Back-to-School Scheduling | How to Prepare before the First Day of School

Getting Started

Getting back into the school routine can be tough for older students and their parents. Everyone must readjust to early mornings, long academic days, homework, activities, and so on. The stress of juggling so much can be overwhelming and cause unnecessary tension. However, there are ways for students and their families to keep a balanced and healthy schedule when getting back to school and maintain it throughout the year.

The key to achieving a reasonable schedule for older students and parents is to start before the school year begins. The more preparation that takes place before the first day of school, the easier it is for all family members to balance and adjust to the busy schedule.

Make a Calendar

A family calendar can make a big difference when it comes to scheduling during the school year, especially with older students who may have several extracurricular activities. Most school calendars and sports practices are posted over the summer, so families can add “known” events and their dates to the shared calendar before the first day of school. As the year progresses, families can have a “submission” day each week to update the calendar with more specific information.

Last-minute schedule changes will happen, but overall a regularly updated family calendar will help all members have a general idea of what to expect each week. This allows for routine planning and time management, which will decrease overall family stress.

Make Meals

One of the downsides of back-to-school is that with the long, filled days there is less time for preparing and enjoying family meals. Breakfast can be chaotic with everyone getting ready, and many teens opt to sleep a few more minutes rather than eat. Lunches may not offer as many healthy options at school as at home, and dinner is often squeezed in between activities and homework.

The school weekdays may be too hectic for sit-down dinners for the whole family, and that’s understandable. However, it’s still important for teenagers (and parents) to eat healthy meals as much as possible. One solution is to take a little preparation time in the kitchen each weekend so there are healthier options during the busy week. Families can share in cutting fruits and vegetables for snacks and even making larger portions of healthy meals to be refrigerated and eaten during the week. Before school begins, families can make a list of monthly meals to prepare over weekends so that everyone has a share in a healthy food routine.

Waste Time

When students are focused on academics, athletics, activities, and after-school jobs, they often don’t take any time to truly unwind. Many parents are guilty of the same, especially with the amount of screen time and online presence that takes over each day. One healthy activity that family members can do together, yet one of the toughest to schedule, is wasting time. Summer is the perfect chance to build time-wasting into the family routine.

Obviously, on some level, no time is really wasted—especially when family members are together. However, it’s important to remember to take a few minutes each week (or even day) and do nothing. This helps the brain and nervous system experience calm, which can alleviate stress and tension. One idea is for families to set a timer for 5 minutes when together and just visit about a particular topic. Some families may use the time for meditation or to play a game. So long as it’s not outcome-driven, it’s healthy.

Parents and students often clash when getting used to the back-to-school routine. However, preparing some aspects of the schedule before the first day of school can help alleviate tension and stress, and bring a healthy balance to the school year.

STEM in the Summer | Keep the Kids Engaged with Fun Hands On Activities

STEM is a growing buzzword in contemporary education. For those who are unaware, the acronym represents an educational movement that encourages training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is considered crucial to teach these skills to young people because many jobs in the current workforce require them. STEM skills are responsible for sparking some of the world’s most vital accomplishments from discovering entirely new elements to putting a man on the moon. And the need for STEM is not slowing down anytime soon.

With the growing need for expertise in these fields, one can imagine the push to keep these talents alive. In 2018, the Department of Education donated $279 million to various STEM organizations including 66.8 million to Education Innovation and Research and 28.2 to million to Supporting Effective Educator Development. Considering the funds involved, it can be assumed that this is a priority for education spending.

If parents and teachers are not paying close attention to STEM learning, they should be. In fact, summer is a great time to get students involved in extra-curricular STEM learning. Igniting a passion for science, technology, engineering and math can happen at a young age. Through STEM-focused summer programs, students of all ages can learn important skills and develop an interest in these fields.

With some online research, one can find a litany of fantastic STEM camps and programs nearby. Various summer enrichment programs are held all over the United States and internationally. They can range from one week to over a month and are offered online and in person. In these programs, students can expect to learn several hard and soft skills:

Hard skills associated with STEM:

  • Coding
  • Robotics
  • Virtual Reality
  • Programming
  • 3D Printing

Soft skills associated with STEM:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Collaboration

Although summer camps and programs are great for all ages, adolescents might consider more of a challenge. Internships are a wonderful way to gain real-world experience in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Applying for and landing an internship is more of a self-driven process than say, signing up for a camp, but mature and responsible students are very capable. Older students should take advantage of community opportunities and get involved.

