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My usually confident daughter Charisse just entered middle school and is under a lot of different pressures, including from new peers. It’s hard talking with her about it, but I sense her dilemma. She would be mortified if I meet with the counselor for advice. Any thoughts on steps I can take?

When teens — or anyone, really — feels pressure, there’s a sense of being rushed or forced into making choices or decisions before we’ve had a chance to think them through. The transition to middle school often brings students a new set of pressures and stressors to deal with, says educator Annie Fox, author of “Middle School Confidential,” a series of graphic novels and apps for teens (Free Spirit Publishing Inc.).

Not all pressures on teens are bad, says Fox. For example, a teacher might urge a student to take an advanced class because the teacher believes the student could do well. That kind of push gives the student a chance to stretch herself and open doors to more opportunities.

“After thinking about it, she might realize, ‘That’s a good thing. I’ll try it,’” explains Fox.

Or a friend might encourage her to go out and do something fun when she’s feeling down, and this is “also a good thing,” says Fox.

Pressures from new friends who encourage a student to do something that makes her feel uncomfortable or that go against what she believes in or knows is wrong, “can make her feel at war with herself, like she’s being pulled in two directions at once,” says Fox. “This can leave a teen confused and thinking there aren’t any good options.”

The key is to help Charisse develop a set of tools to analyze and deal with stress and pressure in healthy ways. Fox advises teens to master these four strategies:

First, identify the cause: Tell Charisse to be “really clear about what’s bothering her by putting it into words,” says Fox. For example, she could try completing this sentence: “Someone wants … but it doesn’t feel right because … ”

Second, teach Charisse to step away from the situation. Take a break. Play with the cat. Go for a walk with the dog.

“Learning to relax under pressure can help calm the body while opening the mind to possible solutions,” says Fox.

Third, have your daughter weigh her options. “If Charisse feels torn between someone else’s expectations of her and what she wants for herself, have her write down both sides of the tug of war, being fully honest in the process,” advises Fox. “Seeing the pros and cons can help her figure out what’s right for her.”

Fourth, show her how to take a stand. Helping Charisse articulate what she does and doesn’t believe in will help her state it clearly and confidently to others. “It’s important for teens to be clear on their values and where they draw the line,” explains Fox. “It’s not their job to please everybody, rather to make choices (online and off) that increase their own self-respect. When teens’ decisions reflect who they really are, they start to feel more at peace with themselves. They get stronger against negative pressures.”

Fox offers teens and their parents guidance on a range of topics and answers questions on her podcast, FamilyConfidential.com, and her advice blog, AnnieFox.com.

My high school-aged daughter and son have been assigned to watch C-SPAN and political shows about the presidential election. She supports Hillary Clinton. He’s for Donald Trump. They end up screaming at each other. I’ve had to warn my son to stop using disrespectful, offensive language and my daughter to stop throwing things at the TV. This is crazy. Help!

I’ll say this for their teachers: They aren’t backing away from teaching this election as some have said they are. A Texas history teacher (who asked that her name not be used) wrote me to say, “I love teaching the presidential election, but this year I’m scaling back because the administration warned teachers to ’stay objective.’ I work in a diverse school. I would not be able to let the divisive, anti-immigrant rhetoric go unchallenged. Instead of class discussions, I assign online games from iCivics.org because students can work through them thoughtfully and be held accountable for their views.”

For decorum at your dinner table, two teachers who’ve taught three decades of elections offer this advice:

“Since the kids have gone all ‘Lord of the Flies’ on Mom, adopt the ‘pass the conch’ technique from the book,” says Newton, Massachusetts, educator Marj Montgomery. “Choose any object. No one may speak without that object in hand. No one. If they haven’t read ‘Lord of the Flies,’ do so with them. Enjoy the discussions it prompts.”

Illinois educator Kevin Pobst suggests not allowing them “to watch programs together if they cannot conduct themselves with civility, period. Break the rule and the TV goes off. Then they suffer the consequence of not getting the assignment done.”

Discuss what their goal is when they argue. “Do they want to persuade each other, or are they just expressing their preference to insult?” Pobst asks. “Vicious, yelled, personal arguing is not persuasive. It’s mutual offensiveness. No one persuades by offending. You persuade by making a rational, fact-based case for your ideas, not an emotional rant.”

