As part of Mountain Song’s social-emotional curriculum, classes are paired with each other so that students get to know each other across grades. Class teachers coordinate times for their buddy classes to get to visit and spend time together every couple of weeks.
One purpose behind this initiative is to help build school community so children in one class can see beyond their classroom walls and connect with students of other ages. They see each other in the hallways, on the playground, at assemblies, and at performances, and often greet each other with enthusiastic waves (“There’s my buddy!”), high-fives, and even hugs. Older buddies have been seen comforting younger ones when they have a tough moment or cheering on the younger ones, and the younger ones look up to the older ones as respected friends and role models.
Not surprisingly, these types of programs in schools have been shown to help foster empathy and caring attitudes in children. Here at Mountain Song, this initiative is guided by Gifted Education teacher, Claudia Martin.
Buddy class teachers agree on some structure for their visits. Some have decided to pair students together one-on-one, while others have created small buddy groups. Students are prompted by conversation starters, singing songs, reading stories, or playing games to structure the interactions. Some classes create cards for their buddies and deliver them in person. The relationships will grow and deepen over the course of the year.
The photos here are little glimpses into some of the interactions, which we witness as creating a fabric of kids looking out for kids, a culture of care at Mountain Song.