The first step to getting a summer internship at a local business is reaching out to them independently. Some organizations will post openings at high schools and online. Try asking a school administrator if the campus has any affiliations with local businesses that they trust. Consider medical facilities, engineering companies, veterinary clinics, etc. Often, students will need to reach out to businesses completely on their own and express interest.

The cooperating businesses might ask for recommendations, a resume or an interview so students should be prepared. Once an internship is earned, the hands-on experience can prove invaluable. The student will leave the internship with in-demand life skills and a glowing resume.

Look for ways students can become involved with STEM programs this summer. For young children, encourage a fun and interesting introduction to these fields.  Older students can seek a challenge and attempt to develop a potential career.

Combating the Summer Slide with Learning Programs

According to the National Summer Learning Association, nine out of ten teachers spend the first three weeks of the school year re-teaching lessons. That means that students are performing about a month behind where they left off the previous year. This is largely due to what is referred to as the Summer Slide, which is a steady decline of learning and retention in the summer months. Fortunately there are affordable ways teachers, administration, and parents can work to avoid this.

Summer programs are offered through public and private schools, colleges, independent organizations, tutoring services, churches and even online. Programs offered through a child’s school is ideal because it can be more affordable than a private program. Often these district programs include camps in the areas of science, creative arts, athletics, STEM, etc. Sometimes they fill up quickly so forward planning is crucial.

Many districts have a calendar of summer events posted online. If a month-long camp is too much of a commitment for families, they can opt for a day activity now and then. If available, parents should get involved and volunteer at programs of interest. This sets a shining example of the lifelong learner all parents want for their children.

Although many districts do offer these programs, they really should be made more of a priority. Staff can ultimately save resources for the upcoming year, not to mention the potential benefit of increased test scores. The low cost of district-offered programs benefit low-income families who are the main victims of the Summer Slide. Parents can contact local school districts to advocate for summer programs in their neighborhood. Educators can talk to administrators to affirm the important of these programs.

For middle and high school-aged students looking to stay engaged and proactive during summer, nearby community colleges offer a wide selection of courses– albeit at a price. This is a great opportunity for adolescents to expand on their skills or pursue a possible career interest. The Best College Reviews Organization compiled a list of impressive summer programs in various colleges around the United States. Teachers and parents can research to find out what is offered in their area.

If price is a concern, an often cheaper option for summer learning is online programs. Some programs are free and others are offered at a low price. These cater to all age groups, but may be more suitable for older students with a substantial attention span. Online schools and organizations offer credit recovery courses, interest-based courses, foreign language courses and many other choices. For families with busy schedules, this is a more flexible option.

Parents, teachers, and administrators should advocate for and support summer programs that benefit students. These programs can serve as a way to prevent summer learning loss and narrow the achievement gap overall. Come fall, students and teachers alike will benefit from the summer learning.

Speaking of Summer – A Summer Presentation to Help Public Speaking

The Public

When most parents reflect on their high school summers, they often remember their summer jobs. Whether babysitting, lifeguarding, or scooping ice cream, most high schoolers used to work at least part-time during summer breaks to earn extra money, work experience, and often a reason to get out of the house.

However, the current tendency for summer high schoolers is to not work outside the home. There are many reasons for this trend, but the primary one may be surprising. Teenagers are not less responsible or motivated to work than their parents. The main reason high schoolers report for not getting summer jobs is that they don’t want to speak in public.

The Fear

Nearly everyone has a fear of public speaking. This brings to mind the old joke that people fear death less than public speaking and would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy. While this is an exaggeration, for high school students the fear is real and it’s getting worse. A majority of teenagers would rather communicate through text or social media than speak directly to people they don’t know.

As students get older, they naturally become more fearful of public speaking. This current escalation may not only interfere with part-time summer employment, but also academic performance when school is in session. Much of high school and college curricula is moving toward class presentation as a means of assessment. In addition, many universities are adding personal interviews to the application process as part of admissions.

Ironically, as the fear of public speaking rises in high school students so does the need to develop such skills. Summer break is an ideal time for students to hone their public speaking skills, and parents can help them do so right at home.