Montgomery suggests using debate and mock trial techniques. After they make a case for their candidate, “have them switch sides,” she says. “That turns down the volume. Daughter speaks for Trump, son for Hillary. Nothing comes out of either’s mouth without checking the fact with an unbiased fact-check site. Mom can even sound an obnoxious noisemaker when any statement is found to be false.” (See factcheck.org, politifact.com and the Fact Checker at washingtonpost.com.)

For a meaty discussion (and history lesson), “make a short list of successful presidents. Ask them to figure out what the job description really is,” says Montgomery. “Discuss demonstrated skills and personality traits.”

As for your son and daughter, Pobst says, “Their own relationship will, God willing, go on for another 60 to 70 years, while electoral preferences are time-bound. They shouldn’t fall into a pattern of talking to each other in ways that will undermine their relationship — or turn each other into cartoon characters.”

While these election-driven arguments are clearly frustrating you as parent, Montgomery says, “Rejoice that your kids are involved in the political process — noisy and uncomfortable as it is. It’s way preferable to the teenage shrug, followed by the mantra, ‘Whatever.’”

Find useful election resources at Harvard’s justiceinschools.org, c-spanclassroom.org and newseumed.org.

My third-grade daughter is struggling in school. She is anxious and thinks she’s dumb. I’m worried that she might have a learning problem. How can I find out?

It’s not unusual for a child to be anxious about going to school once in a while, especially early in the year. But if she’s feeling like she’s dumb and is struggling, take steps to find the reason why.

Amanda Morin, an educator and parent advocate, says it’s important to know your daughter is not alone in having these anxieties and challenges. In fact, roughly 1 in 5 kids have some type of challenge.

You may have heard the term “learning disabilities,” however, “the term ‘learning and attention issues’ is a little broader. It covers a wide range of challenges kids face — whether their issues have been formally identified or not,” says Morin, who’s an adviser at understood.org, a nonprofit organization for parents whose children have learning and attention issues.

Having these challenges doesn’t mean a child isn’t intelligent. “In fact, kids with learning and attention issues tend to be just as smart as their peers,” Morin explains.

Learning and attention issues are brain-based difficulties that can create struggles in different ways and to varying degrees. Kids may have trouble with reading, writing, math, organization, concentration, listening comprehension, social skills, motor skills or a combination of these.

It can be hard to know whether you’re seeing signs of learning and attention issues in your daughter if you’re not sure what skills are typical for her age and what’s expected of her developmentally and academically. To see key developmental milestones for third-graders, check out Morin’s article, “Developmental Milestones for Typical Second and Third Graders,” at understood.org.

This will help you get a better sense of where her skills fall. It’s also useful to become familiar with the academic skills kids usually learn in third grade. For some key concepts she’ll master, go to understood.org’s article, “What Third-Grade Academic Skills Typically Look Like in Action.”

Meet with your daughter’s teacher to see what she has noticed. Is your daughter having trouble with recognizing letters or with rhyming? Is reading, writing or math a challenge? Is she more distractible or less focused than other kids her age? Is she having trouble making friends?

You can ask your school district to do a free educational evaluation to identify issues your daughter may have and to help guide the type of support she will need at home and school.

The evaluation may introduce terms like “learning disability” or “learning disorder.” Those phrases are necessary to open doors to important services and supports for kids with learning and attention issues. It’s a way to get your daughter on a path to success — so don’t be too concerned about the label.

Neither you nor your daughter is alone in this, says Morin. “Learn what the experience may look like through your child’s eyes at understood.org,” she says. “Connect with other parents on the site. They can share experiences and tips that can help clear up confusion and make your journey easier.”

Our son is having a rocky start in middle school. It’s thrown him completely off balance. He forgets assignments and can’t manage time. The counselor thinks he needs better “executive functioning skills” and says to work with him. What are they?

Executive functioning concerns the “numerous mental processes and skills (that) help us plan for — and respond to — the tasks, challenges and opportunities we face,” writes Kristen Stanberry, an education writer who became interested in the topic after helping her son navigate the demands of high school.

Students with strong executive functioning skills have impulse and emotional control and can keep track of time, prioritize, plan and finish work on schedule. They can apply previously learned information to new problems. They’re good at analyzing ideas. They know where and when to look for help when they get stuck.

