Send kids off to college this summer for mix of fun, learning

Elise Zwicky for Chronicle Media

Area kids learned discipline and defense in a Tae Kwon Do class at ICC’s College for Kids program last summer. Registration is underway for two College for Kids sessions being offered in June and July. (Photo courtesy of Illinois Central College)

With summer just around the corner, parents looking for stimulating activities for their kids might consider sending them to college.

Both Illinois Central College and Bradley University offer summer classes for kids featuring learning in a fun environment. ICC’s program is offered to all kids in grades 4 through 12, while Bradley classes are geared for academically gifted kids in grades first through eight.

“The overall goal of the program is just to have a mixture of fun with learning and for kids to form new friendships,” said Ellen George, ICCs dean of corporate and community education. “We try to disguise academics into fun topics.”

Michelle Riggio, Bradley University’s associate director of continuing education, said Bradley’s program is “a really neat experience for the kids to be on campus,

Students in ICC’s College for Kids program strategized, coded and battled with their creations in last year’s Robot Revolution class. (Photo courtesy of Illinois Central College)

develop their love of learning and really let them continue to grow throughout the summer.”

ICC’s College For Kids’ two sessions run Monday through Thursday June 12-22 and July 10-20. Off-site field trips are offered on Fridays during those weeks. Most of the two-hour classes cost about $80, although some cost more depending on what materials are needed.

Bradley’s World of Wonder classes run Monday through Friday June 19-23 and July 31-Aug. 4. Up to three classes may be taken each day at a cost of $99 per class.

Both colleges offer after-class recreational activities for an added fee with pick-up by parents or caregivers at 5 p.m.

Kids in Bradley University’s World of Wonder program worked with Legos last summer. Enrollment is currently underway for this year’s program, which runs June 19-23 and July 31-Aug. 4. (Photo courtesy of Bradley University)

Both programs have been offered for at least 25 years. Bradley’s World of Wonder program began in 1983 as part a Peoria County foreign language immersion program.

While ICC’s College for Kids is expanding its programming for high school students this year, the Bradley program has found its niche in serving students in grades first through fourth.

“We start with first graders because that’s part of our focus on enrichment. We want the kids entering first grade to have a little bit of a boost as they enter that level,” Riggio said. “That grade level is very popular within our program and it differentiates us.”

Children entering first through third grade aren’t required to submit test scores for the Bradley program, but children entering grades fourth through eighth must be enrolled in a gifted or talented program at their school, show an achievement test score of one grade level above current grade level, have an IQ score of 120 or above or demonstrate exemplary classroom performance through their most recent report card or teacher recommendation.

Kids in Bradley University’s World of Wonder program took notes during a field class as part of Bradley University’s World of Wonder program last summer. The program is geared for gifted students in grades first through eight. (Photo courtesy of Bradley University)

Home schoolers may submit an essay detailing why they’d like to attend.

Fourteen local certified teachers will instruct the classes this year at Bradley Hall. Last year 282 kids participated in the Bradley program, with many taking multiple classes, Riggio said.

At least six classes are offered at each grade level. Class topics include Fairytale Science for first graders, Urban Legend Creatures for second and third graders, Tiny House in Geometrocity for fourth and fifth graders and a mini United Nations for sixth through eighth graders.

At ICC’s College for Kids, about 335 to 350 kids typically sign up for classes in each of the two sessions with many taking multiple classes.

Among new classes being offered this year are a Music Composer’s Jam Session in which students will use software to compose original music, and a S.T.E.M. Studio, which is a spin-off of the S.T.E.A.M. Heat course for older students. This class option gives younger students an opportunity to use their creativity to build projects in a fun environment as they learn about the components of Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering.

Other classes include Unleashed Life of Pets, Picture Yourself on Pinterest, Urban Legends Across the Globe, Superheroes and Beyond, App Attack and Minecraft.

Expanded offerings for high schoolers at ICC this year include two culinary camps, a theater technical camp and a camp in which students will learn to create their own website, George said.

“It’s just a way to try to engage the high schoolers in special topics that might pique their interest, and then hopefully they’ll come back here in a year or two for college,” she added.

The ICC Friday field trips include horseback riding in Pekin, hands-on fun at the Peoria Art Guild and a mission to Mars at the Challenger Learning Center in Bloomington.

George said classes are taught by ICC staff and local middle school teachers.

“Parents like the program because their kids aren’t just sitting around; they’re learning new things in the summer,” George said. “Kids love it because they feel like a real college student.”

Riggio said kids in Bradley’s World of Wonder program also love being on a college campus and participating in hands-on learning opportunities.

“The parents love the enrichment and the project-based curriculum. This is a fun camp. Kids walk away with their brains full of new information. And they’re surrounded by kids who are like them and who love to learn,” Riggio added.

A limited number of scholarships are available for both the ICC and Bradley programs.

For more information about ICC’s College for Kids, visit the program’s website at or call (309) 690-6900.

For more information about Bradley’s World of Wonder program, visit or call (309) 677-2374.