This week was an exciting week for our fourth graders and preschoolers. After a few scheduling conflicts, we were finally able to connect and meet for our first reading buddy experience of the school year. If you have ever wondered if implementing reading buddies is a wise use of instructional time and something you should work into your already overloaded schedule, the answer is ABSOLUTELY! Here is why…
Reason #1: Fluency Practice for BIG KIDS:
Reading aloud and listening to same-age peers read aloud is not always a favorite of my students, especially if they are or are paired with a struggling reader. However, many of my students still require fluency practice to enhance their abilities as readers of text. Reading to a preschool buddy is far less intimidating and allows students that need additional fluency practice to read aloud without feeling stressed about their own abilities as a successful reader.
While the goal is to read effectively and fluently, one doesn’t become better without practice. Our preschool reading buddies are the perfect audience for allowing the fourth graders to work on their reading without judgment or over-correcting.
Reason #2: Weekly Motivation
A few weeks ago was the first time we were supposed to meet and read with our reading buddies. My fourth graders were beyond excited because this is something that many of them had participated in as preschoolers and knowing they were now the “big” buddy was thrilling. Due to a fire drill and preschool pictures, we had to reschedule our first meeting. My fourth graders were bummed and couldn’t wait for their week together to finally arrive.
Each week we meet with our buddies on Thursdays. The students look forward to this scheduled time and can’t wait to enjoy some books with their preschool friends. Knowing that we have a scheduled day of the week and time, gives them something to look forward to each week.
Reason #3: Connectivity to School
We know students come to school each day because they HAVE to, but I want my students to come to school because they love what is happening in our classroom and feel connected to their learning. In addition to the other exciting things taking place each day, reading buddy time gives my students even more reason to LOVE their time at school and a fulfilling purpose as a student leader. By spending time each week with another person that is looking just as forward to this time with them, it makes both groups of students feel that much more connected to their school experience.
Reason #4: Having Accountability to Others
We will be meeting with our reading buddies each week until the end of the school year. Knowing this time will take place, and having this time together, my fourth graders and their preschool buddies will form an unforgettable bond. From here on out, they will spot each other in the building, give friendly waves and sweet hugs, and they will look forward to their time together each week.
Reason #5: Teacher Perspective
I love getting to see my students take on the role of the teacher when they are working with their preschool reading buddies. Watching them switch roles from hardworking student to engaging “teacher” is truly a thrill to see. If you are in need of a fresh perspective of your students, giving them the opportunity to work with little people will give you that newfound appreciation for the thoughtful and genuine individuals they are. Any frustrations you have ever had will be redeemed through their sweet actions with their buddies.
I know that instructional time is precious and already bursting at the seams, but I can assure you that 15 minutes a week taken from your jam-packed schedule will be an incredible and memorable use of your students’ time.