BICA

A teacher looks on with a student at Best in Class Allen. Priya Venkat, owner of Best in Class Allen, encourages parents to do activities with their children such as nature walks, counting produce during grocery store trips and writing a daily journal to keep their minds active over summer break.

Ice cream, bike rides, family vacations, sleeping in: ask any kid and they’ll say summer is their favorite time of year.

However, many parents worry about their children falling behind academically during summer vacation. It’s a valid concern, but one that can be overcome through an integration of activities into a child’s everyday life.

Priya Venkat, owner of Best in Class Allen, an education enrichment center, said children can benefit from simple, daily activities that won’t even seem like school work.

“Take the kids grocery shopping. This is a great way to actually practice the math skills,” she said. “Just have them count apples and oranges. It’s a fun way of learning math rather than sitting with a piece of paper. Cut an orange into four and show them what it is.”

In addition to math, Venkat said reading is a great way to keep kids’ minds active and sharp. While reading may not sound like fun to children especially in the era of electronics, it is an activity that stimulates learning but can be done in an entertaining way, Venkat said.

“[Do] about 15 to 20 minutes of reading time for the kids every day. Take them to the library and check out as many books as they can,” she said. “Anything that the kids enjoy to read. Anything from fiction to nonfiction, anything that excites them, let them read it. You can make it more fun by letting them read aloud to their family. That helps them with their skills of a public speaker as well. That kind of makes it more of a fun family occasion.”

Getting outside is good for children as well. The outdoor setting tends to engage children more intensely with hands-on, real-world experience than the classroom might, Venkat said.

“The best time to take the kids outdoors is spring time,” she said. “Take the kids out, do the star gazing with your children. Start talking to them about solar systems, moon phases and rotations of the earth. A very good activity is to go outside and show them where the stars is and then return to the same spot an hour later and see how much they have moved. This is a good activity for the kids, especially at night when the sky is clear and they can actually read about the solar systems and actually make sense of it in the real world what they learn in the book in looking at the sky.”

While outer space is full of wonders fascinating to children, there are plenty of easy opportunities back here on Earth for kids to have fun while learning, Venkat said.

“Nature walks are excellent for the kids. They are full of endless lessons about the world around us. I would encourage kids to buy a book about birds or plants and then start relating them to real life,” she said. “Take them outside, show them the plant, show them the book and read about the habitat. Read about the birds, see the bird and then see those birds outside and you’d be able to relate that.

“Weather permitting, take the kids for a bike ride. This actually helps them because it’s an athletic activity and then just ask them, ‘Hey, how many miles did we go?’” Venkat continued. “Let’s convert them into kilometers, metric to standard. They learn the conversion right there.”

Any parent knows it can be difficult to pry their kids away from their electronic devices, but Venkat said those can be fun, yet educational.

“There are some really good reading and writing apps out there,” she said. “Those are really good for the kids when they’re traveling or driving long distances. Khan Academy does a lot of science and biology and focus math programs which are excellent for children of all ages.”

Best in Class Allen will offer summer programs for children to maintain and enhance their knowledge during the 11-week break. For more information on enrolling a child, visit bestinclasseducation.com or call 972-656-9242.

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