Information on Peer Buddies for Parents and Families

This web site has been created as a flexible tool to better enable teachers across Kentucky to create, improve, and maintain effective peer buddy programs within their schools. Each teacher will choose which materials to use in her or his class and make decisions regarding how students will use the chosen materials. Your son or daughter may have expressed interest, have already chosen, or is currently taking part in this unique opportunity.

Purpose of Peer Buddy Programs  - The purpose of a peer buddy program is to provide a credited elective class for students to gain experience working with same-age peer students with significant cognitive or intellectual disabilities in educational settings. Peer buddy programs allow for positive social interaction and social relationships to develop between students with and without significant disabilities, as well as provide a natural form of support in the classroom for students with disabilities. The potential for growth for your son or daughter through participating in this program is limitless.

As a parent or family member, you can use this site to: 

  • familiarize yourself with the activities your son or daughter will be experiencing
  • find resources to further your own knowledge about the power of peers, as well as important elements in services and supports for persons with disabilities
  • encourage your son or daughter to use this time and the provided activities to reflect on the experience
  • become more familiar with the concepts of inclusion and least restrictive environment as it applies to all children and youth     

Inclusion is the term used when a student with a disability participates in general education classes with modifications and/or adaptations. The modifications and adaptations can include anything from extended time on assignments, modified goals and objectives, adapted tests, specialized seating and positioning requirements, or individualized behavioral plans. Modifications and adaptations depend on the needs of the student related to their disability, and their specific strengths and weaknesses. One important purpose of an inclusive classroom is to bring students with disabilities into more of the “mainstream” of the typical high school student experience. While in an inclusive class, students with disabilities will learn more than just the academics and their own targeted goals, they will also learn valuable social skills that will help them to live successfully in society outside of school. The use of peer buddies in the general education classroom is one way that students with disabilities can be supported in a natural manner, as might happen in the workplace or college later on, as well as for the peer buddy to gain invaluable experiences and friendships. 

An essential part of inclusion is also participation in those other aspects of school that are so important (extracurricular activities and school clubs, service learning opportunities, school dances, and so on).  Your son or daughter may also want to provide support to his or her peer buddy in these activities, and to introduce his or her peer buddy to a broader network of friends.  If your son or daughter wishes to be involved in this way, this can be very important in terms of extending the social network and sense of belonging for his or her peer buddy – indeed, this goes to the very heart of inclusion!

There are many benefits for your son or daughter in being involved in this course.   First is the opportunity to learn about and to truly appreciate individual differences.  Secondly is the opportunity to learn about special education in general, as well as the importance of community inclusion, the rights of all individuals, and the role that each of us has in fostering one another’s growth as individuals. 


There is also research that indicates that being a peer buddy actually enhances the learning for your son or daughter – when he or she teaches or assists another student in learning important content, then your son or daughter will actually increase his or her own learning of that content.  Finally, being a peer buddy opens up a whole world of career opportunities, one with a very strong future job market, a fact so important for the times in which we live.  Your son or daughter will not only have  a very rewarding experience as a peer buddy, he or she will also learn a great deal, and may even find a fulfilling career for life.  You may want to check out the Careers in Special Education module yourself !


Take your time exploring what the peer buddy program and this website has to offer, and take advantage of the opportunity to discuss this with your son or daughter throughout the course of the school year. He or she will likely have a great deal of new knowledge and experiences to share.