Buddy Benches – Have You Heard of Them?

Some children find it harder than others to initiate play and some are less confident socially. As a way to support these children and give them a supported way to learn these skills, the buddy bench can work wonders.

What is a Buddy Bench?

The concept of a buddy bench is to provide a place in the school playground where children can go if they are feeling lonely and would welcome some company or someone to invite them to play. A sort of safe haven in the chaos of the playground.

This initiative is working with great success across the world. The idea started in America and quickly spread across the world with the help of the internet and social media.

School benches come in all shapes and sizes and the buddy bench can be painted or colourful, or two benches facing each other to support and encourage conversation and interaction. Whatever the chosen configuration, the concept remains the same. A place to go to when you would like a ‘buddy’ to come and offer their support and perhaps to ask you to play.

This concept can help to foster supportive, kind and caring behaviours in all students. Playground assistants and teachers can also use it as a way of seeing clearly which children may require some social support and intervention, who may otherwise be missed in a busy playground.

How the Buddy Bench Works

In order for a buddy bench to work the children need to know how to use it. This is why it is essential that once you have decided you will install one you come up with the rules associated with it. These then need to be effectively communicated to the children before you expect them to use the bench. All new students should be introduced to the buddy bench as part of your school’s policies.

The Basic Rules of a Buddy Bench are:

If you are going to sit on the bench…

  • Before you sit on down, try approaching someone else and ask them to play with you
  • Only sit on the bench if you can’t find someone to play with
  • If you see a friend or something you want to try, go and join in!
  • When you are sitting on the bench, play with the first person who comes up to asks you to join their game

If you see someone sitting on the buddy bench…

  • Go over to them and start by saying hello and introducing yourself
  • Ask them what the problem is or start a conversation
  • Suggest something they can do with you or invite them to join with your game
  • Don’t make this the only time you hang out with them, continue to be their friend and play with them at other times

If you like the idea and would like to implement this in your school our shop has a range of colourful benches to choose from.