The Pitch

Fear of public speaking is strongly reduced through preparation and practice. Parents have the opportunity during summer break to help their high schoolers through the process. Teens may resist the idea at first, but with support, direction, and potential reward, they will eventually embrace the chance to conquer their fears.

Parents can help their teens set a goal and a timeline for creating a presentation to be given to the family and/or friends. This may seem like a strange assignment for summer but following a step-by-step plan will lead to success for everyone involved.

The Plan

  1. Establish that this summer presentation is for practice only, and that the audience is without judgment. Ideally, all family members could share in the public speaking by creating their own presentations, so the spotlight is not on just one person.
  2. Allow freedom in choosing a topic, and make sure that the presenter is interested and enthusiastic about it.
  3. Set goals for what the presentation should achieve. Should it be informative, entertaining, persuasive? Don’t forget to set and keep a deadline.
  4. Allow each presenter to prepare and organize their material, research if needed, and format their speech.
  5. Encourage use of multi-media visual/audio aids to enhance creativity.
  6. Establish practice sessions to increase confidence.
  7. Set up a reward for completing and delivering the presentation—whether it’s a gift card or another acknowledgement of public speaking success.

The Result

One summer presentation to family and/or friends is probably not enough to eliminate public speaking fear altogether in high school students. However, the preparation and practice can help them reduce future presentation and speaking jitters. With family support, direction, and potential reward, students will be more confident and experienced in public speaking, which will have lifetime benefits.

Summer Card Sharks – Simple Games to Stop Brain Drain

Lazy, Hazy Days

Nearly everyone looks forward to summer, especially elementary school kids. For grades K-6, summer generally means splashing, swinging, and staying far away from academics. Though vacation is a healthy break, it can unfortunately cause what educators call “brain drain” or skill loss.

This skill loss means that on long breaks, most students lose or forget the skills and material they learned during the school year. As a result, they enter the next school year behind grade level and needing to catch up. Many elementary students are likely to read some books over the summer for enjoyment, yet few are eager to sit and do math problems for fun. Therefore, summer math skill loss is nearly double that of reading.

Parents who are motivated for their children to practice math skills over summer often go about it in ways that are expensive, uninspired, and ultimately ineffective. Math camps are costly and tend to undermine the academic freedom that summer brings. Typical summer workbooks mirror the drudgery of homework. And math video games, while fun, add to screen time while also teaching players more about how to “beat” the game rather than actual math skills.

However, the lazy summer days don’t have to make for hazy math with elementary school kids. A simple deck of cards can provide numerous opportunities for students to maintain their math skills and have fun doing so.

Card Games

Card games are an easy and enjoyable way for elementary school kids to enhance their math skills over summer. There are many card games for all ages to enjoy, and parents can incorporate these games during family time. Once kids get the hang of the games, they can play with siblings, friends, or even by themselves in some cases.

Here are some card game suggestions that incorporate math skills for almost all elementary learners to enjoy:

  1. Memory: Playing “Memory” with young children using a deck of cards helps them identify numbers as concrete representations. By matching number pairs, children practice number recognition and visual memory. This game can be single or multi-player and can be varied depending on players’ ages.
  2. War: Using a deck of cards to play “War” with elementary school children helps them retain number values, understand the concept of greater-than and less-than, and even presents an introduction to mathematical probability.
  3. Crazy Eights: “Crazy Eights” is a multi-player card game that encourages addition skills and mathematical critical thinking through strategy. Players try to eliminate their hand of cards by matching either the number or suit of the card on the table. The losing group of players must tally their remaining cards to give points to the winner of each round.

Card Activities

A deck of cards can inspire many activities for elementary school kids, not the least of which is card tricks. Many “magic” card tricks are based more on math principles than sleight-of-hand, which makes them fun and simple to perform if math skills are sharp.

One magic card trick that is easy to master and requires operational math skills is creating “tens.” With face cards and tens removed from the deck, an “audience” member chooses one card from those remaining. The “magician” then lays down the remainder of the cards and pairs them up to create values of ten: ace and nine, two and eight, etc. The one card remaining for the magician is the pair to the audience card to create ten. Therefore, the magician can subtract the value of the remaining card from 10 and “guess” the value of the audience card.

Many operational math skills can be practiced with a deck of cards. Parents can safely check the internet for tutorials and share them with their kids.

