We were excited to see our first Literacy Buddies program for the year kick off.
Ardoch’s Literacy Buddies® is a unique program that pairs volunteer professionals with children in our partner schools to write letters to each other. It helps children boost literacy and communication skills while gaining insight into the professions and experiences of their big buddies. This was the first chance for the “big buddies” to meet their “little buddies” in person since their letter exchanges began at the start of the year.
The feedback from everyone involved was that the visit was a great success. The grade 6 students met up with their big buddies in the school gym where they created a big circle and introduced themselves before going on a tour around the school grounds. No school visit would be complete without ‘play lunch’ and all buddies thoroughly enjoyed sitting down together and eating packets of chips, fruit cups and juice.
Both the students and workplace volunteers overcame initial shyness to participate in ‘Q and A’ sessions where the children had the chance to learn more about their buddies and what they do for a living.
Ardoch Education Partnerships Coordinator, Nick, says the visit was extra special after two years of interruptions and lockdowns where in-person visits had to be replaced with online meet-ups.
“The big buddies were just so happy to be there. I had time to talk to some of them and they were really excited by the program and really happy to meet their little buddies, so they’ve got more of an idea of who they are writing to,” says Nick.
Teacher Anne Marie shared how thrilled she was that the students had the opportunity to engage with adults and have the experience of having conversations, learning from others and building their confidence. “The children were a buzz for the rest of the week!” she says.
The students are now super excited for their end of year visit when they get to go to the city and visit the offices of their big buddies.
“A lot of the kids haven’t been to the city for a long time or even go to the city, it’s not something they do. A lot of the students we know stay in their area so that’s another exciting opportunity that Literacy Buddies gives. It is about literacy and practicing writing letters, but it’s also got these other components like social and wellbeing,” says Nick.
The positive relationships formed in these programs allow students to practice their social skills, be exposed to adult role models and build aspirations for their futures.
Once the initial barriers are broken down the conversation starts to flow and by the end children are chatting excitedly with a newfound confidence speaking with adults.
Nick says simply doing something as normal as chatting freely and in-person after two years of isolation was a positive step for all.
We look forward to more meetings with our other partner schools and workplace volunteers very soon as both children and adults experience the benefits of connecting in-person.
If you would like to get involved in this unique and inspiring Ardoch program, head to our website to learn more.