For an in-depth look at these skills, go to Stanberry’s excellent article, “Executive function: a new lens for viewing your child,” at GreatSchools.org.

A rough transition to middle school isn’t unusual, says Jan Abraham, a Naples, New York, middle school math teacher who has taught in the U.S. and abroad.

First, she says, “Determine where your son needs help. For some, it’s as simple as establishing and practicing routines that make days go smoothly. For example, getting ready at night for the following day (i.e., preparing his backpack with his homework in the proper folders, putting his trumpet next to his backpack for band practice, setting his alarm and so on).”

Some students are overscheduled and parents need to discuss prioritizing time: What choices will they make if priorities compete?

Others need to learn how to use the school’s web portal and school planner. “I ask students to add to their planner everything they know they’ll do during the school year, from Grandma’s birthday party in December to robotics on Tuesdays in January and February,” explains Abraham. “We discuss how to record and monitor assignments. They need to know and own their schedule.”

Many students benefit from explicit instruction in how to plan. “They are surprised to learn that there are actual steps to follow to get things done — whether it’s writing a report or building a fort,” Abraham says.

She teaches six steps using real-life projects that match students’ interests:

1) Analyze the task. Describe what needs to be done.

2) Plan. How will you handle the task?

3) Get organized. Break down the plan into steps.

4) Figure out the time needed. Plot hours, days or months for each step. Set aside the time on your calendar. Set alerts.

5) Make adjustments. Stuff happens; be flexible and regroup.

6) Finish the task in the time allotted. If you can’t, analyze why not. Was it poor planning, or factors outside of your control? How would you do it differently?

Projects can be as simple as planning a movie outing or as complex as that of an avid skateboarder who wants to build a half-pipe.

“A disorganized student doesn’t become an efficient whiz overnight,” says Abraham, “but if you model and make him practice, he’ll master skills that will give him a leg up all his life.”

My daughter, a first-grader, is thrilled to be back in school, but my son, who’s in third grade, is fighting it, especially homework. Nothing happened last year to make him reluctant to go back, so how can I get him excited?

For many kids, a new school year is exciting. But it’s totally normal for some children to experience nervousness and anxiety, says Virginia educator Ann Dolin.

“It’s not uncommon for kids to worry about whether they’ll be with old friends, or if they’ll get along with a new teacher, or whether they’ll remember anything from last year,” she explains.

Focus on listening to your son’s concerns and establishing positive routines, so he feels prepared, rested and confident. Excitement may follow!

Dolin, who taught in Fairfax, Virginia, for several years prior to launching her tutoring company, Educational Connections Inc., offers this advice:

– Find a calm time to talk. Probe and listen for reasons that might be causing your son’s resistance. Has anything happened recently that has upset him, such as a close friend being assigned to another class? Does he struggle with separation anxiety from you at other times? Is he getting enough sleep? Is he eating properly? For example, notes Dolin, research shows that sugary snacks can increase anxiety, so keep those out of his diet.

You mentioned homework is a worry. If having homework is new to him, “establish a routine for getting it done,” Dolin advises.

In a post on her website, she writes: “There are essentially five times to start homework: right after school, after a 30-minute break, before dinner, after dinner and right before bedtime. Elementary students often need down time after school, or when they return from their extra-curricular activities; about 30 minutes is usually sufficient. This is when homework should start.”

– Talk about what to expect in third grade. Build excitement for new learning. Check your school’s website for curriculum standards to identify subjects he’ll study. Point out topics that will interest him. For example, third-graders study the solar system. If he’s a “Star Wars” fan, this could excite him.

– Reinforce organizational routines: Getting back into a school-year groove doesn’t happen overnight. Stick with routines that give the school day a smooth start. For example, every evening, check his homework, then pack his backpack, and place it next to the door. Make his lunch and refrigerate it the night before and put a sticky note on the backpack so he doesn’t forget it. Have him choose and set out his clothes before he goes to bed. Establish a regular school-year bedtime and wake-up schedule that ensures he gets enough sleep.

Don’t drag out goodbyes, which can increase anxiety, says Dolin. “You don’t have to show tough love, but hold your tears and worries until you are out of his sight. Project confidence. Tell your son how excited you both will be when he comes home to tell you about his new friends and what he’s learning.”

