Each class at Mountain Song has a buddy class that they visit and communicate with. For instance, the 8th grade class is buddies with one of the first grade classes, while a 6th grade class is buddies with the other first grade class. A time is set aside every second Friday morning for these visits to happen. Although October 5 is just our second official time, the classes have developed some strong relationships already.
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!”) 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 have been shown to help foster empathy and caring attitudes in children. Here at Mountain Song, this initiative is part of our social and emotional learning enrichment program 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 or singing songs or reading stories 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.