School Start Buddy: Create a world of opportunities for your child

Help your child learn to read and write before starting school and/or during their early school years with this exciting and effective teacher-designed resource

“School Start Buddy is brilliant. It has been a fantastic resource in helping my sons build the foundational skills in both reading and writing. My sons love the engaging and interactive activities and I love the quality time I get to spend with my boys, watching them grow and learn.”

Rosie Perre

R/1 teacher and parent of three boys aged 5, 7, and 9

  • Would you like to give your child a head start with reading and writing before they begin formal education?

  • Do you want to teach your child literacy the right way, using a teacher-created resource that complements the primary school system?

  • Are you worried your child might struggle with reading and writing, falling behind in class?

  • Are you keen to boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem in the classroom from the very first day?

  • Do you want to invest in a versatile, effective and long-term resource that can be used before your child starts school, as well as during their early years?

  • Are you a teacher who would like to use School Start Buddy in the classroom, like so many other teachers already do?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then the School Start Buddy is perfect for you.

Hi, I’m Sharona Edwards, I’m a primary school teacher, literacy coordinator and mother of four children. I’m also the creator of the School Start Buddy. As a child, I constantly struggled with literacy, which made me feel embarrassed, self-conscious and frustrated. Not only that, the fact that everyone around me was spelling beautifully and just ‘getting it’ made me feel demoralised. Unfortunately, it meant I didn’t reach my full academic potential at school.

The good news is that I overcame my literacy challenges later in life, and as a result, I’ve become passionate about teaching literacy skills to children, and ensuring every parent has tools and resources to help their child read and write – especially in those early, important, foundational years. The spelling resources I’ve created are exactly the type of resources my own mother longed for when I was a child.

I’m humbled to say that my programs are loved by parents, enjoyed by children, praised by teachers, and have even received the tick of approval by organisations such as Specific Learning Difficulties Association of SA (SPELD SA), where I’ve delivered student workshops.

How the School Start Buddy works

The School Start Buddy is specifically designed for children who are preparing to start school or who are in the early stages of school.

The handbook provides easy, step-by-step guidelines to use the School Start Buddy to help teach your child to read and write.

The case contains:

  • 57 magnetic letters

Magnetic letters are an effective resource for teaching children letter sounds, as well as how to read and write words.  The design of the case ensures it is quick and easy for children to find the letter they are looking for.
  • 24 blank magnetic sentence blocks

The magnetic sentence blocks are designed to make it fun and easy for children to transition from reading and writing words to reading and writing whole sentences.
  • 1 Small magnetic whiteboard eraser

The small size allows children to erase just one letter at a time, leading to more confidence and less frustration.
  • 2 whiteboards

Children feel more confident to write on whiteboards because any mistakes they make can be easily erased. The two whiteboards allow all the magnetic resources to be clearly displayed on one board, while the other board is free to play and learn on.
  • 1 whiteboard marker

  • 100 blank sight word cards and 2 alternate colour pens

Most schools require children to learn to read sight words (the most commonly used words). The handbook explains how your child can learn to read sight words by using the cards, pens and other resources inside the School Start Buddy.
  • 1 School Start Handbook

This is a guide to teaching a child to read and write. All the activities utilise the resources inside the School Start Buddy case.

Parents: Why Choose School Start Buddy?

√ Give your child the best start to school

Literacy, which includes reading, writing and spelling, is the foundation of all learning at school, and beyond. By equipping your child with literacy skills before starting school, you give them a priceless head start, strengthening their ability to learn from day one, and for their entire school life.

√ Give your child the gift of confidence

Starting school can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Your child is adjusting to a new environment, new routine, new adults and new friends. Equipping them with literacy skills can improve their communication skills and help them feel more confident during the transition.

Also, when literacy is introduced in the classroom, your child will feel relaxed and comfortable with the concepts, because they’ve already been exposed to them. Children who are confident at school tend to enjoy school more, and readily embrace learning.

√ Feel empowered

Many parents want to teach their child to read and write before school, but think they need special skills to do this. That’s not the case at all. Teaching a child how to read and write is quite simple, if you understand You don’t need special skills or training, you simply need the right resource and easy, step-by-step guidelines. That’s exactly what you get with School Start Buddy!