If his anxieties don’t go away in a couple of weeks, meet with his teacher or school counselor to gather more information. For more tips, see Dolin’s blog at ectutoring.com.

Our middle school sent home tips for back-to-school success; one of them was to “enjoy family dinners together frequently.” With three teens in grades 7 through 11 who are going in different directions, that’s tough. Is there any research on this?

There is. Since 2001, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has studied the impact of family dinners on family interactions.

The research shows that more frequent family dinner gatherings ensure higher quality communication between kids and parents. Eating a meal together strengthens family relationships, something that’s particularly important for teens as they begin to forge influential peer relationships.

Joseph Califano Jr., the founder of CASA, emphasizes “that the magic that happens at family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the conversations and family engagement around the table.”

A senior policy analyst at CASA further explains, “Teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to say that their parents know a lot about what’s really going on in their lives. … Family dinners are the perfect opportunity when kids can talk to their parents and their parents can listen and learn.”

A 2012 CASA study showed that in homes where family meals were frequent (five to seven times a week), teens were more likely to say they had good relationships with their parents. In turn, they were less likely to say that they felt stressed and were less likely to use marijuana, alcohol and tobacco. When the quality of teens’ communication with parents declined, their likelihood of using marijuana, alcohol and tobacco increased.

To remind parents of the importance of family mealtime, every year CASA celebrates Family Day as “a day to eat dinner with your children.” This year, it’s Sept. 26. For more information, go to centeronaddiction.org.

A 2016 Common Sense Media survey of parents of kids 2 to 17 representing a range of American socioeconomic and ethnic groups found that more than 90 percent of respondents viewed conversations during dinner as an important way to learn about what’s going on in their kids’ lives. Seventy percent of the respondents said they carved out time to have dinner together five or more times a week.

While the family dinner isn’t some relic of the 1950s, today’s mobile devices are unwelcome newcomers to the table. Research shows that cellphones next to forks can disrupt and shut down conversations even when the devices aren’t in use.

Thirty-five percent of Common Sense Media survey respondents said they’d had an argument about using devices at the dinner table. More than half said they were concerned that devices at the table “were hurting their conversations,” writes Michael Robb, Common Sense director of research.

To encourage more families to declare the dinner table a tech-free zone, Common Sense Media has launched the Device-Free Dinner campaign. “Our devices keep us connected, informed and engaged, but dinner time is an important time to just say ‘no,’” urges James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. “Everything from better grades to a healthier lifestyle has been linked to eating together regularly as a family.”

Steyer invites families to take the Device-Free Dinner challenge, and “set an example for kids that we all need to carve out face-to-face conversation time in our lives.”

For more information, go to commonsensemedia.org.

My daughter, a high-school sophomore, was proud to get into a summer course in leadership at a local college. However, she got an incomplete because the professor said she plagiarized her paper. Now it will be hard to include that course on her college application. How could he tell?

Savvy educators spot the clues and use a range of digital tools — from a simple Google search to plagiarism trackers — to check students’ work.

“The internet and today’s amazing digital tools make cutting and pasting, or even buying the work of others, incredibly easy,” says Greta Love, a New York state reference librarian who teaches college students research techniques. “But those same tools make it easier for educators to spot the work of others using databases, search engines and sites that sell or give away term papers and so on.”

Worry less about what the incomplete does to your daughter’s college application and more about teaching her proper research skills for her writing from now on. That will be the best preparation for college.

Many students simply do not know what plagiarism is, says university educator Robert Harris, author of “The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting and Dealing With Plagiarism” (Routledge, 2001).

In an essay titled “Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers,” Harris writes that students hold misconceptions such as, “Everything on the internet is public domain and can be copied without citation,” or, “If you change an author’s words into your own words, you don’t have to cite it,” or, “If you copy fewer than 10 words, it’s OK not to use quotation marks.”

Some students don’t consider copying wrong, notes Harris, because they think information is for everyone. Still others are tempted to copy because they’re on a tight deadline, just not motivated by the topic or “know it’s wrong, but like the thrill of rule-breaking.”

To help your daughter, be explicit. “Plagiarism is using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit,” writes Harris. “When you use someone else’s words, you must put quotation marks around them or set them off in a block quotation and give the writer or speaker credit by revealing the source in a citation.

