I. Need for an after-school mentoring program
The purpose of an after-school mentoring program for underprivileged children is to help children seek their full potential and become equipped with the tools and resources they need to succeed in life. Many underprivileged children come from families who have not finished high school or sought a post-secondary education, which will cause them to have lower income jobs and could potentially lead their children to fall in the same footsteps. Unfortunately, dropout rates of 16 to 24 year old students who come from low income families are seven times more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes (Kewal Ramani).
This is why it is very important to have resources for these children to have and use, because they may not know where else to get them from. Due to the number of children coming from bad family lives, the first objective of this ministry is to provide a safe and loving environment that the children can thrive in. The first goal in accomplishing this is to surround the children with kind and loving volunteers and people who strive to see these children succeed at everything that they put their mind to. This goal is very important, because if the children know that they are loved and feel safe then they will be more productive as well as more willing to listen and behave to others.
A second objective of the after-school mentoring program is to help and encourage children with their homework and reading comprehension skills. Nearly half of low-income children start first-grade up to two years behind their peers (Brizius). The first goal with helping the children would be to set up a supervised homework period. This will allow young adults and adults assist the children in completing their homework, while encouraging them every step of the way. The second goal would be to create a reading program for the children to abide by every day. “Unfortunately, children in low-income families lack essential one-on-one reading time.
A recent report by the Packard and MacArthur Foundations found that the average child growing up in a middle class family has been exposed to 1,000 to 1,700 hours of one-on-one picture book reading. The average child growing up in a low-income family, in contrast, has only been exposed to 25 hours of one-on-one reading” (McQuillan). This reading program would allow the children to read an age appropriate book to a volunteer. This will allow the volunteer to assist the child with pronouncing difficult words or phrases.
2. Unique Challenges of an after-school mentoring program for underprivileged children There are several challenges that are common when working with underprivileged children. One major challenge is learning the individual needs of the children. “As every child is different, it is important to think about, plan for, and interact with the individual, as well as the group as a whole” (Meeting Patients’ Individual Needs). Each child has a different home life, background, and religious viewpoint. Even though it may be difficult, it is very important to learn the individual needs of the children in order to build strong relationships with them. Another challenge is learning when situations are severe enough to report to Child Protective Services (CPS).
This is very important because if you are falsely accusing the parents, you will risk the opportunity to bond and reach out to their families. Also, if something is wrong and no one is reporting it, it will put the child at greater risk of being hurt. This can also be challenging because most volunteers are untrained and are not in the field of social work. However, this could be a positive thing because once the volunteer knows about the things the child faces, he/she can find ways to comfort them and encourage them in the appropriate manner that they need.
3. Relationship to Total Ministry Working with underprivileged children can be difficult at times, but it is important to know and realize that these children are the next generation, and the future leaders of the church. It is crucial that we help them get on the right track. “According to the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, school-aged kids are beginning to imitate attitudes and values of the adults around them” (Martinez). This is a great opportunity for the church to step in and be positive examples and role models for the children. Another relationship children have with the church is that they remind the congregation that we were all made in God’s image. This is vital to the church, because children bring a sense of joy, peace, and happiness. This helps the congregation realize that people were all created to live happily (ministry to children).
4. How Individuals Equip Themselves Children’s ministers and volunteers need to realize that children need consistency in their lives (especially underprivileged), because they are so used to people walking out on them. It is crucial that they model consistency. According to the University of Alabama studies show that, “Consistency gives a child a sense of security” (Parenting Assistance Line).
Consistency takes a lot of patience and determination, but the outcome of it all is the greatest reward. Another aspect is that the minister or volunteer does not need to go into the ministry with the mindset that they are going to be the person that witnesses all of the children receive Christ as their Savior firsthand. However, some do and it is great! On the other hand, they need to know that they are there to plant the seed that may not bloom until later in life, and that is perfectly okay. It does not mean that they are a failure; the seed is one of the most important parts.
5. Special Attitudes and Personal Qualities Needed Dealing with children can be demanding and stressful. Harskuti states, “You have to actually like and enjoy spending time with kids if you ever want to work with them successfully” (Harskuti). You have to bring enthusiasm to the table when it comes to children, because if you are not pumped up and excited then the children will not be either. This can even work in regards to homework (yes, getting children excited about homework) but if they see that you are having fun, then that will allow them to have fun. Another aspect is patience. These are children, sometimes they do not know any better and they will need to be corrected in a loving and caring way. It is important to remember that children are not adults, the process things differently than adults do and that is okay. It can be frustrating at times, because you may have to repeat yourself a million times but do not lash out frustration on the children. They are learning.
6. Two-Month Lesson Plan This ministry would happen all throughout the school year in order to help the children with homework, reading, and prepare them for school testing such as the Benchmark. The activities of this ministry will include the W.I.S.E. principle (worship, instruction, serving/sharing, and evangelizing/ discipleship). Week 1: August 22- 26 Monday August 22: 2:30 send out a van to pick the children up for school 3:00-3:30 after-school snack 3:30-4:00 supervised homework period 3:30-4:30 Reading program for children who do not have homework that day, or finished their homework 4:30-5:30 Outside/inside games with the children 5:30-5:45 Volunteers get together and pray over the ministry and children
Tuesday August 23: 2:30 send out a van to pick the children up for school 3:00-3:30 after-school snack 3:30-4:00 supervised homework period 3:30-4:30 Reading program for children who do not have homework that day, or finished their homework 4:30-5:30 Outside/inside games with the children 5:30-5:45 Volunteers get together and pray over the ministry and children
Wednesday August 24: 2:30 send out a van to pick the children up for school 3:00-3:30 after-school snack 3:30-4:00 supervised homework period 3:30-4:30 Reading program for children who do not have homework that day, or finished their homework 4:30-5:30 Outside/inside games with the children 5:30-5:45 Volunteers get together and pray over the ministry and children
Thursday August 25: 2:30 send out a van to pick the children up for school 3:00-3:30 after-school snack 3:30-4:00 supervised homework period 3:30-4:30 Reading program for children who do not have homework that day, or finished their homework 4:30-5:30 Outside/inside games with the children 5:30-5:45 Volunteers get together and pray over the ministry and children
Friday August 23: 2:30 send out a van to pick the children up for school 3:00-3:30 send a volunteer and children outside while other volunteers finish preparing dinner and dessert for the children 3:30-4:15 eat dinner and dessert with the children 4:15-5:30 play outside with the children 5:30-5:45 Volunteers get together and pray over the ministry
Continue this schedule for the next seven weeks. In order to include the W.I.S.E principle, on Friday’s there may be someone who comes in and sings worship songs with the children and teach them new dance moves to the songs (worship). Any day on Monday-Thursday instead of doing individual reading, there could be a bible lesson (instruction) or have the volunteers open up and share their testimonies (serving/sharing), finally there could be a contest to see how many people the children tell about Jesus (evangelism/discipleship) this could even include a lesson on how to teach and equip children to talk about Jesus to their peers.
7. Job Description The purpose of an after-school mentoring program is to equip children with the tools and resources they need to succeed in life. They must truly love, care, and have a heart for children. They must be willing and able to have in-depth conversations with the children if they decide to open up about what they have been through, and be willing to help and encourage them. They also must be willing to keep in contact and remain in their lives, because these children need someone who will be constant and not leave them.