The idea of the buddy bench was first introduced in 2013 by a young boy named Christian. He felt his elementary school needed a designated place where students could go if they needed someone to play with. The teachers and administrators got on board, and one was soon added to their school playground; from there, the idea of the buddy bench spread around the country and the world. Why did so many latch onto this idea? Does it really have benefits for students? Keep reading to find out.
Encourage New Friendships
It can be difficult to be the kid on the playground who has nobody to play with; and it can be equally difficult to have the courage to approach a group of your peers and ask to join in their play. Fear or simple shyness can cause some children to pull back and sit out of the play because they’re not sure who they can approach to make a new friend.
A buddy bench removes the pressure from the individual child by allowing them to sit in a designated place that tells others they want to play. When other children see this, they can then approach the child on the bench and invite them to join in. Without a buddy bench, that child might have otherwise sat in a corner alone, with their peers unaware that they wanted to play. When a buddy bench is present, new friendships can be forged.
Unfortunately, bullying is very much a reality on many playgrounds, and children who are alone are easy targets. When a child is alone on the playground, bullies may approach them and tease or harm them. Now, you might think that having bench that says, “I have nobody to play with right now,” could make the child a target for bullies. But in fact, the exact opposite is true.
A buddy bench makes the lone child visible to peers and teachers alike, making it less likely that a bully would choose to pick on them. And, because they are signaling to others that they want to play, the child is more likely to be invited into a group to play, no longer making them easy targets for bullies.
Rather than reacting to bullying, the buddy bench is a preventative measure. It helps to ensure that a child’s emotional need to belong is being met. When this happens, not only are they less likely to be picked on, but they are less likely to become a bully as well. In this way, a buddy bench can stop bullying before it even begins.
Encourage Key Social Skills
Buddy benches also enable kids to practice key social skills on their own, in very real situations. It is easy for a child to say, when asked in a classroom setting, that they would invite a lonely peer to play with them; it is quite a different thing to do it. By giving a clear signal that another child is lonely, buddy benches encourage other students to approach and engage in conversation with someone they may not know.
This promotes key social skills like building new relationships, as well as empathy for others. These are the kinds of skills that kids can take with them throughout their lives, helping them to become more understanding, kinder adults.
The benefits of a buddy bench for schools and their students are undeniable and long-lasting. If your school still doesn’t have one, contact Outdoor School Furniture today to design and order your very own.
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