Kids teaching kids helps all

Published 10:03 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Working on the premise that the best way to learn is to teach, Suffolk Public Schools has had a large increase in recent years of programs that feature middle-school and high-school students working with elementary-school students in various subjects.

That trend continued on Monday, when eighth-graders from the Literacy Strategies class at John F. Kennedy Middle School visited to Booker T. Washington Elementary School to read to youngsters in kindergarten, third and fourth grade.

The older students read Christmas-related stories to the elementary students, asking them to locate the main ideas, supporting details and vocabulary words. The students brought flash cards and even bags of mistletoe to reinforce the words on the page in one particular story, “An Unlikely Parasite: The Mistletoe.”

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Other older students created their own slideshows to go with poems and short stories they had written themselves. There was even a puppet show with characters that represented different synonyms and antonyms.

The interesting thing about all of this is that the middle school students who are participating are in the Literacy Strategies course because they struggle with reading.

The trip to the elementary school helped boost their confidence, Booker T. Washington teacher Christy Whitener said on Monday. For a struggling reader, gaining confidence and being excited enough about reading to practice on a regular basis puts them well on their way to being a better reader.

The little ones got a lot out of it, too, Whitener said. They enjoy seeing and interacting with the older students, who are role models for them. They also got quite a range of teaching styles from their middle-school counterparts, ranging from puppet shows to slide presentations to simply picking out vocabulary words.

All of the teachers and students who were involved in this project should be commended, and we hope they continue and encourage their counterparts to do the same.