Camaraderie and joy filled Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School Randwick playground where students came together to share morning tea and play games for the first week of the school year.
Lucy Molloy has already met two friends, while her buddy in Year 6, Sienna Heinemann, said it was great to have responsibility.
The Buddy program, which has been in place for many years at the school, pairs kindergarten students with a year 6 student to help with school orientation, build relationships and to give students strategies to build resilience and help themselves.
Every new year excited faces arrive and it’s not just the kindergarten students. The Year 6 students are just as excited to meet their new buddies. No one cares about the age difference; the students are there to be leaders and mentors.
“Everyone needs someone to guide them through the important stages of their lives and starting school is one of the most important for a child,” said school Principal Natius McAdam.
“This is such a rewarding program for all those involved. Not only do the kinder students have a network of older students they can rely on and trust, but the program is beneficial for Year 6 students as they become wonderful role models, build team and school spirit and display positive behaviours for learning. It prepares them for high school, teaches them about leadership and service, and about contributing to society.”
Mrs McAdam added that the program was especially excellent to support those students who did not have siblings at the school or know other children.
“For the Kinders, it helps ensure that they don’t feel overwhelmed within their new environment. They feel safe knowing they have a Year 6 Buddy in the playground they can go to not only for fun and games, but for assistance if needed,” she said.
Buddies first meet during kinder orientation sessions. During the first few weeks of term, Year 6 students eat with their buddies and help them to get to know the school and the other kinder students. They visit the kindergarten classes each week to do activities like craft, reading, playing games and helping with group work. They also hold hands and get to see each other during peer support to strengthen the relationship.
It is part of the school’s transition program, built into the early years strategies preschool program, which encourages parents to meet their child’s teacher in one-on-one sessions over three days.
“It’s advantageous because parents feel they get to know their child’s teacher as well,” Mrs McAdam said.