Reading is a crucial part of any child’s mental development, as well as any student’s educational progress. This is the idea behind Benilde-St. Margaret’s new Little Knight Reading Buddies program. Started by BSM teachers Kari Koshiol and Paula Leider, as well as Little Knights director Heidi Wolf, the goal of this program is to help the kids in the Benilde-St. Margaret’s day care with their reading development and the BSM ninth graders with reading out loud.
Each Little Knight has two 9th graders assigned to them, one coming in on Monday mornings and the other coming in on Friday mornings. The pairs bond together from 9:00 to 9:20 on their visiting days, and during that time, the big kids read all of the Little Knight’s favorite books, from Clifford the Big Red Dog, to Toot and Pop.
For the Little Knights, it’s all about literacy exposure, recognizing authors and illustrators, and sounding out words. For the high school students, it’s all about practicing expression, sentence fluidity, and learning to read with voices and excitement. “It hits on all different age levels and stages,” says BSM Junior High Principal and Little Knight parent Ms. Claire Shea.
Not only are the Little Knights exposed to books and reading, but they are also taught how to understand the stories that were read to them. This is achieved by having them draw pictures about what happened in the books that were read to them by the Big Knights so that they can connect everything that was told to them orally and translate it into what the story was about in their minds.
The Little Knights are also brought even further into the Red Knight community through this program. When the ninth graders first came into their classroom, the Little Knights were understandably apprehensive towards them, seeing that they were complete strangers at the time.
To help them get used to the idea of the Reading Buddies coming in twice a week, the adult supervisors of the Little Knights put together a bowl that contains the pictures of the ninth graders with their names written on the front, and the names of their assigned Little Knight on the back. This was done to help the kids remember who their Reading Buddy is. The Little Knights randomly go to the bowl throughout the day and happily show off the picture of their partners. “Anytime we come in, they get super excited,” said ninth grade reading buddy Emma Paquette.
This program has brought these kids into a personal relationship with BSM high school students, and therefore gives them a deeper and loving connection with the ninth graders. “It’s really fun to see the Little Knights say ‘hi,’ to say somebody in the hallway and feel like they’re part of the community,” said Wolf.
Excited to continue with the program, the Little Knights and ninth graders will continue to grow in their literacy and will further cement a bond that will be cherished throughout the years.