Thinking about starting a Reading Buddies program in your classroom this year? Here are some tips and tools to get things rolling!
Consider putting School-wide Reading Buddies on a staff meeting agenda.
If you’re thinking of starting reading buddies program, discuss the benefits for all students with your staff. Even if the idea is planted to be reassessed, the seed is planted for the future. When many teachers opt in, optimal class pairings become simpler.
Take age into consideration.
Ideally, an age / grade difference of 3+ years between buddies work really well. Another way to think about spacing is from different divisions (i.e. K/4, 1/5 2/6, 3/7, 4/8).
Approach a colleague about pairing classes…
…and be realistic about whether your schedules will work! Casual conversation over lunch can often accomplish this, but I’m a fan of using email so I can refer back to it and refresh my memory!
Build Reading Buddy time into your timetable.
When ‘it’s official’ everyone knows what to expect, when. Perhaps it is alternate week familiar reading, word-work, or math skills review through games, part of character education or religious education for forty minutes. While Reading Buddies may not appear in on the timetable your principal has to hand in to the school board, it’s important that the kids have this special time to look forward to. It could even happen over lunch!
Define expectations to both classes.
My personal experience starting reading buddies programs has taught me the importance of a strong start. Defining and reviewing expectations! First in the individual classrooms, then when the groups are brought together. Visual reminders in meeting areas are also very helpful. Buddies time can quickly look like recess if sixty kids are unsure of what the rules are!
Years ago, I wrote general expectations in a storybook lesson format for my young students. This was shared with their older buddies along with tips for communicating with younger children.
These and a fun ‘getting to know-each other’ art activity became the Reading Buddies Starter pack.
It has been growing ever since and is now a best-selling resource: Reading Buddy Activities for the Year. Check out this video preview!
The success of this has inspired the creation of The Learning Buddy Starter Pack.
What are some expectations that you find important to put in place starting reading buddies program?