Being a peer
buddy provides a chance for students with and without disabilities to work
together in inclusive educational settings.
Being a peer buddy increases access for students with disabilities to
both the general curriculum and to all of the activities of a typical high
school student. Additionally, being a
peer buddy encourages positive social interactions and social relationships to
develop between students with and without disabilities.
programs pair students with and without disabilities who are able to work
together on the basis of their unique strengths. In the past, we typically
talked about student “peer tutors” as opposed to “peer buddies”. However, peer buddy programs really transcend peer tutoring programs by
focusing on the relationship that is
formed: a relationship of equal
partnership in growth and learning, rather than one of student and tutor. It is
because of this focus on relationships that peer buddy programs have such great
potential for encouraging social learning on the part of both students with and
In the peer
buddy modules, students without disabilities will learn about the history of
discrimination against people with disabilities and their journey to gain
inclusion in public education, as well as ways that they themselves can
advocate for and help their buddies to plan for their futures. Peer buddies can
help the students they support to develop their own goals, monitor their own progress, and reach their intended
outcomes under the guidance of their teachers. The day-to-day activity of a
peer buddy can certainly change, depending upon the kinds of learning
activities planned. Together, peer buddies (students with and without
disabilities) can work on their lessons in general education classes, go on
Community Based Instruction, do service learning activities together,
participate in extracurricular activities with one another, or eat lunch
together. Every day will prove to be different, and hopefully will be an
opportunity to learn all that they have to offer each other.
Typically, peers are paired with students with
disabilities in the classroom and serve as “buddies” who are there to provide
support with school work (working in small groups, responding to questions,
summarizing key ideas, etc.), offer advice, and just be a friend. The peer
buddy is usually a student who is interested in providing support, who
understands the requirements of the classroom, is comfortable with the subject
matter, and would like to bring the student with a disability into his or her
circle of friends. The benefits of Peer Buddy Programs extend to all students
involved. The biggest benefits gained from the Peer Buddy Programs are the
building of friendships and relationships, development of social skills, positive
academic outcomes, and developing a more positive outlook on life (Carter &
Hughes, 2008) – and this is true for both students with and without
important to remember that Peer buddies are friends, role models, guides, and
above all peers. They are not teachers, disciplinary figures, instructional
assistants, behavior modifiers, or supervisors.
Carter, E. W.,
Cushing, L. S., & Kennedy, C. H. (2009). Peer support strategies for
improving all students' social lives and learning. Baltimore: Paul H.
Brookes Publishing Co.