Four tools for 3D printing your child’s work of art

3D printing is no longer the stuff of science fiction – it’s a reality that’s becoming accessible to everyone. Our children are growing up in a world in which they are not limited by the bounds of technology when it comes to their imagination. In the 21st century, the possibilities are limitless.

The hard part is figuring out how to even access this kind of technology. It might not be long before 3D printers are as common as inkjets, but that day isn’t here quite yet.

Luckily there are some wonderful programs out there that allow people on the outside to access 3D printing, and to let their imaginations go wild with this tech. Read on to learn about four marvelous programs that will allow you to get your child’s artwork off the fridge and onto the coffee table :)

3D Printing tools for your children’s art:

Kids Creation Station

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Kids Creation Station makes it easy for you to turn your child’s work of art into a sculpture. All you have to do is upload a picture! All figurines are 4 inches long and cost $100, but they have a big discount if you add a second print. The website is super user-friendly. Just sign up, upload your photo, and checkout. What we love about it is that you can also see galleries of other families’ prints, so you can get ideas and save favorites.

Crayon Creatures

Image Credit: Crayon Creatures

This site offers your child’s painting to be transformed into a 3D printed sculpture for $130 for figures up to 4 inches long. The company is based in Europe and has a wonderfully whimsical philosophy and a genuine passion for their business. They create a hollow form of your child’s image, which translates into a beautiful figure that’s got depth and life. Finished pieces are raw and full of the wonder of a child’s imagination. The sculptures are truly amazing, particularly of the more abstract art pieces.


Image Credit: Doolydoo

Doolydoo offers you the option to take your child’s drawings and have them transformed into three-dimensional pieces of sculpture. For around a hundred dollars, your child’s drawing can be transformed into a sculpture of around ten centimeters tall, or for twice that you can get one that’s fifteen centimeters tall. The site boasts some fantastic examples of their work that will inspire you and your child. You also have the option of having your child’s art printed onto a plaque. The artwork is even viable if it’s from a small child, and the sculptures are beautiful.

Doolydoo has a coloring book option as well, in which you choose from a selection of coloring book pages that your child the colors just like a coloring book. These pages are then transformed into 3D sculptures for a discounted rate.


3D Printing

For the more tech-minded kid who just wants to learn about 3D printing and programming, the Tinkercad course from Autodesk does the basics – it teaches kids how to create a 3D model that is actually viable for printing on a 3D printer. With this course, your child will learn the skills that they need to create designs and forms that world with this technology. A different track from the other two options, but one that is nonetheless viable and amazing in its own right. Once your child completes the course and learns how to create a blueprint for their 3D art, you will, of course, need to gain access to a 3D printer. Many community colleges and high schools now have these machines on hand, so if you’d like to start a new family project by printing your child’s masterpiece, then you have lots of options!

New York families, Lion's Heart is coming your way

Teen volunteering – accidental inspiration

It’s early July and soon camp season will soon peak. By early August you may even witness a little camp fatigue, particularly among seasoned camp-goers. Developmentally, tweens and teens are ready to guide their own growth opportunities. They are restless, inspired, and have too much time on their hands. In other words they are the perfect volunteers. If your screen-sucking, channel-surfing adolescent doesn’t strike you as the next UNICEF ambassador, do not despair. Change-makers often discover themselves by accident at the cross-section of availability and opportunity.

One of our activity partners, Lion’s Heart, provides the volunteer and leadership training. Thrively has thousands of local volunteer opportunities. The inspiration takes care of itself, as many Lion’s Heart Members have discovered.

Here’s what some of our teens think of Lion’s Heart:

“Lion’s Heart differentiates itself because it is not an organization where your parents hold your hand. YOU as the teenager have the power. At the end of my freshman year of college, I helped co-found an organization called FrogSpeak, which is aimed to provide a network of support for students at TCU dealing with mental illness.”

-Darby C., Graduated Lion’s Heart Member and student at TCU

“After graduating from high school, I soon became extremely involved in volunteering at a medical clinic and helping the truly underserved people, something that was engrained in me after years of community service with Lion’s Heart. Volunteering in this clinic helped reveal my passion for medicine, which finally focused my studies onto pursuing a career as a Physician Assistant. I soon became president of the pre-physician assistant club at SDSU which opened multiple new doors for volunteering and becoming a leader in my community which allowed me to provide others with the same volunteering experiences that I had, all stemming from Lion’s Heart. These experiences gave me the opportunity to attend the Master’s of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Southern California and allows me to continue to make huge differences in the underserved community, all while practicing my passion.”

