Colorado Academy’s mission is to create curious, kind, courageous, and adventurous learners and leaders. One way we support our mission is through developing multi-age experiences to foster growth in our young students as learners and leaders. Interacting with peers across grade levels is a common phenomenon at many middle and high schools, and it certainly is at CA. Students attend classes, play on athletic teams, work in performing groups, and participate in clubs and organizations with peers from other grades. We strive to begin these multi-age interactions as early as Kindergarten through our Buddies program.
Buddies is a partnership between two classrooms of different grades to foster relationships—Pre-K and Kindergarten partner with Third Grade; First Grade partners with Fourth Grade; and Second Grade partners with Fifth Grade. Buddies may work together on reading a book in partnership, completing an art activity, solving a math question, researching a specific topic, or playing a game with one another. The older Buddy is trained to be a mentor and support the younger Buddy. Buddies meet once a month, and as the year progresses, they bond and friendships flourish.
Last week, I was walking through the hallway with a First Grader and a Fourth Grader, and they were in a deep conversation about Halloween. I asked them how they knew one another and they both displayed bright smiles and shared at the same time, “We were Buddies last year, and we still talk all the time.” They went on to reveal their highlight memories from the past year that included doing crossword puzzles together, the younger Buddy mastering the monkey bars on the playground with the help of the older Buddy, creating an art project, and playing Connect 4. The Buddies program allows students to develop skills in mentoring and leadership, leading to a powerful relationship that provides a continuation of connection through the years.