Family Trails

In order to set a child on the path to lifelong success, a teacher cannot be the sole source of education. When the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) approached Brains on Fire, they wanted to create a resource and build a community that helped parents embrace their role as educators in life. We were engaged to promote Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®, and to inspire family learning through adventure.

We knew creating a task list of educational activities wouldn’t resound with families in the real world. If we wanted families to learn together, we would need to make the experience feel like a wonderful adventure rather than a chore.

Our team spent time mining the social space, exploring and observing the things families were already sharing. We quickly discovered that families didn’t feel confident about what qualified as learning through adventure, and lacked an understanding of just how impactful those shared, daily moments could be. Additionally, there was little connection, collaboration or conversation happening between adventuring families.

We developed a platform that would connect families across the country by elevating and celebrating their family learning adventures. We found diverse, influential bloggers who had already developed strong voices in the family learning and adventure conversations. Using the elements of surprise and mystery, we designed a padlocked (anticipated code came later) wooden box branded with #FamilyTrails. The boxes were filled with items to kick start family adventures and entice the bloggers to join as our first “Trails Guides.” Our request was simple: share your family adventures and encourage others to do the same. This initial handful of families became the flagship bloggers for Family Trails, setting the stage for a conversation about family learning that thousands of families across the world would join in on through #FamilyTrails . Many of the families featured from our early social research went on to become official Family Trails contributors. The volume of meaningful, user-generated content shared by the community also inspired the development of Trails Mix, a quarterly digital magazine curating the best of family adventures submitted by contributors from more than 136 countries.

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