“Even if you revise or paraphrase the words of someone else or just use their ideas, you still must give the author credit in a citation. Not giving due credit to the creator of an idea or writing is very much like lying because without a citation, you are implying that the idea is your own.”

Once students understand why it’s wrong, Harris takes a positive approach. “Learning to write makes a person powerful,” he explains. “Whenever they cite a source, they are strengthening their writing, not weakening it.”

He goes on: “Citing a source, whether paraphrased or quoted, reveals that they have performed research work and synthesized the findings into their own argument. … The student is aware of other thinkers’ positions on the topic.”

Find more advice from Harris at his website VirtualSalt.com.

For more information, check out “The Plagiarism Spectrum: Tagging 10 Types of Unoriginal Work” at turnitin.com.

My daughters, ages 9 and 10, are earning money doing chores for neighbors such as dog walking, watering plants and redeeming cans. I want to teach them about investing and running a business before they spend it all. Are there apps for that?

There are apps and some good books, too. But before teaching them how to run a business, start with savings — namely, why we save and how.

Educator Gail Karlitz, author of “Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids” (Price Stern Sloan, 2010), suggests you begin by explaining the concepts of needs (food, housing, clothes), wants (treats, entertainment, things we like but don’t need), goals (things we must save for, such as a new bike), and giving (charitable donations, birthday presents).

She encourages kids to use a clear plastic envelope, box, jar or piggy bank for each category, so “they can see the actual money.”

Karlitz also suggests keeping a notebook with a running total of what they are earning, and how they are allocating their earnings in each category.

One website, ThreeJars.com, helps kids track their money in saving, spending and sharing jars. The site shows them the tradeoffs between saving and spending, and allows them to earn interest on their savings jar. (It costs $30 annually.)

You can teach the girls about running a business by drawing examples from their summer. Lead them through questions such as, “What do you need to increase can redemptions?” If the answer is investing in a larger bin to store more cans until making a trip to the redemption center, you can discuss what that costs and if the investment is worth it.

Educational game maker Motion Math has created a couple of excellent apps that simulate running businesses and boost kids’ math and reasoning skills, says Warren Buckleitner, the editor of the Children’s Technology Review (childrenstech.com).

The “Motion Math: Pizza!” app gives kids a start-up budget to open a pizza shop with customers who must be kept satisfied.

The “Motion Math: Cupcake!” app lets players bake and sell cupcakes and be responsible for making decisions that influence all aspects of the business, from delivering orders to managing costs.

“Even though it’s pretend money, kids start to understand that if you blow all your money on sprinkles for your cupcakes, you won’t have enough to meet all the customers’ needs and you lose money in the end,” says Buckleitner.

Each app costs $6 and is available at the Apple Store.

Two books geared to your daughters’ age levels can help teach them more sophisticated investment concepts.

“How to Turn $100 Into $1,000,000″ (Workman, 2016) offers an easy-to-grasp explanation of compound interest, what the book calls “the most powerful force in the financial universe.”

In “Blue Chip Kids: What Every Child (and Parent) Should Know About Money, Investing, and the Stock Market” (Wiley, 2015), author David Bianchi makes sophisticated concepts such as stocks, bonds, analyzing companies, interest rates, net worth and asset allocation understandable.

As you’re studying the best books or apps for your kids, take heart: Surveys have shown that 1 in 5 American adults think that hitting the lottery is the best strategy to save for retirement. Your daughters are lucky. They will have no such illusions.

My husband and I just divorced; our two elementary school-aged daughters will spend the school week with me and most weekends with him. They are still dealing with the impact of their father moving out. Should we let their new teachers know about the divorce?

Yes. You don’t need to go into detail, but alerting the teachers is in everyone’s best interests. Research shows that children whose parents were divorcing reported being more anxious, lonely and sad than children whose parents remained married. According to a 2011 study of 3,500 elementary children, parents’ divorce caused setbacks in math and social skills.

“Any major change in a family’s circumstances can have a strong impact on children’s emotional wellbeing and sense of security,” says Dr. Jane Bluestein, an Albuquerque-based educator and psychologist who works with teachers and parents to improve the social-emotional climate in schools. “Any big transition can affect children’s concentration, commitment to school, achievement and behavior. So it makes sense to let the school know anytime some significant incident, loss or change occurs.”

