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5 Ways to Spot a Great Educator

First off, what defines an educator?

An educator doesn’t necessarily mean a school teacher, although it can. In fact, many of the people who educate us have nothing to do with what goes on in a classroom. Parents, grandparents, older siblings, religious leaders, peers, business people, and coaches, just to name a few, are primary educators in the lives of students. Learning isn’t something that comes from a book, but rather something that comes from the vibrant experiences that we have in life. At Thrively we know that educators are instrumental in shaping a student’s success and building his/her character, so here are 5 ways to spot a great educator!

Taking decisions for the future

1. Have active intellectual lives outside the classroom

A great educator believes in continuing to learn themselves, even as adults. And while these people don’t necessarily have high SAT scores or perfect GPAs in college, they do continue to improve their own learning. Powerful educators are passionate about intellectuals pursuits – rather that be art, poetry, science, math, whatever their interests are.

2. Are fun!

Education isn’t meant to be dry – not a good education anyway. Children, and adults for that matter, connect best with learning that’s exciting and enriching– which is guaranteed when using Thrively!

3. Appreciate your child’s differences

Your child is a unique individual. Great educators don’t see success as one thing, they don’t believe in the cookie-cutter mold of happiness or accomplishment. These individuals encourage children to explore their interests, whatever those may be.

4. Create opportunities for learning

Learning doesn’t always take place at a desk, though it certainly can. Educators who are positive forces in the life of your child find ways to incorporate learning into everyday life. Whether that’s in the grocery store, at a baseball game, or walking through the neighborhood – learning can happen everywhere, because life isn’t limited.

5. Believe intelligence is achievable

This one is truly important. Good educators believe that intelligence is not genetic. They believe that children can learn to be intelligent through exposure to academic content and critical thinking skills. And they believe that your child is capable of making leaps in intelligence through positive support.

Look around for the great educators in the life of your child. Seek out those individuals who possess these qualities, and encourage them to share their skills with your child!

5 ways to make sure your child LOVES their first overnight camp experience

lTo some kids, overnight camp is a breeze. They can’t wait to get away, meet new friends and run wild for a week. Other kids, not so much. So how can you make sure that your child’s first camp experience is as successful as it can be?

1.  Make sure they’re ready to go.  

How do you know when your child is ready for overnight camp?  We had a few great tips from moms during last month’s summer camp twitter party:

l2.  Go with friends.

It’s great for kids to go on their own because it’s important to learn how to build social relationships and learn how to make friends.  However, with a first-time or nervous camper, having a friend there can make all the difference.

l3.  Know when to nudge and when to shrug.

 It’s a fine line between introducing something new and pushing them into something that they just don’t want to do. Pursuing new things should be about exploration and discovery.

4.  Test the waters

Tons of overnight camps out there offer trial camps where your little one can attend for 2 or 3 nights.  It’s a great way to test the waters without committing your schedule (and budget!) to a full-length session.

You can search Thrively to find lots of Junior Camps right in your neck of the woods!

5.  When in doubt, just wait.

Your children’s first camp experience will set the tone for many summers to come.  If your gut tells you they’re just not ready, then hold off.  Attend one-day workshops and get a feel for how they do without you for a whole day.  Ease into overnights later.

And above all, HAVE FUN!

How I became a nerd?

Stewart’s story begins with a passion for math and for building and creating stuff, specifically in a way that didn’t punish his left-handedness! It then moves into the creation of video game giant EA from the very beginning, before there was even a video game industry.  As he says, a true “Revenge of the Nerds” tale…   –Jon Kraft

I knew I was different than most kids at an early age and it was not just because I was left-handed.  Right-handed people don’t realize how right-handed the world is.  Try writing in a 3-ring binder or spiral-bound notebook with those big rings in the way. Or worse, try writing or drawing when your hand follows and smears everything you try to create.

It’s not just because I could not write neatly or draw accurately that my form of creating was to build. I fell in love with tinker toys, Lincoln Logs, and American Bricks. If I was your age today it would be Legos.

What I loved about that form of play was that you could imagine, build, change, and build more and there were never any eraser marks, torn paper, or smudges. You can build without fear of showing your mistakes. You can always make it better and I loved trying to make something perfect.

When I reached the summer before my 4th grade, my parents moved us to a new neighborhood.  If you have ever had to move to a new school you know how scary that can be.  My parents knew this as well and enrolled me in summer school.  At first, I thought this was going to be a boring way to spend the summer when all I wanted to do was play first base on a new little league team.  I did get to select the classes myself and one that sounded interesting was “Fun with Math.”

I’m sure you are wondering how math could be fun.  Well, it was not a summer spent filling out worksheets; I spent the summer working on puzzles, discovering interesting things about numbers and with every new thing I learned I found there was even more to learn. I solved puzzles where I had to move matchsticks, fill in number squares, or solve fun word problems. This was the beginning of my love of math.

By the time I made it to high school my excitement about math was in high gear. I took advanced math classes where most of the kids were older than me. I joined the Math Team (seriously) and we competed against other high schools by solving more problems faster. I even competed in a national competition put on by the MAA (the Mathematical Association of America). This test consists of very challenging problems in Algebra, Geometry and even Calculus. A perfect score is 150 points but anything above 25 was impressive. As a sophomore, I got the highest score in my school. I was now officially and nationally recognized as a nerd. We didn’t get letterman jackets so nobody outside of our club knew much about us though. We nerds only got one club picture in the yearbook.

My personal “Revenge of the Nerds” story took many more years but it happened.  I went to college and fell in love with computers.  It was just like Legos except you typed what you wanted to build. I loved it so much that I went to work at IBM right out of college.  Today I would probably work at Google or Microsoft.  It was a serious job but I always stayed late and found some nerds who knew that computers could be fun to play with and not just for serious stuff.  We made games to fly planes or play pinball or create our own Startrek episode where we got to be the captain of the Starship Enterprise. In those days a computer was the size of a VW.

I kept playing with computers until IBM and Apple invented personal computers. This was the point that everything I had done before finally became clear. PC’s would allow a whole new form of fun to be created. My goal in life became creating games that everyone would like not just nerds. I wanted them to be as interesting and exciting as the best movies, tv, and books but have that added dimension of interactivity. All media before the computer you just sit there but with computers, you interact.

Just like I discovered in school that I was not the only person like me, I was fortunate to have met people at the time that shared my view of how important games on a PC could be. We started a company that would push the boundaries of entertainment and art on a computer. We also wanted to recognize that these games were created by talented, driven individuals who were a new type of artist creating a new form of art. After much debate, we decided to call the company Electronic Arts. It became the publisher of popular games like Madden Football, FIFA Soccer, The Sims and many, many other games and today employs almost 10,000 people worldwide. When we began in 1982, the video game business did not exist.  Today it is a $50B industry worldwide.

Today, every day is new and interesting just like it was as a child. I was fortunate to have found something that excited me and I never lost faith in the belief that this excitement would be interesting to others. There were many ups and downs, victories and defeats along the way but being true to my passions kept me on the path to success and happiness. And it turns out I was not as different as I thought.l

Stewart-BonnSteward Bonn joined Electronic Arts in 1983 as the 18th employee. During his 12 years, he produced many of Electronic Arts’ most successful titles including software for music, paint, flight simulation and children’s education. As SVP/GM of EA Studios, he led the world’s largest interactive studio. Since then he has been a Co-Founder or an Advisor to numerous social media and game companies. Stewart earned a BS in EECS from UC Berkeley and received the 1993 Stanford Business School Entrepreneurial Company of the Year award as one of 5 EA executives.