Working with little buddies is a lot of fun, and both parties benefit tremendously. It is an activity that allows the senior students to shine, it makes them feel good, allows students to build community awareness, meet new people, and make meaningful connections. I find that the high school students develop confidence, are more responsible, have improved leadership skills, and have higher self-esteem. It can also improve communication and decision making skills, and allows the girls to feel young again and free to be silly. Many of the girls leave the class feeling appreciated and more empathetic. It is also great for students who are thinking about going into a career working with children, as it gives them a small glimpse of what it may be like.
The elementary students also benefit because they get more one-on-one attention, they have fun, they are exercising and learning new games and activities, and they are excited to visit the high school and gain attachment to it. They also think that being active is “cool” because the teenagers do it!
There are a lot of things that you can do with little buddies that don’t take any/much planning or money . You can go to their school to play games, have them come to your school, go for a walk, play at a playground, go ice skating, go geocaching, go on a scavenger hunt, play games in the woods, play parachute games, etc. You can also plan activities around wellness such as nutrition, stress management, or any other topic that your students are interested in. My students recently taught the Hug a Tree & Survive program for example.
When pairing up buddies, speak to the elementary teacher and make sure that any of her students who need extra help get an “assertive” big buddy or two big buddies. This is fun as a one time activity, but even better if you can meet up several times throughout the semester.
For more structured classes, my class will begin planning a week or so before the planned date. We take a class to decide on a theme (ex. minor games or yoga), brainstorm ideas, play the games, and then decide on what activities we want to teach. We then go through and decide on groups and who will explain each activity. I also talk to them about classroom management and safety. On the day of the class I give each group a lesson plan and we do a quick refresher of what will happen that day. Once we meet up with the elementary school students, the girls take over. At the end of the class they will give themself a mark based on how hard they think that they tried and the leadership that they demonstrated. Below you will find an introductory big buddy/little buddy handout, and a few of our past lesson plans designed for kindergarten to grade 3 classes: