Significance of Buddy System for Children with special needs in the inclusive setup
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Significance of Buddy System for Children with special needs in the inclusive setup


“A buddy will keep you honest and add a dimension of fun to your workout”

As humans, we are born with the drive to relate and connect to others. Fostering emotional connectedness from a young age is a critical foundation for healthy development. Oftentimes, when our children receive a diagnosis, there is a race against time to start services and work on skills that may be lagging. However, what often seems to be missed is the importance of emotional development and building relationships.

All children, regardless of a diagnosis, desire and deserve to have meaningful relationships. In inclusive education, all the students irrespective of their capacities, skills and disabilities are being taught under the same roof. So in the integrated learning system, the buddy system prevails. A buddy system is arranged for disabled students to pair them with one or more regular students.

A buddy is a student who, with their skills and knowledge, can help the other student who is in actual need of that help, this can be academic, social recreational or playing together. This could for instance mean that both spend lunch together. When the disabled student has any questions or requests, their ‘buddy’ will then be ready for them.

Read More: Buddy System: Learning the Importance of Mutual Understanding

The inclusion program instils values in the child through natural experiences that can’t be taught through a textbook or expensive curriculums. Inclusion programs challenge teachers to see the whole child and nurture every child’s emotional self. The buddy system in the inclusive setup not only facilitates cognitive learning but also develops an emotional bonding and attachment with the buddy (In sum it promotes strong empathy, and developmentally appropriate social and emotional emphasis is crucial in creating a successful inclusion program).

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Through structured social/emotional lessons, modelling emotional coaching at the moment, as well as play experiences, children learn that we all have feelings and different coping strategies. Mirror neurons fire in our brains through observation of other human beings. By exposing the children to teachers and caregivers co-regulating with other students and working them through strong emotions, we are laying the groundwork for building empathy. Students also learn how to enter into another child’s world and see the world through another person’s eyes.

Read More: Empathy in Action: Helping Children Navigate Big Emotions

Besides that, the buddy system not only promotes empathy but also enhances communication and interpersonal skills. As adults, an important skill to be successful in life is learning how another individual communicates and tailoring our interactions accordingly. Exposing our children to inclusion settings from an early age helps them to gain an understanding that we all communicate differently. In addition, exposing young children to a variety of communication modalities helps to strengthen and develop language. Above all the buddy system supports each student’s access to the full curriculum and accommodates all learning styles.

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In an age of high-stakes testing, the importance of supporting and enhancing childhood development in an educational setting is often lost. Children need to move and experience to learn. An inclusive setting supports the critical, developmental building blocks for learning that are sometimes not emphasized in all educational settings. The importance of experience and process is lost through the pressure of the “product.”

Multi-sensory learning experiences are critical for all children to access the curriculum through their learning styles. Inclusive settings create a supportive learning environment, engage a variety of learners and create a more responsive learning environment. By exposing children to these types of educational environments from an early age, we are raising children who will grow into empathic adults and create a more inclusive world.

Read more: Strategies for Creating Positive Learning Environments in Classroom

To conclude, it can be said buddy system not only provides an environment of learning for the children but also encourages the child to develop a bond with their peers and could able to assess all the curriculum and academic learning.

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