-Brandon P., Graduated Lion’s Heart Member and USC graduate student

“Coming to UCSB the first thing I wanted to do was get involved. My freshmen year I joined Alpha Phi Sorority and was elected community service chair shortly after. I could not have taken a role like that my freshmen year of college without the skills I obtained in Lion’s Heart. In my few short years in Lion’s Heart, I learned valuable lessons such as knowing how to motivate others to become passionate about a cause, reaching out to community members, and planning events people want to attend. Those skills directly benefited me! I co-founded a cheerleading team for children with disabilities, and I also continued my involvement in Best Buddies organization, which I now am finishing up my 8th year. Lion’s Heart was more than just a community service organization for students. It was a place where I learned to be a leader of my peers, where I learned what I was passionate about, and where I found the confidence and skills to go out in the world and help people.”

-Noelle B., Graduated Lion’s Heart Member and student UC Santa Barbara

“I have found that Lion’s Heart has opened the door to incredible opportunities, that I may have not otherwise been prepared for or comfortable with. For example, this summer I will be in Kenya doing research with bean farmers to increase crop yields. My volunteer experience was definitely a factor in my selection and my willingness to engage in this project.”

-Carly E., Graduated Lion’s Heart Member and student at Cornell University

School's Out

School’s out – reflections on the lessons learned

Thinking back, what did you learn?

As the school year finishes up, we’re tempted to just hit the door and run as fast as we can. Teachers do this, kids do it, and parents do it as well. Now that every year ends with relentless test preparation followed by hours upon hours of filling in bubble sheets, the end of the school year is much more about muscling through something difficult than it is about summing up and reflecting upon learning.

But learning isn’t about tests.

  • I hope you learned to be curious.
  • I hope you learned to stand up for yourself, but also for others.
  • I hope you learned to say yes to opportunity, and no to things that hurt you.
  • I hope you learned that you can do it.
  • I hope you learned that the world is wide, and wild, and wonderful.
  • I hope you learned to love learning.
  • Above all, this school year I hope you learned to be kind.

Reflecting on Learning

You can help your kids to discover what they’ve learned this school year simply through journaling. This is something that you can participate in as well – this is a perfect time for you to reflect on the year too. By participating with your child in the activity, it becomes a shared experience rather than a task for them to complete.


This activity doesn’t have to be complex. All you need is some paper and something to write with. You might iike to get a journal where you can continue to have your child and you write reflections on learning and life, or you can just do it on loose leaf if that’s what you’ve got. Form doesn’t matter – content does.

Once you’ve each written your reflections, share them with each other and get the conversation started about what learning is and how it affects your lives. This activity instills not only a love of learning, but also a deep sense of self and the importance of recognizing personal growth. And these prompts can be easily amended at the end of summer to take some time to reflect before the coming school year.

Here are some prompts to get you started.

For Kids:

  • What’s a moment that surprised you this year?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • What has changed about you this year?
  • What could you have done better?
  • What’s a subject that you want to learn more about?
  • What’s a subject that you don’t want to learn more about?
  • What’s a moment when a lesson “clicked” in your head?
  • What’s the most important thing that you learned outside of the classroom?

For Parents:

  • What’s a moment that surprised you this year?
  • What of your child’s accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What do you see that has changed about your child this year?
  • What could you have done better?
  • What’s a moment when a lesson “clicked” in your head?
  • What’s subject should your child investigate more deeply?
  • What’s something that you saw “click” with your child?
  • What’s the most important area that you child grew in outside of the classroom?
video game 1

Don’t just play video games… Make them

video game 1

Video games. They’re controversial, and they’re also something that kids love.

Psychologist Dr. Isabela Granic has long studied video game use in children and adolescents, and has come to the conclusion that interacting in a video game world can have real world benefits (Bowen 2014). According to Granic, both complex strategic games (Legend of Zelda) as well as simpler problem solving games (Angry Birds) can improve cognitive function. There are also emotional benefits to playing video games says Granic, like improved mood, resilience skills, and increased relaxation.

Kids can take video games to the next level by learning how video games work and designing their own, turning this addictive pass-time into a 21st century skill. Here are five super awesome video game courses we have listed in Thrively that will help your child to get excited about engineering their own digital world.

1. Game Design 1 / Youth Digital

Youth Digital offers kids a unique experience in video game design. With programs for kids as young as age 8, Youth Digital offers well supported, easy to use video game design courses for kids. The Game Design 1 course teaches kids to design their own video game completely – from start to finish. Kids can then burn their work onto a CD to share with their friends.