√ Encourage a love of learning

The School Start Buddy is about discovering words. Words are the basis of every aspect of our lives, so by promoting a love of them, promotes a love of learning. An early exposure to words encourages great thinkers and wonderful learners!

My daughters love using the School Start Buddy; we have used it in all different ways. The use of a whiteboard and marker is a fun way to write or record ideas, and the magnetic letters and sentence blocks are an easy way to make words and sentences. The School Start Buddy has been an essential tool in both my children’s early literacy development.

Melanie Angeleski

Mother of 6 year old and 4 year old girls

√ Quality time

Some of your most treasured moments can be spent around the School Start Buddy, enjoying time together. It can be slotted into your day as ‘game’ time, which doubles up as quality time.

√ Avoid the learning ‘traps’ of online programs

Computer programs and apps can give the impression of understanding and learning, all without parental guidance. However, your child might be just going through the on-screen motions, not quite grasping literacy concepts or understanding them correctly.

With the School Start Buddy you can see whether your child is understanding the concepts, and can tailor the ‘play’ accordingly.

√ Improve dexterity

The School Start Buddy is a completely ‘hands-on’ resource, allowing your child to manipulate and play with the letters, words and sentences. They’ll enjoy a tactile experience that will encourage fine motor skills and a love of learning.

√ Convenience

When my children were younger, I found lots of great literacy ideas online or in magazines, but rarely implemented them because I didn’t have the equipment.

The School Start Buddy not only gives you activity ideas and easy-to-follow guidelines, but it provides the actual resource. This is why I created it in the first place, so that parents and teachers would have everything at the tip of their busy fingers. There’s no mess either because everything is within the case. Simply open it when you’re ready, close it when you’re done.

√ Easy and effective to use

You don’t need a teaching degree to use the School Start Buddy with your child because it’s designed to make it simple to teach fundamental reading and writing skills.

As an experienced teacher I know that when children are learning to read, they have to learn to use three reading cues: knowing that what they’re reading ‘looks right’, ‘sounds right’, and ‘makes sense’. When you use the blank magnetic sentence blocks from the School Start Buddy with your child, you are inadvertently teaching them to use the three reading cues. Easy as that!

√ Useful and unique gift idea

Take advantage of our gift package (save $100) and give a unique gift to a child who is excited about starting school.

√ Teach and ‘play’ to suit your child’s specific needs

With School Start Buddy, you can individualise how much you want to ‘play’ and teach, whether your child has started school or not. For example:

  • Teach your child how to write their own name, as well as other important words in their life. The Handbook shows you how to do this using the magnetic letters.
  • Teach your child to make sentences from their school reader using the blank magnetic sentence blocks. The handbook will show you how.
  • Teach your child words from their school spelling list.

 Give your child the gift of confidence and literacy

Buy School Start Buddy

School Start Buddy for teachers

Although I originally designed and created the School Start Buddy as a parent resource, it has been avidly embraced as a teacher resource. In fact, my Supporting Jolly Phonics program involves every child using a School Start Buddy in the classroom.

“The School Start Buddy, developed by Sharona Edwards, has become a fundamental resource in the explicit teaching of literacy at St Albert’s Catholic School. Used in partnership with all families in the junior years, the School Start Buddy has re-defined the learning experience and delivered results beyond our expectations. Our parents have commented that their children love doing ‘school buddy homework’ and find the resource to be engaging and fun. The resource is especially beneficial for those who response well to tactile and visual learning stimuli. The School Start Buddy has become a permanent feature of the literacy landscape at St Albert’s School.”

Brett Czechowski

Principal, St Albert's Catholic School, Loxton

√ Tried, tested and terrific. Students and teachers love it!

The School Start Buddy has been tested and tweaked in the most rigorous learning environment possible, the classroom! And it’s been assessed by the toughest crowd possible, school students!

I’m delighted that students and teachers have given the School Start Buddy the thumbs up for: ease-of-use, effectiveness and enjoyment. Children love their ‘suitcase’, which they proudly open during literacy time.

√ Complements your school program

This resource works perfectly with any foundational literacy program.

