Senior buddies: Building character, creating friendships

buddy2Guest post by Paula Marengeur, Teacher-Librarian, Tecumseth Beeton Elementary School

For over seven years now, students at Tecumseth Beeton Elementary School have been visiting seniors at Simcoe Manor, a long-term care facility next to the school.

This year, our Grade 6 students have been going to the centre every month to play games with their senior buddy to establish a friendship. In previous years, classes completed projects such as building bird houses and making memory books with their senior partners. This program helps us reach our Community, Culture and Caring goal in our Board and School Improvement Plans. Having the students connect with our senior neighbours also helps develop our Board’s character education traits of caring, empathy, co-operation and respect.

To give other students the opportunity to be part of this experience, we have classes from Grades 1 to 8 sign up to do crafts, sing or read with seniors at the VON’s drop in-day centre, also located at Simcoe Manor.

buddy3Students in one of our Grade 1 classes will be doing what is called an ‘inquiry’ to support the social studies curriculum while they are visiting. Through interaction and questioning, the Grade 1 students will make conclusions about the inquiry “Why are senior citizens important to our community and to the world?”

Throughout the years, our students have demonstrated good behaviour while visiting their senior buddy. Teachers have often commented on the high level of respect they see from their students during these visits. The seniors have told us that they look forward to working with the students. This partnership benefits both groups—our students develop character and our neighbours enjoy the interaction with our students through the activities they do together.

The best part of the program for me is the walk home. I often overhear students telling each other about their senior buddy. On this walk, it’s guaranteed that more than one student will enthusiastically ask “When can we go again? That was fun!”

Oh, the sweet sounds of success!

One thought on “Senior buddies: Building character, creating friendships

  1. Laura Mackenzie

    What a great program – not only for the children, but I imagine that the seniors look forward to this as well! Well done Ms. Marengeur, I wish there were more teachers like you committed to helping our children become caring and empathetic citizens of their world.

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