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Be a Buddy… Not a Bully

Jeffrey Miles
Preschool is the time in a student's school career where they begin to understand and develop healthy relationships with others.
This year, our preschool team has begun implementing The Be a Buddy… Not a Bully program developed by Laurie Gaunt, as a means for strengthening core values including respect towards others, and teaching children not only how to listen, but also the words to engage in conversation with others in their everyday lives. Throughout the curriculum, children learn that while others may look different or act different, we are all valued members of society. Further, they are empowered to build healthy relationships with others and expand their understanding of the world around them. 

Be a Buddy... Not a Bully curriculum presents young children with the opportunity to explore differences, discuss the stages of developing friendships and understand the impact of teasing and bullying. The organization of the curriculum remains consistent with each lesson; the topic is introduced through age-appropriate literature and followed by class discussion. An activity follows, presenting students with hands-on experience. Lastly, whenever possible, guests are invited to relate their experiences with teasing and/or bullying and how special friends made a difference in their lives. Be a Buddy... Not a Bully demonstrates to the students a respect for individuals while encouraging inclusiveness, providing tools for children to live in, and create, caring communities where they become role models not merely for acceptance, but for inclusion.

The curriculum is divided into three units: Embracing Differences, Building Friendships and Buddies not Bullies. Our preschoolers are currently engaged in the Embracing Differences unit of study where they are learning the importance of being yourself, promoting acceptance, understanding and confidence, the importance of friendships and the mutual dependence within friendships, while fostering the acceptance of differences and respecting the value of choice.  Working as a class, they interact with the text and discuss what they have read. The teachers will then lead the students in the production of an activity that highlights the lessons presented in the literature. Lastly, the class comes back together to reinforce the message of acceptance and concludes the lesson.   

A sample lesson from the Embracing Differences unit could look something like: 

Presentation:

Read the fable, “The Lion and the Mouse”, from Eric Carle’s book, The Rabbit and the Turtle.
Discussion:
1. Did the lion think the mouse could be a friend? Why or why not?
2. Can you have a friend who is bigger or smaller?
3. Does it matter what our friends look like?
4. Can friends come in all sizes and shapes? 
Activity:  Illustration of Student and Friend
After the book is read and the discussion is finished, students are asked to draw a picture of themselves with a good friend. They are reminded to show how they are alike and how they are different. Their name and the name of the friend are written under the pictures.
Conclusion: As a whole class, the students recite “Remember that friends come in all sizes and each of us can help one another in many ways.”


Many schools offer diversity programs to their students, but we believe what makes Be a Buddy… Not a Bully unique is its range and depth. One-week or even one-month programs can provide awareness, but they can only scratch the surface. The benefit of spreading a program over an entire year, with possible components in succeeding years, is the ability to integrate it into other educational activities and make the teaching of tolerance a natural part of the whole curriculum. 

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