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Skipping recess? Kids at PS-IS 206 give up free time to help younger kids learn to read

Skipping recess: PS-IS 206 eighth grader Max Olsenko gave up recess for months to help kindergartner Nikolas Markov learn to read.
Brooklyn Daily

Sometimes students make the best teachers.

A group of 80 fifth-through-eighth-grade students at PS-IS 206 in Sheepshead Bay have been cutting their recess short for the past few months to help their younger colleagues in kindergarten-through-second grade improve their reading skills.

“These kids are giving up their recess twice a week to help other kids learn to read,” said Alli Giordano, a literacy coach at the Sheepshead Bay public school. “I think they deserve a little recognition.”

Yes, there are actually kids who are willing to give up recess — of their own free will — to read to younger children and help them with learning exercises designed by Giordano.

Giordano insist that none of the kids at the school are forced to participate in the program, and yet every year she says she gets plenty of eager volunteers.

“It’s totally voluntary and I explain that to them,” she said. “They’re totally into it. They want to do it.”

The program has demonstrated considerable benefits to both the tutors and their students. Not only do the little ones become stronger readers, but the older kids earn a sense of pride — not to mention a little friend.

“All the kids love their teachers, but when other kids help them, it makes a world of difference,” said Giordano. “They’re so excited to see them, some of them give presents and they often develop a relationship.”

The literacy coach rewards her pint-sized teachers occasionally with snacks and pencils, and at the end of the year she gives out prizes to graduating participants for their hard work and the sacrifice of their precious recess time.

“I go nuts and either give them snacks, or pencils, and then at the end of the year they get community service hours — and if they’re graduating, they get a little reward,” she said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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