinship mentor.
Mentoring relationships are basic human connections that let a young person know that they matter. Mentors frequently report back that their relationships make them feel like someone who matters in another person’s life.
As we focus on engaging more community members in volunteering as mentors, we will share a simple message: “Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters”.
Our community’s future rests on the hopes and dreams of our children and youth.
From Kinship Partners blog -
For more information about mentoring and Kids 'n Kinship, go to

Thursday, December 11, 2014

In Memory of Carol Frick

Carol & Dick Frick with Jan Belmore in 2002
It is with great sadness that we announce that Carol Frick, Kids ‘n Kinship founder, passed away on December 8th, 2014. Carol and her husband Dick started the program in 1972 and because of them thousands of children and youth have benefited from a caring adult mentor. Carol was a truly giving person, who, although she retired from Kids ‘n Kinship 22 years ago, still volunteered helping the program up to the week she died.  Since her retirement from the program, Carol made sure youth received a birthday card and assisted the program with paperwork and newsletter mailings. Carol was a beloved friend and supporter of Kids ‘n Kinship. She will be deeply missed and we are all very grateful that she had the foresight and determination to begin the program.
Carol was honored at the program’s 40th anniversary in 2012 with a piece of artwork
made from fingerprints of the children in the program.

Carol Frick (on the right) with Jan Belmore, Kids 'n Kinship board members

Friday, December 5, 2014

Excited for winter sports like sledding and skiing? So is Christopher!

A mentor match having a blast sledding together
Kids 'n Kinship matches volunteers with youth for fun and enriching activities like sledding, skiing, skating, and snowboarding and other fun outings.  Volunteers (individuals, couples, and families) meet weekly with a child and provide supportive friendship.  We currently have 63 youth waiting for a mentor. Are they waiting for you?

Here's one youth waiting for a new friend:

First Name: Christopher

Age:  8

Interests:  Christopher enjoys gym & sports (soccer, hockey, football, & lacrosse).  He also likes playing games, watching movies, doing math homework, scrapbooking, going to waterparks, skating, & skiing.

Personality/Characteristics:  He is friendly, talkative and active.  He lives with his mom and 4 other siblings, whom he admits he pesters and fights with.

Goals/Dreams:  His wish is for his very own Zamboni!  He would love to have an individual or couple mentor him so he can have fun.

Interested in finding out more about mentoring and Kids 'n Kinship?  Attend our next information session on Tuesday Dec. 9th, 6-6:45 pm at the Burnhaven Library in Burnsville.  RSVP to  Learn more on our website or by calling 952-892-6368.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mentor Training Last Night!

Last night Kids 'n Kinship hosted a chat group training for mentors in which we discussed the effects of chronic stress on youth, survival mode, and tips for working with youth and families.  12 mentors attended and shared their experiences with each other.  We had a wonderful discussion which helped mentors have empathy for the youth and families we work with.

In our discussion, mentors shared some great ideas:
*One mentor keeps a gratitude journal with her mentee, where they thank each other for their time together and they fun they have
*Another mentors recommends writing thank you cards for everything as it encourages youth to be thankful and to express it with her also
* Another mentor brought her photo book and everyone loved it as something for mentees to show their friends/family and show off their mentor, as well as to capture fun experiences they've had

Want to learn more about mentoring a child in Dakota County?  Go to for more information.  Our next information session is Thursday Nov. 20th, 6-6:45 pm at the Wescott Library in Eagan.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Mentors Can Help Youth Develop Assets

Key Principles of Asset Building
Below are some general principles you can use to help your mentee (or any young person in your life) successfully build Developmental Assets.
  • Everyone can help young people build assets- not just parents, teachers, and people with college degrees in child and youth development. Whether you are an electrician or a singer, you have the power to be a positive influence in the life of a young person.
  • All young people need assets. Search Institute’s research shows that almost all young people need more assets than they have. Young people may have lots of friends or achieve high marks in school, but they may be lacking in other areas. Mentors can help them identify strengths and build the assets that are missing in their lives.
  • Relationships are key. Strong relationships between adults and young people, between young people and their peers, and between teenagers and children are central to building assets. As a mentor, you have a significant opportunity to make a difference in your mentee’s life, just by being there for him.
  • Asset building is an ongoing process. It starts when a child is born and continues through high school and beyond. It’s never too late to start building assets with and for your mentee, regardless of her age or what her life has been like up until now.
  • Consistent messages are important. It is important for families, schools, and communities, and others to give young people consistent and similar messages about what is important and what is expected of them. Mentors can play a critical role in exposing young people to positive messages, values, and examples; these messages can be modeled in action by the way you live your life and the way you and your mentee interact with each other and the world around you.
  • Intentional repetition is important. Assets must be continually reinforced across the years and in all areas of a young person’s life. As a significant adult in your mentee’s life, you have a great opportunity to continually reinforce the positive messages and experiences he needs throughout his young life-and beyond.
  • Remember that the focus of mentoring is on forming a relationship and being a positive adult role model. What you do during your regular visits with your mentee matters less than the fact that you are spending time together and providing your mentee with support and care.
  • Show your mentee that she is a priority by keeping in touch on a regular basis. Even if you cannot be together very often, write letters, send cards, talk on the phone, or send e-mail or text messages.
  • Let your mentee know that you care about things that are important to him. For example, if your mentee has a special friend or pet, ask regularly about how he is doing. If your mentee plays a sport, attend a game or match. If he sings or plays an instrument, ask for a personal recital once in a while.
  • Be flexible. If your mentee has ideas about things to do or ways to do them, let her take the lead. You don’t need a careful plan to build assets.
  • Get to know your mentee’s interests and hobbies. Help him find opportunities to get involved with organized activities or programs that use or develop those interests of hobbies.
  • Talk about and model your personal values. Encourage your mentee to think about the values that are important to her and how those values affect behavior and decisions.
  • Share a new experience together, such as fishing, visiting a local museum (some have days when entrance fees are waived or reduces), taking a class, eating at a new restaurant, or flying a kite.
  • Practice life skills together. For example, prepare a meal together and serve it to your mentee’s family or friends.
  • Emphasize the importance of a lifelong commitment to learning. Go to the library together and check out books to read together. Help your mentee with homework or find someone who can.
  • Talk about some of your hopes and plans for the future and ask about your mentee’s vision of the future. Share ideas with each other about how you can make your respective dreams come true. If it seems as if your dreams can’t or won’t come true, work together to come up with ways to deal with barriers.
  • Enjoy your time together and have fun!
Reprinted with permission from Search Institute®. From Mentoring for Meaningful Results: Asset-Building Tips, Tools, and Activities for Youth and Adults. Copyright © 2008 Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN; 800-888-7828; All rights reserved.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kids 'n Kinship Participants Had a Blast at the Pool Party!

49 Kids 'n Kinship youth, mentors, and their families attended the Pool Party at the MN Valley YMCA last Sunday, Nov. 2nd.  They enjoyed swimming in the pool, doing a craft, and some scrapbooking.  Youth also were able to pick out several books from a generous donation by Barnes & Noble!  Thanks to our sponsor Thrivent Financial for Lutherans for providing such a fun event!

For more information on Kids 'n Kinship and youth mentoring in Dakota County, go to  Our calendar lists dates for upcoming information sessions - the next one is Thurs. Nov. 20th, 6-6:45 pm at the Wescott Library in Eagan.