When my daughter was in elementary school at our local Adventist Academy, she had a senior mentor as part of the Partnering For Eternity program. The Partnering for Eternity scholarship program has been helping cultivate relationships between mentors and students at Adventist academies and elementary schools since 2006. We had such a great experience with her senior mentor; it was an invaluable program.
As children grow up, it's important for them to have positive role models and mentors to guide them through life. While parents, teachers and peers can all play important roles in shaping a child's development, there's one group that often gets overlooked: seniors. Having a senior mentor can be incredibly beneficial for kids in a variety of ways, from learning new skills to gaining a deeper appreciation for the past.
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31).
Learning from experience
One of the main benefits of having a senior mentor is the opportunity to learn from their wealth of experience. Seniors have lived through decades of ups and downs and have valuable insights to share about everything from relationships to career paths. They can offer practical advice based on their own successes and failures, and help kids navigate life's challenges with greater confidence. My daughter often told her senior mentor what she was struggling with in school and with friends and she received such great advice.
“I will satisfy him with long life, and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:16).
Building intergenerational connections
In today's fast-paced world, it's all too easy for different generations to live in their own bubbles. Having a senior mentor can break down these barriers and build connections across generations. Kids can learn about the past and gain a deeper appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of those who came before them. Meanwhile, seniors can feel valued and appreciated and gain a renewed sense of purpose by passing on their knowledge and wisdom to the next generation. My daughter’s senior mentor doesn’t have a granddaughter, so it was special for her to share experiences with Bella over the course of two school years.
Developing new skills
Seniors are often skilled in a wide range of areas, from cooking to woodworking to storytelling. By spending time with a senior mentor, kids can learn new skills that may not be taught in school or at home. These skills can be practical, such as learning how to cook a traditional family recipe, or creative, such as picking up a new hobby like painting or embroidery. My daughter and her senior mentor did fun things like plant flowers, bake dessert bars and make their own wrapping paper.
“So teach us to count our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Boosting confidence and self-esteem
Having a positive role model in their life can do wonders for a child's self-esteem and confidence. A senior mentor can offer words of encouragement, praise and guidance, helping kids feel more confident in their abilities and more secure in their sense of self. By providing a listening ear and a non-judgmental perspective, a senior mentor can also help kids work through feelings of self-doubt or anxiety.
“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalms 33:11).
Encouraging a lifelong love of learning
Finally, having a senior mentor can encourage kids to be lifelong learners. By exposing them to new ideas, experiences and perspectives, seniors can ignite curiosity and thirst for knowledge that lasts well into adulthood. This can lead to a love of reading, a passion for history or a desire to explore new cultures and ideas. My daughter and her senior mentor had a book club and built a little free library for our block.
Having a senior mentor can be incredibly beneficial for kids. It offers an opportunity to learn from experience, build intergenerational connections, develop new skills, boost confidence and self-esteem and encourage a lifelong love of learning. Whether it's a grandparent, a neighbor or a volunteer at a local senior center, finding a senior mentor can be a truly rewarding experience for both kids and seniors alike. I encourage you to find a mentor in your neighborhood or church.