Our Reading Buddies program matches up early readers in our Lower Elementary classes with more advanced readers in Upper Elementary. These groups meet at least once a month to practice reading aloud to each other. For older students, this provides an opportunity to mentor their younger schoolmates, building confidence and their sense of responsibility, while younger students get to improve their social reading skills. These multi-age relationships are at the core of the Montessori approach, where older students serve to model behavior and skills to their younger counterparts. Friendships sparked by our reading buddies program often extend outside our classrooms.
In addition to meeting in person, Upper El and Lower El students often exchange letters with their reading buddies. Students use their letters to ask their buddies about their favorite books and authors, share what projects they are working on in class, and chat about personal hobbies and interests. We also use these letters as an authentic opportunity for students to practice penmanship and letter writing etiquette.