I wanted to be a doctor.

When I was growing up, for a brief period around the age of 10, I wanted to make lots of money. Because of this, I decided that I would become a doctor, despite my inability to look at or touch blood. My mother, who knew her squeamish boy would never be a doctor, still encouraged me to become one and bought me a toy stethoscope so I could live out my dream by checking her heart for abnormalities multiple times a day.

That anecdote came to mind while thinking about what to write this week as students head back to school. I thought of the vast amount of potential our students have and the teachers we entrust to cultivate it. For the most part our school system does a magnificent job, still 1 in 5 students do not graduate from high school within five years.

I thought of my nephew at eight years old with his love of technology and building things. The things this kid can build with Lego! What role could I play in his development to reduce the risk of him not completing high school? I decided I could introduce him to the website code.org to show him how to build his own games and programs.

I then thought of my niece who loves puzzles and used her allowance to buy a toy cleaning set, complete with broom and vacuum. How could I show an interest in her education and challenge her thinking in the future? I asked if she could invent some way to improve her toy vacuum. She decided that adding glue or tape to the bottom would allow it to pick up garbage more effectively.

And last but certainly not least, the baby of the family. Did you know more than 30% of kindergarten children in Edmonton have difficulties in one or more areas of development? How could I help with her development before she even enters the school system? Reading aloud to children is a great way to improve their comprehension and understanding of words, improving skills that will help them succeed in all school subjects (maybe not PE).

So what am I getting at? Students will be going back to school soon, but we can’t let their education begin and end during the school months, routinely inquiring what was learnt that day. We also need to find opportunities to challenge students while at home, and they aren’t that hard to find once you start look.