‘We get to help them read:’ Seminole County school pairs 4th graders and kindergarteners in reading program

Reading Buddies at Evans Elementary meet twice a month

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A Seminole County elementary school is getting results by pairing fourth graders and kindergarteners in its Reading Buddies program. Students at Evans Elementary meet twice a month for the program.

“We get to bring books, and we get to sit with the kindergartners and read our books to them, and then they get to read the books to us. And we get to help them read,” said fourth grader Autumn Redfield. “It feels happy like I get to teach someone how to do something and get better at it.”

Fourth-grader Tyler Ridinger explained to News 6 Anchor Julie Broughton how Reading Buddies works.

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“He reads his book, and then I read my book. And there are questions on the board we have to answer – like who was the main character, what was the setting and what was the topic? And if we’re done, we can go get another book,” Ridinger said. The same buddy pairs stay together the entire school year. Kindergarten teacher Emma Alderson says reading is the main focus, but these relationships also help build community.

“At the beginning of the year, they’re almost scared of the big kids, and they don’t know how to react. So, giving them that exposure to older grades I think is really helpful for them to feel comfortable at school. Not only do they see the big kids reading at such a high level and they want to get there someday, but they also want to impress their buddies. There’s kind of that level of respect and awe of the big kids and they want to be like that,” Alderson said. “And my absolute favorite thing about this job is when a child picks up a book and can read it for the first time. They are so excited, they start to build that level of reading, and it’s really the foundation of everything they’ll do for the rest of their schooling career and the rest of their lives.”

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Fourth-grade teacher Tiffany Schmidt says the program helps her students model good behavior for the younger students.

“They definitely step up their game. All of their behaviors, anything that might be out of the ordinary they usually reel it in. They’re just great role models. They model reading. They show the kids fluency by reading to them. They’ve been helping the kids track their words by pointing to each word as they read,” said Schmidt. " By the end of the year, I mean they’re high-fiving each other. They miss their buddy when they graduate to go on to the next grade. It’s just building those relationships that these kids need.”

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About the Author

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.

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