The Peer Support concept is based on the belief that at all ages, people absorb ideas and values from their peers. Since positive peer influence is extremely helpful in encouraging supportive behaviours and positive values, the program has developed a model for the effective use of Peer Leaders to assist younger students. This approach is consistent with social learning theory, in which it is proposed that children learn through observation and modelling.
This year we have implemented a peer support program in the Junior Years. Our Year 5 leaders have had specific training in working with groups of students in Year 2 and 3 each fortnight to develop a positive peer culture in our community. The program is a peer led, skills based, experiential learning program and the focus has been on relationships, especially around what to do when making and keeping friends.
It provides our students with a supportive learning environment in which to develop the skills, understandings, attitudes and strategies to improve their mental, social and emotional wellbeing. It particularly develops key skills in resilience, assertiveness, decision making, problem solving and leadership. The students have responded really positively to the program so far this year and we hope to see the many benefits translate into the classroom, playground and wider community.
We spoke to some of the children who led the Peer Support Program to find out more about what they experienced:
Katherine Oliver – ‘I really like peer support because we can make new friends, do activities with them and play games. I think we are helping the Year 2s and 3s by teaching them how to be friends, how to make friends and to cooperate with other students in other year levels.’
Leo Shin – ‘Yes I do like it because although they are having fun they are also learning. I think we are helping the Year 2s and 3s because we are teaching them about friendship, how to be open minded and more of those things.’
Jed Sessarago – ‘I really like it because I think I am helping younger students by teaching them new qualities. I think I am helping the Year 2s and 3s because they are learning good life skills from their older peers.’