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Student reading buddies are a form of peer mentoring, a powerful tool that isn’t used enough in school.

Studies suggest that partnering with high-achieving students can positively impact a student’s learning.

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Alphabets Handwriting Practice Sheets

Alphabets Handwriting Practice Sheets

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Break is Over - featuring a girl character

Break is Over - featuring a girl character

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A Night Divided Vocabulary Study

A Night Divided Vocabulary Study

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Books of the Bible Activity Pack 1 - Catholic

Books of the Bible Activity Pack 1 - Catholic

$3.50
Design & Build a Treehouse - STEM Project

Design & Build a Treehouse - STEM Project

$5.00
Flip Calendar for Farmhouse Classroom Decor - Chalkboard on Burlap - Solid

Flip Calendar for Farmhouse Classroom Decor - Chalkboard on Burlap - Solid

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Mini Math Investigations Volume and Capacity Worksheets

Mini Math Investigations Volume and Capacity Worksheets

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Building Houses Bundle (6 activities + activity sheets)

Building Houses Bundle (6 activities + activity sheets)

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How do student reading buddies work?

Those older and more capable of reading are often a peer for young students. This is where the concept of reading buddies comes into effect.

Reading Buddies is a concept that pairs different levels of ability in reading terms for reading time in the classroom. For example, you would pair a lower-grade student with an upper-grade student during reading. In this article, we’ll cover everything ranging from reading buddies’ benefits and rules to reading buddies’ activities.

How to establish a student reading buddies program

Establishing your very own reading buddies program in the classroom is pretty simple. You need to pair an upper-grade student with a lower-grade student. This works best in pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary school. For example, fourth graders pair with first graders, third graders with pre-kindergarteners or kindergartners, and fifth graders with second graders.

While you can increase the group sizes to 3 students, it’s best to allow them to work in pairs to gain the full benefit of the program. Allow 30 minutes a month for these two students to read together.

Gather students in a library, outside on a sunny day, or in the classroom. Allow the younger student to choose the book so they can read something they’re excited to read. Older students can share their favorite books with younger students as time passes.

As the year progresses, the skills of the younger readers will increase, and this welcomes the opportunity for students to take turns reading to each other. This provides a chance for everyone to shine.

The benefits of this type of reading buddies program are excellent:

  1. It allows younger readers to witness what being a fluent reader looks like with a positive role model that shows a high reading standard. The older student acts as a form of inspiration.
  2. It also benefits the older student as they develop their social skills and create emotional skills such as empathy and patience working with their little buddies.
  3. Also, it’s not just younger students who benefit. For upper elementary students who may be struggling with grade-level reading, the reading buddies program allows them to find reading material that is easier for them to read without feeling shy or embarrassed.

Overall, the roots of the school community increase and deepen with this form of a program as various classes across the school share and work together.

Emotional and social benefits

Of course, you may worry about the behavior or reading level of the older students, but this is an opportunity they may need. When students are given the freedom to be better or work for something bigger than themselves, they thrive.

It helps those students who are currently not on grade level reading by providing them with a chance to practice with books they perhaps otherwise wouldn’t choose. It can also give them a much-needed confidence boost as they read to a fascinated kindergartner.

It is also potential for success for those students who suffer from behavioral difficulties. Consider this story:

  • Let’s call a student Jake. He is a 5th grader with attention problems, and he reads at a 1st-grade level, but he has an amazing heart.
  • His teacher was worried about his success, so he partnered Jake with a kindergarten class for Reading Buddies. Jake is paired with Micheal, who has his own difficulties, such as aggression and defiance.
  • At the initial meeting, they got on fine, but their relationship began to blossom after a few sessions.
  • One day, on his way to meet with Michael, Jake saw him being rude to a teacher outside a classroom.
  • Once they reached the reading buddies area, Jake put his arm around Michael and gave him the Don’t be like me speech. This created mutual respect as Michael could relate to Jake and vice versa.
  • Over time, the teachers worked out a program where Michael could spend time with Jake outside of reading buddies, both as an intervention and a reward.

This enabled a positive relationship for both students as Micheal gained a role model, and Jake had someone to mentor, which helped him develop other emotional skills.

This cooperative learning program is an excellent way to create a sense of community in a school environment and encourage reading. Reading Buddies excites both sets of students as it’s a chance to have fun, make friends and get out of class!

With thoughtfulness and cooperation, the relationships created between students can expand beyond just one school year and continue beyond reading books. It allows the creation of emotional and social lessons and the chance for powerful moments and connections to be formed. These amazing benefits are all from just sharing a simple book.

Student reading buddies summary

Funding books can be costly for any teacher, especially with teachers receiving low pay and the lack of funding for schools at the moment. So if you’re interested in a reading buddies program but are worried about the cost of books, you can sign up to Classful to raise funds for your classroom and students today!