Card Sharks

A deck of cards is an easy, portable, fun, and almost unlimited way to encourage math retention and development in elementary school students during the summer. Whether playing card games or demonstrating magic tricks, a card deck fosters non-screen entertainment with family and friends. A deck of cards encourages creativity in kids as well as critical thinking, operational strategy, and math readiness for the new school year.

Summer Clean-Out | Creating Memories that May Last Longer than Most Possessions

Pile Ups

Summertime can be a difficult balance for families between relaxation and activities. Most kids are resistant to doing work in favor of having fun, but boredom can quickly set in. And most parents want their kids to be somewhat productive in the summer, yet still enjoy the freedom of a long break.

One way to avoid these conflict pileups is to actually make some piles. Summer is an excellent time for family members to clean out some possessions that have lost their use or value and pile them up for re-purpose or donations. This is an opportunity to encourage a sense of community, volunteerism, and environmental awareness for everyone involved.

Getting Started

Beginning any project can be difficult, so it’s important to set goals and a timeline. Parents and kids can research community organizations, and which donated items they are seeking. For example, some police departments accept donations of gently used stuffed animals to give to children in high-stress situations. Other rescue groups may encourage donations of household goods or clothing.

Families can choose one or more “categories” of belongings to donate as a means and goal of community support, gather items to give, and then set a donation day to deliver and celebrate. This can be the start of a summer tradition of contribution and awareness of how much “stuff” people acquire that isn’t highly valued or used.

Tough Going

Getting rid of possessions may be challenging for people of all ages. Little ones may not understand the idea of donating to those less fortunate. Adolescents may be reluctant to give away their things, especially if they feel attached to them. Even adults can be overwhelmed with sentimentality or the idea that they “might need it later.”

This type of summer clean-out is a learning process for everyone. It’s important to start small and keep in mind the ripple effect of contribution. One way to make the tough decision of what to donate easier is to assign a “value” system. For each category of items, family members can assign a numerical value that reflects importance, necessity, or sentimentality. If the number value of an item is high, then it stays. If the number value of an item is low, then it goes.

For example, if a family wishes to clear out some board games for donation, they can take each game and value it with a number. If a game is played often and brings back fond memories, the number value would be high, and the game would stay. However, if a game has been outgrown and is rarely played with, the number value would be low, and the game could be passed on to another family rather than just taking up space in the home environment.

Big Reward

Hopefully, most family members will feel internal reward for giving to others and creating more breathing space in the home. However, like the value system for donations, it’s also important to have a tangible reward that everyone can remember and enjoy. This reward could be going out for pizza or ice cream on donation day, or even creating a small scrapbook page to mark the clean-out tradition. Family members could write their thoughts in a shared notebook about the experience of working together, helping the community, and reducing unneeded or unwanted possessions.

Recording and commemorating the summer clean-out will create memories that may last longer than most possessions, and hopefully inspire future community contributions and volunteerism.

Virtual Summer Trip | One Day May Become a Reality

Vacation Planning

One of the best aspects of summer break is the chance to get away from home. Yet not everyone can afford to travel extensively or take big summer vacations. Instead of a disappointment, however, this can be an opportunity for kids to plan a virtual summer trip to anywhere on the globe and share their vision with the family.

Visiting other places is a chance to learn geography and culture. Travel is almost universally appealing, and with internet research almost any city or country can be virtually explored. Encouraging kids of all ages to expand their awareness of other places can inspire future travel goals and a sense of what it takes to go.

Planning a vacation has its own benefits and rewards, apart from taking the actual trip. It’s exciting to make decisions about where to go, how to get there, and what to see. Parents are often the planners when it comes to summer vacations. This is another reason to encourage students to spend part of their summer planning a virtual trip. They can be in charge of all the decisions and reveal everything to their family and friends through a presentation.

Choosing Location

The best way to begin a virtual summer trip is to select the location. Younger children can keep it simple by choosing a city they’ve heard about, or even a popular spot such as Hawaii or the Grand Canyon. Older kids might think of more exotic or remote locations, such as China or Egypt.

To keep these virtual planners from becoming overwhelmed, parents should encourage “limits” in either time or place. For example, if a high school student decides on Europe as a location, parents can narrow the virtual vacation to two weeks in order for the presentation to have focus and realistic material.

In addition to location, kids should incorporate means of travel in their planning and where to stay. This would help them understand geography (if planes, boats, trains, or cars are required) as well as travel economy. Older kids can work with an imaginary travel budget and learn the different (and many) costs of taking a vacation.

