“Motivation is the single most important factor in any sort of success.”
- Edmund Hillary
Edmund Hillary was the first man to successfully reach the summit of Mount Everest, so he clearly knew a thing or two about motivation. Unfortunately, many teens struggle to motivate themselves to complete their responsibilities at school and at home. Teenagers are often more interested in video games, social media, and hanging out with their friends.
A lack of motivation can be particularly frustrating when you can see how much potential your teen has, but they seem uninterested in maximizing it.
If this sounds like your teen, you are not alone. Many parents struggle with their teen’s apathy and lack of motivation.
It may seem like an impossible task, but with the right support, you help your teen find their intrinsic motivation.
Mentorship can be the key to unlocking your teen’s motivation and propelling them towards their potential. Keep reading to find out what academic mentorship is and how it can help your teen unlock their potential.
Why Your Teen Needs an Academic Mentor
Teens often struggle with motivation because they feel like they do not have control of their circumstances. Developmentally, they are at an age where they are seeking more autonomy and independence. Unfortunately, this is often hard to come by because school provides them with few opportunities for autonomy.
In an effort to find a sense of independence and autonomy, many teens rebel and refuse to do what they are told. Rebellion gives them a sense of control, although not necessarily a sense of happiness or achievement.
This can commonly lead to academic struggles and tension between teens and their parents.
The longer this pattern continues, the harder it will be for a teen to find intrinsic motivation. The key to motivating a teen is often stepping back and giving them space to dictate their own path. Mentors can facilitate a teen’s exploration and provide guidance as a teen begins to express their independence and seek their own solutions.
What does an Academic Mentor Do?
Academic mentors, also called academic coaches, act as role models for students. The mentor/coach provides academic advice, resources, and a forum to discuss problems and brainstorm solutions. In this article, I will use mentor and coach interchangeably.
Unlike other types of academic support (i.e. tutoring), mentorship meets the full needs of a mentee. A mentor will discuss subject-specific as well as social-emotional challenges related to a student’s academics.
The goal of mentor-mentee pairing is to help a student find their intrinsic motivation and create a diverse toolbox of skills they can use to achieve success now and in the future.
In order to accomplish this goal, mentors and coaches prioritize question asking and the goals of their mentees. This gives their mentors a sense of agency and independence, which is essential for the success of a mentor-mentee pairing. Over time, this builds trust and helps the mentee develop intrinsic motivation and problem-solving skills.
As mentee continues to grow, a coach can support them on this journey by teaching them the skills they need to accomplish their goals. These skills include organization, note-taking, writing, and other academic fundamentals.
Finally, mentorship is a two-way street. A good mentor and mentee pairing will include shared interests and open discussion beyond just academics. Having a connection beyond school-related subjects helps build a healthy relationship and trust between the mentor and the mentee. This relationship is necessary for the mentee to listen to and accept the advice provided by the mentor.
How can Mentorship Benefit your Teen?
An academic mentor can be the secret to unlocking your teen’s motivation. Due to the emphasis mentors place on whole-child learning, teens are often more receptive to mentors than traditional forms of academic support.
By connecting with and empathizing with your teen, an academic coach can help your teen identify what motivates them by putting the power in the hands of the teen. This includes their goals, desires, and solutions.
Instead of going down a predetermined path, mentors focus on asking questions and understanding your teen’s circumstances. The emphasis that academic coaches place on question-asking is one of the primary advantages that they have over other forms of academic support. The simple act of asking instead of telling can make all the difference in the world.
Additionally, mentorship offers an opportunity for a start fresh. Many of the adults in a teen’s life are associated with family or school. These connections may make a teen unwilling to open up and receive advice, especially if the teen has had negative experiences with academics in the past. Since a mentor does not have these connections, a teen and a mentor are starting with a blank slate, without any prior negative associations.
The fresh start that a coach provides allows for more open and honest discussions and helps create an environment where your teen is more likely to listen and accept feedback.
Furthermore, a mentor can model and troubleshoot habits like time management, note-taking, reading, active listening, and writing that your teen needs to succeed now and in the future. An academic coach can also empower your teen to be an independent learner by encouraging ownership and self-advocacy.
By fostering your teen’s ownership over their academics, a mentor can prepare your teen for sustained success well into the future.
How Academic Mentorship can Benefit Parents
Mentorship has benefits for parents as well as teens. Teens that struggle with their academics and lack motivation often have strained relationships with their parents. This is often the result of the parents’ well-intentioned efforts to motivate their children.
Over time, this can strain the relationship between parents and child, and make the home a battleground.
A mentor gives parents the opportunity to take a step back. Instead of focusing on their child’s academics, they can focus on building a positive relationship with their teen instead. The mentor can take on the role of monitoring the teen’s academics and providing accountability, while keeping the parents in the loop.
Additionally, an academic coach can work with parents to create an environment at home that will help facilitate academic growth and foster a teen’s motivation.
The Next Step
If you think a mentor might be the support your teen needs to unlock their motivation and potential, let’s talk.
I am an academic coach and mentor that has worked with hundreds of students to help them build positive habits and achieve academic success.
Every student has their specific challenges. Let’s have a discussion about how we can unleash your teen’s intrinsic motivation – book your free discovery call here.
About the Author: John Hyde
I am an educational coach specializing in teaching students academic fundamentals and a growth mindset.
After graduating from Duke University in 2015, I taught at a public middle school from 2016 to 2019. Although I loved working with students in the classroom, the public education system was not teaching students the skills essential to academic success.
I left the classroom in 2019 to start Academic Empowerment Academy. Since then, my coaching program has helped hundreds of students realize their academic potential by assisting them in building confidence and empowering them with the skills and mindset to meet their goals in school and life.
If you’d like to discuss how I can help your teen be more motivated, foster good habits, and improve academic organization/performance, Book a Complimentary Discovery Call Here.
Hi I’m John, author of this blog, academic coach, and founder of AE Academy.
I help teens reach their academic potential by empowering them with academic fundamentals, a growth mindset, and critical thinking.
If your teen is struggling to reach their academic potential, or isn’t learning the skills they need to succeed in school, we should connect.
It’s on me – Book Your Free Call Here