There’s plenty to do with school on summer break, for kids and their guardians.
DeSoto kids have choices that range from recreation and fun to serious learning, especially for the younger children playing catch-up. The idea is to keep on the learning track, at least staying involved in the process, making friends, and steering clear of poor choices, district officials said.
For example, DeSoto Middle School’s 21st Century Learning Center/United Way Summer Fun Camp provides a healthy outlet for about 125 children. Day classes available are STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, team sports, drama and performing arts, art/crafts, speeding stacking, board games and yoga. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided during the day, the kids taking a weekend snack home on Friday. The program runs through the end of the month.
Camp centers around weekly themes and classes rotate almost on the hour. There is no cost for the programs and instruction, which are partly funded with grants from United Way and other sources. DeSoto teachers and paraprofessionals run things and are paid with grant funds.
DeSoto kids are also pushing themselves through educational classes and virtual learning, things such as a three-week General Education Diploma class at the Family Service Center, credit retrieval at the middle and high schools, third-grade reading camps, mobile learning labs with books, games and tutoring, as well as teacher development and pacing instruction.
An afternoon class at Memorial Elementary is a reading and spelling lab for third-graders either not hitting state benchmarks or who have struggled. The Barton Reading and Spelling System is a literacy program targeted to kids with limited language or learning history, for instance. Instructors work with a phonetic device relating sounds and symbols to speech and developing language fluency. One instructor working with a 7-year-old uses the device to prompt the girl. That learning translates to simple sentences in a book, which the child seemed to master quickly. She started the program in early June with limited skills. But today completing a three-word sentence from her reader, sounding the words out with a forefinger tracing the sentence, has those watching erupting in cheers, the youngster high-fiving Lori Safford, the DeSoto paraprofessional working with the child.
The idea behind summer programs is to keep kids “involved in activities that are challenging, keep them ready and not allow summer to become stagnant,” said Adrian Cline, superintendent overseeing the district’s 750 staffers ... and the kids.
DeSoto schools also serve summer meals, provide other training to staff and hunt for new faces in a state starved for teachers, Cline said.