Exploring Culture

Every travel destination, no matter how close or far, is a chance to explore different culture. Planning a virtual summer trip is an excellent way for kids to learn about different regions and their people, languages, weather, food, music, landmarks, art, architecture and more.

For younger travelers, parents can help them find fun and educational activities in the location they choose. One example would be animal habitats in the area they would like to visit. For older kids, parents can suggest incorporating local museums, restaurants, and famous sights in their presentation.

Overall, planning a virtual trip is a chance for kids to learn about other places and people as well as what to see and do. This gives them a sense of wonder as part of a global community.

The Virtual Tour

The reward of planning a virtual summer trip and learning about travel, geography, and culture is sharing it with family and/or friends. Young children can draw pictures of their virtual vacation and explain their findings by describing the trip. Older kids can create a multi-media presentation, including maps, charts, pictures, and slides for others to learn and enjoy.

Parents can encourage their virtual vacation planners to incorporate regional music as part of the presentation, or even help make a food dish to represent the regional culture.

The overall result of this summer project is learning and enjoyment. Planning even a virtual vacation takes organizational skills, research, and attention to detail. Presenting the virtual vacation is a way for summer students to showcase their creativity and vision. And perhaps the virtual vacation will one day become a summer trip in reality.

Ways to Combat the “Summer Slide” – Stopping Students from Falling Behind over Summer Break

The “summer slide” is when children fall behind on their reading skills over the summer break.

Studies show that most children enter a new grade on a lower reading level than when they left the previous one when they don’t continue to read over the break. Luckily, there are many tips and tricks for beating the summer slide.

Reading as a Chore – Not so Fast

Children may view reading as a chore, but this doesn’t have to be the case. A common issue for families is a lack of reading material in the home. Libraries offer free summer reading programs and book challenges. All it takes is a quick visit to learn about programming and to apply for a library card. Generally, libraries will have a children’s librarian that can suggest books for your child that will interest them and be on their reading level.

When children choose their own books, they will be more invested in what they are reading. This is shown to increase reading levels more effectively than assigned reading. Children are more likely to read books from start to finish if their interest is piqued. This doesn’t only apply to chapter books. Graphic novels, comic books, magazines, and joke books are all great ways for children to apply their reading skills and reinforce the joy of reading.

Books that Interest Students – Let them Pick

It may also help to introduce books that you think will interest your child to them. They may skip over great options just because they don’t know that they will connect with the material. Introducing characters, settings, and problems in the story can get them interested in a book. Once they are interested, stop right there with a cliffhanger. Think of this as the literary version of a movie trailer.

If you live too far away from a library or don’t have the time to visit one, the Overdrive app is a valuable resource that can be downloaded to most tablets. Overdrive lets you download thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, and videos from your local library. All you need is your library card in order to create an account.

Reading to your child every day is a great way to integrate literacy into the home and share the experience as a family. Most children’s books are written above a child’s reading level and are intended for adults to read the books to them. But, don’t simply read to them. Ask your child questions about the characters and help them make connections with their own experiences and the world around them.

Look Around – Words are Everywhere

Literacy is everywhere. It’s not just in books. When cooking, let your child help read recipes and introduce them to new vocabulary words. Allow them to help you make a grocery list and read labels while in the store. Show them that reading is an important part of everyday life, and they will develop more of a joy for reading.

Digital Reading and Educational Gaming – A Summer ‘Cool Down’

In the digital age, gaming is everywhere now and I know the last thing most parents want is their child playing video games over the summer all day. But who would have thought that gaming could actually prevent the reading summer slide? There are websites out there that allow students to review reading while play games and actually learn something at the same time. Sites such as Kahoot, Review Game Zone and ABCmouse provide educational gaming to students. These site should not be used all day, but rather as a way to provide a nice break when students need to ‘cool down’ from being outdoors in the summer.

Do Not Let the Summer Slide Slow Down Your Child

The summer slide can start your child off on the wrong foot at the start of the school year. These tips will help ensure their academic success in the new year and help them become more confident in reading overall.

Blogging the Summer Days Away to Keep the Kids Busy

Summer is in full swing– kids are enjoying their newfound freedom while parents have started counting down the days until fall. Typically, children spend the first week of summer excitedly rushing from camp to the beach to sleepovers. After the honeymoon phase, however, they will inevitably slump on the couch and proclaim: I’m bored!

