Buker Buddies foster a sense of normalcy during pandemic
At a time when person-to-person contact is at a premium, Bessie Buker Elementary School is still finding ways for students to build new relationships.
The school has continued its cross-grade buddy program, pairing older students in grades 3-5 with younger ones in grades K-2. Throughout the year, the buddies get together and complete activities together.
“A huge part of school is built on relationships,” said Principal Ben Schersten. “This is one of the ways we do it, so the big question was ‘how do we do it safely?’ We’re really trying not to mix kids more than necessary, but they’ve been great about social distancing and mask wearing. The pandemic has added some constraints to school, but we are still finding ways to safely build community.”
Buddy programs have universally been shown to promote self-esteem in children and create a more tolerant and inclusive culture. Younger students enjoy having a role model to get to know, and older students gain valuable leadership skills.
“There’s a level of familiarity there that you don’t have between teacher and student,” said Schersten. “It gives our older students a greater sense of purpose, making a difference, and the younger ones really look forward to it.”
Most recently, kindergarten and third-grade buddies completed a leaf-themed activity, working in socially distanced pairs. They read the book “Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert and then went on the hunt for leaves to make their own leaf people. Schersten says they will try to keep the activities outdoors as much as possible, and Zoom meet-ups might be on the table this winter.
Is there something going on at your school that should be highlighted? Email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org