2. Getting Started with Minecraft/Tech Rocket

Tech Rocket’s courses are extremely thorough and easy for kids to access. Kids can work through prerequisites in Java in order to prepare them for the world of Minecraft, then learn how to customize their virtual world with ease and fun. This is a key elements course, perfect for kids who are new to Minecraft but ready to jump in.

3. Hour of Code

Hour of Code is one of the biggest and most comprehensive kids coding sites out there. You’ll find just too many cool games for your kids to build and program, with all kinds of amazing characters from Frozen to Angry Birds. Let your child explore their interests here.

4. Tynker

This site lets your child program everything from apps to drones. Kids love this site and find that they’re able to do things that they never though possible in the world video games. It’s interactive approach is also perfect for kids who aren’t sure of themselves when it comes to coding.

5. Codeacademy

Codecademy can help you learn to code for free! They’ve got over 24 million users teaching and learning how to code any type of computer language, from HTML to Python. Their mission is to get more computer science knowledge into the hands of young people. And of course, being free doesn’t hurt either :P


Bowen, Lisa. (February 2014). Video game play may provide learning, health, social benefits, review finds. Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association. Retrieved from



Autumn Robinson is a writer, teacher, martial artist and mom who’s pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology. Autumn loves her life in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina with her three young boys and loving husband. She is also an advocate for children, who believes that all kids deserve to live out their passion. 





4 Not-boring ways to prevent summer slide


The first few weeks of June bring the last few weeks of school and the tantalizing lazy days of childhood spent in expectation-less freedom. While teachers and students are very much ready to let go of the rigors of the school year, especially after testing, parents are already thinking about how to keep their children from losing all of that hard earned growth during the summer. Research has shown us that the summer slide is a real problem (U.S. Department of Education) but that it doesn’t have to be, and that kids don’t have to spend the summer hitting the books to prevent it.

One of the great things about summer is the freedom to learn through experience, rather than just through academic engagement. In that light, here are 4 beautiful ways to have your kids PLAY their way through the summer, while still engaging those big brains and preventing the summer slide.

  1. Financial Engagement – what’s the biggest reason your kids will need to know math in the real world? Money. Your kids can learn to manage finances and keep honing those mathematics skills through incredible apps like Saving Spree.
  2. Get Out – Speaking of STEM, how to you get your kids to keep engaging in science without a lab? The answer is to get them outside into the BIG science lab! A bird, bug, or plant identification book from the library is a perfect way to help kids explore their own environment. Thrively’s Sparks page can help you find all kinds of fun ways to get outdoors and to keep exploring science.
  3. Geometry of Fabric – You might not think about all of the math that goes into sewing, but when you pause for a moment you realize that it’s all figures. Sewing involves measurement, shapes, proportions, scale, and arithmetic. Try DIY camps to find an at-home fashion “camp” that your kids can enjoy for just $10.
  4. Turn the Page – the most essential way for your child to keep the summer sun from draining all of that knowledge is to keep reading. It genuinely doesn’t matter what their reading, not even in the slightest, just that they’re engaging with text. Summer is the time for kids to learn that reading can fuel their interests, no matter what they are. From martial arts to video games to fashion. There are some fantastic apps out there like Knowonder that offer engaging content that kids can read for fun all summer long.

Summer is a time for freedom, but it’s the perfect time to reinforce lifelong learning. Life doesn’t happen in a classroom, but education does happen everywhere – even under the warm summer sun.


Pack it in this summer – opportunities for students

Summer is a time of endless possibilities! But, it’s easy to squander this time away and before you know it, “back to school” is everywhere. Take time to play and relax this summer, but also take advantage of this uninterrupted time to do or learn something new.
We’ve found that you can easily design a summer that is full of valuable experiences, but is also FUN.
Our friends at GoEnnounce have some ideas for you to make the most of this summer. And even if you don’t get that coveted internship or part-time job, there are still tons of little things you can do to help your community, your resume, and have fun in the process.

Read GoEnnounce’s full list of summer ideas by clicking here.


What is GoEnnounce?
l gives students a voice about their education and empowers access to increased opportunities. It’s a free platform for students to share their educational stories or fundraise with the network who can help them reach their goals.
On GoEnnounce students e-nnounce & track achievements and projects to get the encouragement and financial help they need to succeed. All students’ school and extracurricular updates are saved in a social e-portfolio environment. Learn about a $500 monthly scholarship for students they offer here.

