SIKESTON -- Years ago, summer school was a dreaded place for children -- and their teachers. It meant staying indoors, doing homework and missing out on all the fun. Today, at least for elementary schools, fun continues to take place inside the school even after the final bell rings to end the regular school year.
While several area schools, such as Sikeston and Charleston, just ended their school year last week, a few like Thomas W. Kelly, Oran R-3 and Scott County Central, headed back to the classroom Tuesday.
Although each school varies, the summer school program generally consists of four weeks of special programs or themes implemented into the learning process. Each school program provides enrichment and remedial lessons.
At Kelly Elementary School, each week takes on a different theme, Principal Fara Jones said. The first week is "Space the Final Frontier," the second week is "Wonderful World of Animals," the third is "Food Around the World" and the final week's theme will be "Water Wonder World."
"Teachers tie the lessons in with hands-on learning, as opposed to the traditional, sitting-at-the-desk routine," Jones said.
Scott County Central has only been out a week, and the kids came back Tuesday, saying they were already bored from being out of school, Scott County Central Elementary Principal Joanne Northern said.
Scott County Central offers a variety of enrichment and remedial lessons. Extra help is also available for the Missouri Assessment Program test, she added. The school also offers special classes in music, computers and swimming, Northern stated.
Scott County Central's summer school program has one overall theme for this year's four-week session. The theme this year is "United We Stand." A patriotic slant is used for each subject such as social studies, science or geography, she explained.
At Oran, the elementary classes are normally excluded from family and consumer science classes, but during this year's summer school, the elementary students will receive a dose of cooking lessons each day. They're also planning field trips, including one to Grant's Farm in St. Louis, Oran Elementary and Middle School Counselor Kristy Unger said.
Both Scott County Central and Kelly schools are also planning field trips for the summer session.
Students aren't the only ones who want to have fun in the summer. "The teachers want to have a good time, too," Jones said. "The summer provides a great opportunity for a teacher to try something new in the classroom. There's generally a smaller number of students in class so there are fewer limitations."
Both Kelly and Scott Central's summer school programs are slated for students prekindergarten through 12th grade, while Oran's program is for students prekindergarten through sixth grade. Jones did admit that the elementary students probably have more fun than the high school students who are mainly there for credit recovery.
"We try to make it (summer school) fun and enticing to the kids," Jones said. "A lot of the kids are learning and they don't even realize it. This morning, a first grade class was studying propulsion with rockets. The teacher had a film canister and put seltzer in it. When the lid popped off, the students got to measure how far the lid traveled. They just loved it."
Northern and Unger said enrollment for the summer session remains consistent to the regular school year. From parents working to summer school being fun to kids getting to go places and see friends, are all contributing factors to high summer school enrollment, Northern and Unger agreed.
"In summer school, teachers are able to take teaching a little step further," Jones said. "There's more emphasis with the themes in summer school than in a regular school year. And that creates more excitement for the kids."