Bluestein says that when she taught, she always appreciated knowing if a student’s parents were going through a divorce — “not to make excuses for the child’s backsliding or acting out, but to know that a little extra support and TLC might be in order. Teachers want to build a productive home-school relationship. Letting them know means that they can help your daughters through a time of change.”

Keep an eye out for changes in behavior or signs of stress and anxiety. “Most schools have resources — likely a counselor — who can support students through these transitions,” advises Bluestein. “Find out about what’s available, even if you think you won’t need it.”

Routines and consistency are important for all children, but especially so for kids who are dividing their time between two different homes. Bluestein advises working with their father to align your school-related expectations for the girls. For example, establish a common bedtime for school nights and weekends; decide when homework will be done and how it will be checked; make sure you’re on the same page concerning extracurricular and weekend activities so that they don’t miss experiences that their friends are a part of.

Most important is establishing strong, ongoing communication with the school. How will you and their father stay informed about your daughters’ progress?

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, “both father and mother should receive communications from the school, such as teacher and school newsletters, access to the school portals, notices of upcoming events, and report cards,” says Bluestein. “You should both be listed as emergency contacts and, if possible, attend parent conferences together so that your daughters know that you both care about their schooling and share expectations for their success.” Bluestein offers more practical tips parents on her website: janebluestein.com/2016/ways-to-help-your-child-survive-your-divorce/.

Another helpful resource is the book “Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce” (Avery, 2010). The author, Joanne Pedro-Carroll, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who has studied the impact of divorce. Her research-based advice can help you guide your daughters in the big transitions that accompany separation and divorce.

We want to take an educational family road trip so our kids — going into third, fourth and sixth grades — can experience things beyond our small town. Do you have any suggestions? No theme parks, please.

Begin the “educational” part before you set out. Ask the kids to do the research on where you should go and what you should do. Give them a budget and time frame. Then pull out the maps, apps and guides.

First, settle on a geographic region that offers several attractions to be explored without driving all day.

Next, make a list of all the events, institutions, parks and places in the region that might appeal to your kids.

“When they choose the places to visit, they arrive excited because they own the decision,” says Eric Hamilton, the assistant director of the National Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology at New York’s American Museum of Natural History (amnh.org).

Create your list from travel magazines and the family sections of online guides such as Fodor’s, Frommer’s and Lonely Planet. Check out the family travel bloggers at Red Tricycle (redtri.com). Scan the region’s hotel and visitors bureau sites for nearby attractions.

Find kid-friendly museums at the American Alliance of Museums website (aam-us.org). The Association of Science-Technology Centers (astc.org) and the Association of Children’s Museums (childrensmuseums.org) also have excellent options. Check listings on the National Register of Historic Places (nps.gov/nr). The National Conservation Lands website (blm.gov/NLCS) shows monuments, wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers, and historic trails.

Is there a National Park in the region you’ve selected? To celebrate the 100th anniversary of our parks system, the Department of the Interior invites fourth-graders and their families to visit for free. Go to everykidinapark.gov to get your family’s pass.

Once you have a working list, ask your sixth-grader to create an Excel file with key information on your destinations. This should include their addresses, websites, prices (including “free family” days), hours, if reservations are needed for special events, the availability of free educational materials, what not to miss, visitor reviews and so on.

Be mindful of how much time you will have on your vacation. “Don’t overschedule. Too often parents think kids will motor through one stop and then want to rush to the next, but we find young visitors want to take their time,” says Jack E. Lighton, the president of Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Florida (marinelife.org).

“When kids see these huge, magnificent creatures that have lived on Earth for more than 100,000,000 years, they have so many questions for our docents,” Lighton explains. “They want to post their photos to Instagram. They want to follow the progress of turtles that we’ve brought back to health and released. It’s a very personalized learning experience.”

While you want the trip to be educational, don’t overdo it. “If your kids want to keep a notebook, great. But don’t require it or anything else that smacks of an assignment,” says the American Museum of Natural History’s Hamilton.

“The real educational value comes from the many conversations you will continue to have with your children long after the trip is done,” he adds. “You’ll connect what they saw to new learning. For example, if you visited a planetarium, discuss a news item about a SpaceX launch. Each of these experiences are building blocks for new knowledge.”

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