Some California elementary schools have just introduced a new “buddy bench” to their playground. The idea of a buddy bench is to provide a sort of conversation starter, as in to help kids feel included and make friends.
Dorothea Lange Elementary School is the newest school to install a buddy bench, down in San Luis Obispo County on the coast. The bench sits on the edge of the school’s playground, and when a student is feeling lonely or excluded, he or she simply takes a seat on the bench. The idea is that one of the other students who notices the sitting student would then come over to chat, and then invite the sitting student to play, or just have a conversation. Other schools in the district have had the bench in place for some time now, and it seems to be working.
The idea is reported to come from a school in Germany. A student at a Pennsylvania school saw a picture of a buddy bench in a book, and thought he’d try to introduce the idea to his school. That school in Pennsylvania became the first American school to introduce a buddy bench. The idea has since been becoming implemented at schools all across the country, most recently right here in California.
The school’s Principal, Michael Flushman, says “We wanted to provide an opportunity for students who were feeling left out or lonely to be included… We also wanted to provide an opportunity for students to make new friends if they wanted to.” It seems like a cool idea, but do you think that it might start giving children the idea that people need to approach them to begin relationships instead of feeling like they can go out and make friends on their own? Or do you think it’s just a cool and harmless way for kids to reach out to other children and help them feel welcome? Check out some more details on the buddy bench here.