Splurge or Save? Get the Most out of Summer

How can you get the most out of your summer, and get the most value for your money? Summer camps are a classic way to entertain and enrich children during the summer, but there are so many options out there that it can be a little overwhelming. Add to that the question of whether a camp is actually worth the price tag, and it can make you ready for school to start again.

If you haven’t booked camps for your kids yet, there could still be time!

Here’s our guide to making the decision about whether to splurge or save on camp this summer.


Classic Day Camp


Splurge: Steve & Kate’s

steve and kate

If you’re looking for a cutting edge, innovative approach to day camp, then you’ll find it with Steve & Kate’s. This is a flexible day camp option, in which you can purchase a chunk of available days and then schedule them however you’d like. The activities are guided by your child’s interest. with a particular eye towards offering kids the chance to try things that they haven’t experienced before. The concept goes even further with self directed learning where children are encouraged to make mistakes and to learn from them. Steve & Kate’s has been around for 35 years and has seen a lot of expansion, and parents and kids love it.

Price: $69-89 per day, or $2415 for the whole summer

Click HERE for more info and to find a location in your area.


Save: YMCA


Is there anything more American than a YMCA Summer Day Camp? Maybe apple pie. What’s great about the YMCA is that local programs are tailored to local interests and needs, not to mention that your kids will likely be around other children that they know and in a place that you can feel confident in. YMCA Day Camps are pre-programmed and very structured. Some weeks are based around a theme like the exploration or soccer. You want to register early for these camps, as they fill up fast.

Price: around $200 per week (varies by location)

Click HERE to find a location near you.


Outdoor Adventure Camp


Splurge: Outward Bound

outward bound

There’s a reason that Outward Bound is the top name in adventure – its expeditions are well planned and staffed with highly trained counselors, offering unique experiences in outdoor adventure. Some Outward Bound courses actually count for college credit for older kids and there are programs that lead all the way into adulthood. With expeditions in everything from sea kayaking to mountain climbing, Outward Bound is truly something special.

Price: $1500 and up for one week expeditions, plus travel costs

Click HERE to view a sample camp and find a location near you.


Save: Local Wilderness Camp

Outdoor camp

The local wilderness camp is a cliche for a reason – it offers the opportunity to create memorable experiences and lifelong friendships. Wilderness camps come a wide variety of flavors to suit your child’s interests, and kids can learn skills from archery to crafts. Another bonus is that these camps can be found within driving distance of most everywhere and that the cost is wonderfully reasonable. To find a great camp, do a little research and look for something that truly matches your child’s interest or sparks their excitement. There are some fantastic wilderness camps where kids can sleep in converted train cars or spend a week mostly soaked in a lake.

Price: $400-$600 per week, depending on location

Check out THIS example and search for others near you!


Computer Coding


Splurge: Youth Digital

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 11.29.47 AM

Youth Digital is a leader in teaching kids about the back end of the technology that we all take for granted. There are course in a wide variety of subtopics offered here, from app coding to making movies. The courses are open for a year, so there’s no timetable or real structure. Reviewers consistently say that Youth Digital offers the most detail oriented and comprehensive training online for kids. The instructors are funny, informative and on-call to answer questions as your child moves through the modules.

Price: $179 per course

Click HERE for more info.


Save: Free Online Coding


Backed by an impressive list of public figures like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama, is an initiative that’s mission is to help kids learn to code in an effort to improve STEM participation in youth. The “Hour of Code” tutorial series is well designed, engaging, and easy to navigate. You’ll find that your kids can learn to code with the likes of Anna and Elsa from Frozen, or the Angry Birds themselves. This site is really a one stop shop for kids wanting to learn how to create in the digital world. Did we mention that it’s free?

Price: Free

Learn more here.


Fashion Camp


Splurge: Fashion Design Camp

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Many major fashion schools offer summer day camp programs for kids, and most especially for teens. The key here is that unless you’re local to one of these fabulous programs, you’ll have to find local accommodations and stay with your child. That being said, there are some majorly impressive programs in places like NYC and Chicago. If your child is truly interested in fashion design as a career, this kind of intensive, structured and well connected experience could open a lot of doors. And your child will have a truly once in a lifetime experience.

Price: $600 and up

Click HERE to see an example and find a location near you!


