Mentoring is a relationship in which an older person provides ongoing guidance, instruction, and encouragement to another, younger individual, usually a youth, with the goal of further developing that individual's competence and character (Rhodes, 2002a). Typically viewed as older and wiser, mentors develop supportive relationships with younger youth, who are referred to as mentees or protégés.

Natural versus Program-Based Mentoring

A major distinction in the definition of mentors and mentoring relationships is between natural mentors and program-based mentors. Natural mentoring, as the name suggests, emerges naturally. Youth often develop natural mentoring relationships with adults who pay special attention to them, and who provide guidance, encouragement, and a sympathetic ear. In the context of school, natural mentors may include teachers, coaches, counselors, psychologists, administrators as well as many ...

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