Instead of turning to Fortnight or another mindless movie, there are so many good reasons why kids should spend their free time blogging. A blog, for those who are unfamiliar, functions as a public or private online journal operated by a small group or individual. Most blogs have a niche or specialty, like gardening or cooking. They are usually conversational, but can be more formal depending on the purpose.

Blogging serves several purposes for young people and it is the perfect task to keep their minds buzzing in the leisure of summertime. Teachers can assign blogs as a creative summer task or parents can encourage them. Here are some reasons to encourage the young ones in your life to keep a summer blog:

Blogging encourages a passion or hobby

Since most blogs have a theme, the young people creating them will have the challenge of choosing a specific interest. Maybe she couldn’t get enough of that robotics club she joined last year. Or he loves painting and design. Whatever the topic, blogs encourage children to dive deeper into a particular passion and learn more about it.

It develops Language Arts skills

Regular reading and writing during summer ensures that students are practicing or enhancing what they learned the previous year. Since blogs focus on the individual’s interests, it will not seem like a chore and they will love writing about their chosen topic. Keep them challenged and growing in the summer.  

Blogs build self-esteem

Young people do not have the opportunity to be experts very often. Blogs allow them to take the wheel and share what they know about a topic, no matter how small. Explaining or teaching a concept to others reaffirms their understanding and also fosters pride and accomplishment. Encourage them to share their posts and expand on them.

It can turn into a lifelong venture

Often, exploring a passion at a young age ignites a career choice down the road. Getting a jumpstart on an interest could prove very beneficial. Even if blogging does not turn into a career venture, it is something children will have to look back on for years. Since all work is digital, it’s less likely to get lost in the chaos of everyday life.

If you are on board, here are some popular (and free) blog sites to explore:

If you do allow your child or student’s blog to be public, be sure to have a serious conversation about their digital footprint. Once the child hits the submit button, the information is always out there in some way or another. Explain boundaries like withholding all personal information. Stay involved so you know and see what they are writing.

If you are a parent who does not have access to technology at home, don’t worry. Students can still write down and sketch their ideas on paper. They could make a mini-magazine or take the pages to the computer lab once school starts up again. The important part is that they are exercising creativity, language skills, and getting some positive reinforcement along the way.

Happy blogging!

The “S” Word Over the Summer…How to Never Stop educating the kids!

The longing of each elementary school-age child in the summer, is to pretend like school does not exist.  They will not discuss homework, or teachers, or any of the evaluations of their success by adults at school, such as a B- in reading. School is the unmentionable thing.  Try “pool” instead and you’ll have better luck starting a conversation.

Teach the Kids Undercover

I’ve got a secret plan: Let’s teach our kids over the summer without them knowing it.

We’ve got a lot of hurdles.  I’d argue that present day technology makes it harder, not easier, to pass on genuine knowledge to the younger generation.  Facts are deceptively accessible, but are they the knowledge we really need?  Still, let’s do it.  Let’s educate our children through experiences, like nature parks and local art showings.  Let’s ask them to discuss it all. Why is it even there? What is the goal of those people who preserve national parks?  Why do people play good music outside for the mere pleasure of having an audience listen? 

Learn Through Doing

Let’s educate teenagers through real summer jobs, but not in the manner of pushing them into the workplace with a mentality of fake it till you make it.  Let’s educate our teenagers through exposing them to great, decent people doing great, decent work, and best of all, doing it with grace and a wink.  If you’ve ever received excellent customer service, you’ll know what I mean by grace, and if you’ve ever been that person, I take my hat off to you.  Search for the place where your teenager can learn from the best, even if they’re learning to make coffee.

Summer Programs

And then there are workshops offered in summer that focus on developing specific talents.  Summer programs that focus on chess or theater or woodwork are different in intent and pace from school. There’s a reason they aren’t usually called “classes”. They are project-based in nature.  I made something, your child thinks at the end, and it’s different from anything anyone else has made. Or maybe he doesn’t think much of anything except: That was tolerably fun!  I think I’ll go play a video game now.  But he has been a creator, has made a little bit of uniqueness and given you a glimpse into how he views the world.  You might be educated by that knowledge in your own turn.

So avoid “s” word, but never stop educating the kids.  Our time with them is too precious.