The Buddy Program provides a great atmosphere for students to positively impact their peers. A class of older students “adopts” a younger class (i.e., second grade adopts a class of kindergartners or a primer class adopts a preschool class), and then the teachers schedule time accordingly to bring the two classes together for learning and sharing. The elementary students have opportunities to take ownership of their educational success as they are presented as leaders and role models to the younger students.
Modeling by the older students allows them to see themselves as important contributors to the school, developing leadership, confidence, and empathy. They see the importance of what they do in the eyes and actions of the younger children. The older student finds worth in practicing kindness and gentleness, communicating with vocabulary that the younger child can understand, and discovering the joy that comes from a simple act of giving to another. They read, work, and communicate with these younger students through games, play, reading, and expression.
Younger students feel empowered with the opportunity to have an “older” friend and see what they have to look forward to as they move into the elementary grades. The modeling increases verbalization by younger students and provides a sense of importance to all. They love having this peek into what the future holds and knowing they have an ally in the upper grades. It creates a bridge of understanding for sharing and giving, building unity among grades. The students enjoy getting to know each other throughout the year, with so many memories being made as classes do projects, read, and have fun together.