Friday, September 19, 2014

Buddies: Leadership and Learning

Friday is Buddy Day.

The fifth graders work with their kindergarten buddies in the afternoon.

Last week was our first meeting; partners or small groups of kindergartners and fifth graders learned in many ways together.

Children created with paper/pencil, Little Bits, Makey Makey, blocks, and art supplies. They also read books, wrote books, and played games.

During the school days following buddy day, the fifth graders play with and help the kindergartners on the playground.

In days of old, when families were bigger and neighborhoods were filled with children young and old after school, this multi-age share and play happened all the time. Now, with busier schedules and sparser neighborhoods in some cases, this play happens less often. Hence, buddy time gives the older children a chance to be a "big brother or sister," and provides the younger children with the chance to work and play with older children.

Buddy time also gives the younger children a one-to-one teacher for important learning goals. As buddies develop their friendships, we'll build the program so that the fifth graders work as student teachers too helping the buddies with important learning goals.

Further, this responsibility helps the fifth graders build their leadership and contribution skills.

When I was a sixth grader, I was a kindergarten helper--I always looked forward to helping Mrs. Leary and her students at Indian Hill School. I know that my fifth graders are getting that same sense of satisfaction.

Buddies is a long-held tradition at our school. Upper grade students match with younger grade classrooms to learn, create, and build community. It's a very positive endeavor, one I recommend if you haven't tried it yet.