Kindergarten/Fifth Grade Buddy Programs have been in existence for many years, and the schools that incorporate them offer many benefits to the students who get to participate. At St. Joan of Arc Catholic School, the much-loved Buddy Program has been in effect for over twenty-five years.
"This is a very special SJA program," said Miss Riccio, Kindergarten teacher at St. Joan of Arc. "The fifth graders enjoy having a little buddy to read, create, converse, and play with. The big buddies who don't have younger siblings absolutely love it! The Kindergarteners also love the program, and can't wait for the next buddy event - they love being able to recognize a "big kid" at school with a smile, a wave, or a high five."
Kindergarteners and fifth graders meet regularly throughout the school year. "The buddies meet on Wednesday mornings for a DEAR, or Drop Everything And Read, session," added Riccio. "Early in the school year the younger students choose five books for their buddies to read to them. Later, as the Kindergarteners become more confident readers, they start reading to their buddies."
The buddies also attend Mass together; the big buddies act as role models at church, which is very helpful to the teachers. "Big buddies walk their little buddies to their faith families, as SJA purposely sets them up to share," said Riccio. "They also create gingerbread houses, Valentine's boxes, and other holiday-themed crafts together, and they enjoy a picnic lunch and afternoon movie together too."
The benefits to both grades are plentiful. "The Kindergarteners receive great role models for the entire year, and they benefit from hearing stories read aloud and participating in conversations with older students about topics that interest them," added Riccio. "The fifth graders improve their reading and vocabulary skills, and develop leadership skills that help build self-confidence. This wonderful program promotes friendship and fosters a strong sense of community in the school."
St. Joan of Arc Catholic School and Church
Pre-K through 8th grade
820 Division Street, Lisle, IL