 Save: DIY Camps Fashion Designer


One of the most fun things about fashion is that it lives wherever we are. Design is driven by creativity and that creativity is right there inside your child’s head. DIY Camps offers incredibly guided camp experiences right from your home. The fashion design camp includes activities like staging a photo shoot and hacking your clothing. Camps are four weeks long and offer lots of video and activity guides. Kids then post their creations for the community to see, and there is a rich and well developed community over at DIY, allowing your budding fashionista to find new partners in fashion.

Price: $39, $10 for your first camp!

Click here to check out DIY Camps.


Still looking for last minute camp options? Visit Thrively to find out about options near you.



Autumn Robinson is a writer, teacher, martial artist and mom who’s pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology. Autumn loves her life in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina with her three young boys and loving husband. She is also an advocate for children, who believes that all kids deserve to live out their passion. 



girl with head in hands

Is passion misunderstood?

The point that is missed in The New York Times article entitled, “Our Push for ‘Passion,’ and Why It Harms Kids”.

girl with head in hands

Lisa Heffernan made an important point in last week’s NYT article about passion: overzealous parents often take the concept way too far, and the search for a passion becomes a high pressure quest for the holy grail.  The ultimate cost is missed opportunity (the intense quest to pursue a false passion prevents kids from organically discovering a true passion) and an unfair sense of failure for kids who are naturally well rounded and not inspired to focus on one or two things.

While the problems raised in this article are real, the blame is unfairly placed.  The true blame, instead of on an important movement for kids like “finding passion,” should be placed on unreasonable parental pressure and the blind pursuit of false interests.

Yes, like the author, our garage is filled with relics from activities gone by.  And yes, we do use the notion of finding our kids’ passion to help us guide our decisions.  One of the questions we wrestle with every day is “how much is too much?”  When is a kid “over-scheduled” and when is he or she just into a lot of cool stuff?  I talk to other parents about this constantly, and I find myself feeling protective of our family’s approach.  It sometimes reminds me of the old George Carlin routine.  Whenever you’re driving on the freeway, whoever is driving in front of you and slowing you down is an “idiot”, and whoever is zipping past you is a “maniac”. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure:



Personally, as with almost everything, I am quick rationalize with my kids, to the point where I often don’t know where reality ends and rationalization begins.  My son loves all his activities, so I’m sure it’s fine that he races from club baseball practice to a rec basketball game to a jiu jitsu tournament all on the same day.  Sure, his face is red and his eyes are glazed over, and he eats 5 double-cheeseburgers without coming up for a breath…  but hey – he’s a red-blooded American boy, so it’s all good.  It’s helping him with time management skills… and… helping with stress management and prioritization.  He’s also learned to have focus on the tasks at hand, and also teaches him to do his homework efficiently. Right? My daughter has a similar busy schedule, and must also get her 3 hours of homework done.  She likes to go to bed late anyway, so it’s all part of her normal flow.  Right?

I don’t know the answers, but here are the two questions that govern our decision making when it comes to these issues with our kids:  do they love it, and can they handle it?  We check in regularly to ask them these questions. If the answers are “yes”, we’re inclined to let it ride.  After all, how many things in life do you get to love?  I also know what my kids are capable of doing in school, and we won’t compromise on that front, so as long as they are meeting their own and my wife’s and my expectations in school, again, we let it ride.  We regularly check with our doctors about sleep – are they getting enough?  How do we know?  The doctors don’t have precise answers, just a handful of vague questions.  Do they seem happy?  Vital?  Eager?  Generally, yes.  So we let it ride.

Do our kids know at some level that it would be great to have a passion?  Probably.  Our older one actively feels that pressure – she wonders if there is a sport out there that she would love even more than volleyball.  She wonders if she should spend more time on her drawing and painting.  She gets the way the world looks at these things.  But it’s our job as parents to give her perspective, to let her know that it’s OK to wonder those things, but sometimes we can’t know all the answers, and that we just have to use our best judgment as we go.

The search for passion may lead to a single dominant interest area, it may lead to the kind of multi-activity conflict our daughter struggles with, or it may be a continuous exploration with no resolution.  These are all OK.  What defines any of these outcomes as failures is how we, as parents, respond to them.

In other words, it’s not the search for a “passion” that causes a sense of failure.  It may cause some level of stress, but learning to manage stress and be OK with things not always falling neatly into place is OK.  The search for passion can be an amazing journey, if you let it. As parents, our job is to facilitate this search, but keep it all in perspective.  Perspective is at the heart of everything.  Life is stressful, setting goals is stressful, and we’re not going to be successful at *everything* we do. Learning that early is OK and in fact, it’s crucial. But it better be learned in a supportive environment with plenty of perspective.  If it is, it may be the most valuable lesson we can teach our kids.

