After a year of distanced learning, students are getting a chance to enhance their skills at one of Charles public schools’ summer boost programs.

The programs, which started July 7 and run through Aug. 5, take place at eight elementary schools in the county and all of the district’s high schools, and offer students a chance to boost their academic skills.

On Monday, Southern Maryland News was allowed a tour of the Mary B. Neal Elementary School, where an estimated 160 students from Neal, T.C. Martin and Eva Turner elementary schools were participating in the program.

“They come off the bus, out of the car and 99.9% of them are big smiles, and they continue to come back,” Trisha Aguilera, site coordinator for the Neal summer boost site, said.

Students meet each week for four days, Monday through Thursday, to work on math, reading and other certain skills.

Devetta Price, one of the teachers, said that her first graders were reviewing letter sounds, reading, addition and other skills.

In a nearby room, teacher Paris Phipps was working with her students through a reading worksheet featuring matching puzzles and other activities.

Upstairs, teacher Annabel Russell walked second graders through a math program with a spillover game, using large foam dice to roll for a number. Students then color in with a crayon the number of boxes on the work sheet, students continue the process with a different crayon color in the remaining boxes, spilling over to the next line when that particular row is filled.

Aguilera said that doing hands-on activities helped students with the retention of skills by combining games with educational enrichment.

Meighan Hungerford, director of elementary schools, said the games also provide an opportunity to infuse learning at home.

“Students that like these games will take them home and replicate them with their friends and siblings outside of school,” Hungerford said.

When not playing educational games, students also learning from programs developed by Imagine Learning and DreamBox.

Hungerford said the programs were being used on a limited basis in the summer boost program so that students that cannot attend can still log on and do activities.

The summer boost programs were also an opportunity for students to get some much needed exercise.

During the visit, third graders under the tutelage of Tracy Parham were getting some quality time outside on an overcast but dry Monday morning.

While inside the gym, Anastasia Reynolds led children in a physical education class, playing music and students skipped around a course outlined by cones.

Aguilera said physical activity was a great “brain break” to keep students from sitting all day, and to help with their focusing.

Physical activity also allowed for students to readjust to learning in a social setting, Hungerford said, something many of these students were not accustomed to after a year of distanced learning.

Hungerford said that the district will look at how students and teachers fair with the programs, and some materials from summer boost will be carried into the upcoming school year.

Extended learning opportunities through after school programs and other activities would also be offered in the coming school year.

Twitter: @DarrylSoMdNews

Twitter: @DarrylSoMdNews