Walk through the halls at Chizuk Amuno Congregation and Schools, and you may hear the giggles of preschool aged children, paired with the laughs of older students. Phrases like, “I love coloring with her, she’s my best friend,” and “I love making challah with him,” are commonly heard, thanks to the partnership between the preschool program at the Goldsmith Early Childhood Center and fifth grade classes at Krieger Schechter Day School.
Once a month, the fifth grade classes at Krieger Schechter pair with the preschool classes to provide one-on-one partner time between younger and older students. The children are partnered in the beginning of the school year, and remain together throughout the year to help foster a special bond. The preschool and fifth grade teachers plan, organize, and supervise activities together that help to enrich the bonds between the students.
Some months the classes meet in the preschool classrooms, and other months they meet in the fifth grade classrooms. (As you can imagine, going to the “big kids” room is a big deal for the little ones!) Students read and color together. They build friendship trees together. They bake challah and sit together during Shabbat celebrations. Since moving to remote learning in mid-March, the fifth graders have been surprising some of the classes on their preschool Zoom experiences as well as creating videos for the children.
“We made the best of the situation and have been successful in continuing the relationships built,” said Michelle Gold, director of the Goldsmith Early Childhood Center.
Whatever the activity, it is something everyone looks forward to!
“Our fifth grade buddies program has been a wonderful opportunity to support our curriculum goals through strengthening community interactions and building relationships,” said one fifth grade teacher.
The experience has a big impact on preschool students. Here are a few things they said:
“I like when we draw with them.”
“I like reading with them.”
“I love him and have fun with him.”
“I like going upstairs to the big kids classroom!”
“I like when my buddy reads me a book.”
Walking into the classroom during one of these sessions can be such a rewarding experience, — even as an outsider. Little ones look up to their older buddies, who help them learn to read as well as remind them that they’re special enough to be friends with an older kid. Older students become more confident in their own skills and in their role as a role model. and to see the older students becoming more confident in their own skills, and feeling confident in their position as role model.
“Buddy relationships” build through the year and across physical divides, as students and staff have learned since moving to remote learning. The best part? All students know that they are an important part of the Chizuk Amuno community, no matter their age.
To learn more about Krieger Schechter Day School visit their website or listing in our Independent School Directory. Interested in early learning at the Goldsmith Early Childhood Center? Visit their website here or their listing in our Preschool Directory.
Editor’s Note: This article is sponsored by Goldsmith Early Childhood Center and Krieger Schecter Day School. Photos were provided by the schools.