This post was written by Jon Kraft, Thrively’s CEO and co-founder. Don’t know him? Click here and then you will!

Whether you believe in the “find your passion” narrative or not, Thrively was designed to help parents and kids find fun activities to do in their free time. Try Thrively for free and your kids can take our fun, self-esteem boosting Strength Assessment, or find a camp/class/club near you that would, dare we say, help pursue a passion :)


Working Memory – Why It’s More Important than IQ

We tend to think that the key to doing well in school is being smart, but that’s not really true. Academic success is about more than just being brainy. In fact, studies show us that students who have a more developed working memory are actually better performers in school than those children who have a higher raw IQ score.


Think of working memory as the brain’s notepad – it’s that space in our minds where we keep everything while we’re using it. People with good working memory are able to multitask and, therefore, connect lots of different of information.

Visual-spatial and Auditory Working Memory

Working memory is divided into two subsections: Visual-spatial and auditory. Visual-spatial is of course the still images, written language and video that we see in our minds while working through something, while auditory includes spoken language, music and every other sound that might be involved in the task at hand. People tend to be more proficient in one or the other, but you have to be able to utilize both in order to be successful. You have to process both auditory information along with visual-spatial information at the same time in order to be able to most efficiently understand academic material.

Connect the Dots, La-lala-lala


Why? Because in order to critically think about a subject, you have to be able to connect the dots. So the brain has to process one kind of information almost in the background in order to allow it to connect that information to new input that’s coming in.

Let’s say your kids are working on word problems in math – they have to be able to capture the textual or auditory input and process it while also connecting it to mathematical principles. Working memory is the key to making all of this happen at once. These same kinds of multitasking skills are essential for everything from reading comprehension to decoding words to even those early seemingly simple mathematics principles. Multitasking skills are also at the heart of following directions accurately, in particular multi-step directions like “first write your name at the top, then staple your paper and place it in the red bin.”

Working memory is what lets you both process the numbers next to each dot and look at the wider picture to see the image that’s coming from the connection of each of those dots.

Wondering if memory is your child’s strong suit? Take our Strength Assessment to find out!


Your kids’ success begins with one small thing

It was only one small thing. Yet from that one small thing, stemmed entry into a national competition, interviews with dozens of media outlets, TEDx talks, and lots of other benefits. That one small thing seemed completely irrelevant to me; it was just a mundane activity that my classroom had to do, yet four years later I can personally tell you that small thing changed my life forever.

That one small thing was a classroom spelling bee in the 6th grade. That spelling bee transformed into me competing with the top spellers from around the world at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. This opportunity turned into several interviews with media outlets like CNN, NBC, and even newspapers from around the country. All these interviews snowballed into one TEDx talk. That one TEDx talk turned into another talk, and that TEDx talk transformed into a keynote speech in front of a thousand people. That keynote speech turned into another TEDx talk and the snowball is still rolling. All these things were caused by that one small thing that I had no initial intent on doing.

My point is not to tell you about my accomplishments, but it is to tell you how important that one small thing is. Had I not done that one small thing, the resulting sequence of events would not have happened. I would have gone through my life just going through the motions. But the thing is, everyone has these small things. If you are cognizant and aware of all those small “things,” there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

Millions of parents want to know: how does a kid succeed?

I think it all stems from that one small thing—that spelling bee, that science camp, those acting classes, etc. Finding all those small things can be made easy but finding the right one will be difficult. Luck will not favor those who force a child to do something, but rather those who allow the child to do what he/she wants.

Finding the small opportunities is becoming easier and easier, but finding the right thing can still be difficult. I was fortunate enough to strike the gold with my small opportunity, but the question that is now being asked is: how does one find the “right” small thing?

Here are the three best things to do to find the right small thing:

  1. Learn more about your child’s strengths and weaknesses
  1. Find out what your child likes and doesn’t like
  1. ASK YOUR CHILD! It could be as simple as, “What do you want to do this summer?”

The right small thing is out there for every single child, whether it is a spelling bee or something else. The world has so much to offer, and the small things are there. The only thing is that action needs to be taken. The first step is the most important, so let’s all find “our small opportunity”.




Shreyas Parab (@sparab18) is a 9th grader at Archmere Academy. He is a two-time Scripps National Spelling Bee competitor and has been the main focus on a CNN story on the spelling bee as well as in many news outlets over the country. He was a speaker at TEDx Penn State Berks campus and is the CEO of Novel Ties.