Use School Start Buddy as a ‘hands-on’ learning tool, covering:

  • Letter sounds
  • Letter formation
  • Blending skills
  • Hearing sounds and writing words
  • Reading and writing sight words
  • Reading and writing sentences
  • Alphabet skills
  • Vowel and consonant letters

√  Save precious time 

All the resources you need are at your fingertips. The children simply get their cases out and follow your directions. No setting up, no packing away. Easy!

√ Improve the connection between home and school

We all know how much children benefit from parent support with reading and writing. When parents provide their children with one-on-one support, just for 10 minutes a night, it increases results in your classroom dramatically. Many schools are aware of this and take advantage of our bulk prices, giving every foundation year student their very own School Start Buddy to use at home. This has: set their school apart from others, inspired children to love their ‘suit case’ and literacy, and created a powerful connection with parents who love the support and ‘fun’ homework option.

“I love playing with my ‘toy’ homework!”

Campbell Vowels

5 year old boy

√ Help parents who want more support

There are lots of parents who are eager to know how they can further support their child with foundational literacy skills. The School Start Buddy is the perfect resource to recommend, because it is easy to use, gives them quality time with their children, and all the handbook activities support Early Literacy Skills from the Australian Curriculum.

√ Ignite even more fun, passion and participation in the classroom

Nurture your students’ thirst for literacy knowledge by making reading and writing even more fun.

The School Start Buddy provides a completely different approach to learning. It engages students and is inclusive of all their needs.

√ Created by a literacy trainer

Aside from being a literacy coordinator and primary school teacher, I also conduct workshops at SPELD SA that run for approximately 3 hours. I’m also hired to train onsite at Adelaide schools.

√ No need for excessive worksheets

The School Start Buddy is a hand-on resource with corresponding activities. It is a great way to mix-up the learning activities in your classroom.

√ Caters to all literacy levels

School Start Buddy caters for a variety of learning needs so that every child can achieve foundational literacy skills. For example, children who have poor fine motor skills are often reluctant to write. The magnetic letters allow these children to learn writing skills, such as hearing sounds in words, without actually having to write the word. The whiteboard then safely transitions children to writing words and sentences, because they can easily erase any mistakes.

The magnetic whiteboard and letters give our son the opportunity to make words and sounds in a fun interactive way while his handwriting skills are developing. The multiple ways in which the School Start Buddy can be used keeps the kids interested and excited to learn.

Stacey Jaeschke

Mother of 6 year old boy and 8 year old girl

√ Easy and time efficient to use

We all know how good magnetic letters are for helping children hear, locate and blend sounds. They also allow children to ‘play’ with words and make connections between words according to a common sound or word family. In the past, using magnetic letters has been a time consuming process. The School Start Buddy has all the magnetic letters clearly displayed on one whiteboard, making it easy and quick for children to find the letters they need.

√ Students develop sorting and organisational skills

At the end of each lesson, you can ask children to spend a few minutes placing all their magnetic letters neatly on one of the whiteboards inside their case, which not only keeps the case tidy and ready for the next learning session, but helps them develop sorting and organisational skills.

√ Meet budgetary restrictions with bulk pricing

Purchase just one School Start Buddy for your classroom, or save money by purchasing the cases in bulk. A number of schools provide every student with a School Start Buddy at the start of their first year of school.

√ Outdoor group work

The magnetic letters don’t blow away, so your students can enjoy outdoor group work when the weather is favourable.

√ Boost enrollments by setting your classroom and your school apart

As you know, there can be stiff competition between schools. Promoting the fact that you use this innovative literacy resource can set your school apart from others.

√ Support for new teachers

I remember what it was like in my first year of teaching, particularly teaching the foundation year, because I had to figure out where to start teaching a child to read and write. I wish I had access to the handbook during my first year! If I did, I would have known the exact process I need to follow to teach a child to read and write. If you are still finding your feet in the classroom, then the School Start Buddy is a valuable resource that will help you immensely.

Are you ready to give your child or students the gift of literacy, helping to boost their confidence and reach their full potential at school and beyond? If so, consider buying the School Start Buddy, either individually or in bulk enjoying discounted pricing. Please contact me with your questions, and/or sign up to my newsletter to receive great reading tips and product offers.



Share This