The pairing of older teens with younger children provides students with social and educational tools that they may be lacking during quarantine.
With schools closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, students of all ages have had to completely shift how they learn. Students, especially elementary students, are struggling with productive engagement and the lack of the social connections they once knew.
However, Bloomfield Hills High School students Noah Yaker, 15, and Noah Roslin, 16, devised a solution to not only help younger students, but to also engage their high school peers in developing relationships and boosting student’s productivity. Thus began their organization, Big Buddies of Bloomfield.
“The high school students were feeling lonely, so we couldn’t imagine what it was like for the elementary school students, especially since some of them might not understand fully what’s going on,” Roslin said. “It’s been very difficult for everyone, but this is a way to solve both problems and create a relationship between generations.”
The primary goal of Big Buddies of Bloomfield is to help families in the community by pairing high school students with elementary school students to engage them in virtual educational activities. These activities can include educational games, reading books, homework assignments, arts and crafts and more.
A majority of the “little buddies” come from elementary schools through the Bloomfield school district, but their services are open to any student in Michigan. Parents of elementary school students can register their children for a session by heading to Big Buddies of Bloomfield’s website and filling out a registration form.
The form asks for basic information about the parent, student, what elementary school they attend, the student’s learning targets and a space to provide more information about the student’s interests.
After the form is submitted, Roslin and Yaker will pair up the students with a “big buddy” whom they feel would best connect with the child. Pairing is based on the availability of the big buddy and the interests of both students so the connection is much easier to create.
They currently are serving 40-45 little buddies and have roughly 20-25 big buddies, all of whom attend Bloomfield Hills High School. The website also has a picture of each big buddy on their website with a short bio, detailing their interests and their expertise.
All of the sessions are conducted through Google Hangouts, via the parent’s email. Parents can also request a specific big buddy, if they either know the big buddy personally or they feel that a certain big buddy would be a good fit for their child.
Big Buddies of Bloomfield sessions are free. In lieu of funding the program, participants are encouraged to donate money to the United Way of Southeastern Michigan COVID-19 Community Fund through the Big Buddies of Bloomfield website.
“We want everyone to be able to create a good dynamic and a lasting friendship, so that it continues long after the big buddy period ends,” Yaker said. “Additionally, we want students to continue to stay motivated during this time and make connections.”
Head over to the Big Buddies of Bloomfield‘s website to sign your child up for sessions.