Reposting a popular post!
Reading Buddies. Just typing it brings a smile to my face. When I was teaching kindergarten and first grade, the benefits of a Reading Buddies program were for big and little buddies were apparent beyond our time together.
Our first buddies
My first kindergarten students had rotating 4th grade helpers before we ever started reading buddies. Half my class didn’t speak English, and there was no washroom, sink or cubbies/hooks in my classroom! It was 1996, and creating visuals was not as easy as it is today. These kids turned into Reading Buddies as the year came to a close. The benefits of those buddies to me and my students were beyond measurable. They spoke Portuguese, knew some of my students’ families and were particularly helpful with the transition into school for my youngest students. I noticed how my kindies watched them, mimicked them, and loved listening to them read the stories chose from the library.
Benefits of Reading Buddies on Little Buddies
Following that first year, I was sold on the benefits of a regular reading buddies program. The older students came ever second Friday to read with my kindergarten or grade 1 students, and sometimes do another activity if there was time. I had been circulating and making suggestions to older buddies to have certain students turn pages (for directionality practice), or talk about the pictures before reading the page to them etc. I could see how much the individual attention helped my early readers.
Benefits of Reading Buddies on Big Buddies
When I became a special education teacher (providing literacy support to students up to the third grade), I set up buddy reading between some of my third grade students and snacking Kindergarten students. Half of them were interested when I first suggested bringing their ‘most practiced’ books to kindergarten, weekly, during recess. After the first month, I had to create a sign-up sheet! The first set of ‘big buddies’ were so excited about their new role, the rest wanted in. They had always had older Reading Buddies. Now they got to become them!
When participation is voluntary, both younger and older students benefit in so many ways.
The ‘Little Buddies’ benefit from:
- hearing stories read-aloud (modeling of reading fluency, phrasing and expression)
- having conversations with an older student about topics that interest and involve them (extending their vocabulary, oral language abilities)
- having regular opportunities to practice familiar reading with 1:1 assistance
- enjoying fun, positive experiences with ‘big kid’ who is now a recognizable face in the school community
The ‘Big Buddies’ benefit from:
- further developing their own literacy skills
- fostering leadership and problem-solving skills
- improved self-confidence that comes from being looked-up to
- a very real and important reason to be responsible, and an opportunity to be ‘caught’ (and praised) for positive behavior
- bragging rights
Reading Buddies programs promote a higher interest and engagement in reading, improvement in social and communication skills, particularly for students learning English as a second language. And, most importantly, it’s just FUN.
What are your experiences with Reading Buddies?
The language opportunities, rise in self-esteem and sense of purpose always impress me when buddies are learning together!