Saturday, 25 October 2008

Special Friends!

Yesterday I went to my grandson Nathan's school assembly. He’s 10 and in Year 6, his final year at primary school. The assembly was to celebrate the Special Friends project that his school has been running for a long time now. The school’s motto is “caring, sharing and helping others” and this project is one of the ways that the motto is put into action.

The children in their final year who are 10 - 11 years old are paired up with children in the Reception class, aged 4 – 5 years, who are just starting their school life. They spend time together every day, getting to know each other, showing the little ones around the school and playing together. Every Friday the two classes look forward to spending their last lesson of the day playing together. They play football, rounders, jump on space hoppers and pogo sticks and they play the traditional games like ring a ring a roses, hopscotch etc and generally get to know each other. It’s a great idea where the little ones know they have someone who’ll always look out for them and help them if they have any problems. The older ones enjoy the responsibility given to them, caring for and sharing time with the little ones, not to mention going back to playing the games they enjoyed when they were small. Fun is the order of the day!

The assembly was amazing, very informative, it made you laugh and also brought a tear to your eye as the children showed us what being a Special Friend is all about. They sang hymns and songs, acted a short parable of sharing, read poems and told us in their own words what it meant to them.


I remember when Nathan started this school 6 years ago and how he often talked about his Special Friend Paul who was 10. Paul was obviously important to Nathan and he still has the teddy bear that Paul bought him that first Christmas in his new school. I didn't know much about the Special Friend scheme then or how important it is in the school and to the children. The OfSTED school inspection picked up on the ethos of the school and commended the Special Friend scheme in their final report. The school is one of the top primary schools in the City.
Now it’s Nathan’s turn to take responsibility for his Special Friend, Benedict. Nathan talked about Benedict even before he met him in September; it was obviously something the school prepared them for. We met Benedict, his Mam and baby brother on Friday, they are lovely. Benedict was very shy with Nathan at first but that’s changing and his confidence in school is developing. The relationship is obviously an important one to them both and I think Nathan enjoys having a little boy to play with. Much more fun than a little sister! I look forward to hearing about what they are doing over the next year.

I don’t know whether the new school Nathan will move to next year operates anything like this. It would be great if they do, but it’s a huge school and it may be difficult to organise. However it’s possibly needed more there than in the primary schools. That move to secondary school is a very difficult one, the schools are huge and the age range is 11 to 18. Maybe he’ll even meet up with his special friend Paul who will be in his last year in 6th form then. Who knows?

Next year it will be Lauren, Nathan’s little sister’s turn, when she joins the Reception class. I look forward to going to her Special Friends' Assembly in 2009 and meeting her new Special Friend!

11 comments:

  1. Special Friend's Assemblt is a wonderful way to teach the children. To bad our schools do not have the same program. Ask Frank about his grandson Davis.He is about 10 or 12.
    Patsy

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  2. That sounds like a wonderful idea. I'm sure it is a little scary for the 4 & 5 year old children and this is a wonderful way for them to make a friend and not be so overwhelmed.

    What a nice way to teach responsibility to the older children, and in this case both the younger ones and the older ones feel needed.

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  3. That was a great post Winifred. It makes me feel good to hear about programs like these teaching our young ones. Wish I could hear more stories like this.
    Thanks for sharing this one!

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  4. Ah, the rites of passage. These things always reduced me to tears. When my 9th grade daughter went into high school, she was assigned a big sister who was a senior. They are still friends and Sara graduated 8 years ago.

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  5. what a wonderful thing that is. I agree when they go onto High School, it would be great to have the same programme.

    Its not something we do in Canada, as far as I am aware.

    Gill in Canada, originally from Cumbria.

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  6. As a past elementary school teacher, I read your lovely post today with such interest!

    What a wonderful and heart warming idea! I wish that all schools could adopt this program.

    Thanks for sharing!
    xoxo

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  7. Winifred,

    What a wonderful project Special Friends is! Thank you for sharing it. And congratulationms for being featured as an Awesome Grandma who Blogs!

    My visitors just left at 3 AM, and I have a little time to visit, before getting ready for church. Have a great Sunday, Winifred.

    Hugs,

    Renie

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  8. Winifred, Your blog is lovely and not at all the procrastinator you say it is I have read several of your posts and found them all interesting and lovely to read I am sure I will be back again soon to read more of your lifes adventures. Lee-ann

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  9. Hi Winifred,
    I so enjoyed reading about your grandson's Special Friends program. Our grandson's school does the same thing and it's called School Families. One child from each grade forms a family and there are 40 different families. They meet each month to do a special project or community service. I totally agree that this would be great in the higher grades too.

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  10. I'm going to come clean. well not totally, I only do that in confession!

    I don't reveal all my procrastination! If I did I'd look a right pratt.

    Some days I don't even leave the house because it takes me so long to decide when to go! I'm that bad.

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  11. I just love to go to my grandson's school. I usually go every year with him to Grandparent's Day.

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