Laura Sandefer

There is an abundance of lists out there telling us what we should tell our children each day. Some I agree with and some I do not. My own list encapsulates the spirit we carry at Acton Academy for each child. I decided to share it for that reason:

  • I trust you.
  • I like you. (This is not a variation of “I love you.” It is something completely different.)
  • I can’t wait to see what choices you make today.
  • You can do really hard things.
  • You are a treasure; the fact that you exist is what brings me joy.
  • I was wrong. I am sorry.
  • Tell me more.
  • I love spending time with you – even if we are doing nothing or running errands.

I’ll close with this poem by Robert Frost. It is one of my favorites because it is so tenderly intimate. His words remind me how precious is an invitation to do daily life together. I try to remember this and think aloud about the tasks I need to do within hearing distance from my boys. I then say, “You come too.” Sometimes they do and my soul sings because there we are just quietly filling up bird feeders together, or picking out fruit at the grocery store.

The Pasture

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;

I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away

(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):

I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf

That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young,

It totters when she licks it with her tongue.

I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

Co-founder and Chief Encourager for Acton Academy


Laura Sandefer is an author and the co-founder of Acton Academy, a school whose learner-driven model is spreading across the globe with over 130 locations in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Guatemala, Canada, Malaysia and more, and in 2019 is celebrating 10 years of letting children take learning into their owns hands.

Acton Academy bases their model of learning on the Hero’s Journey: a story pattern common in ancient myths and modern day adventures in which a hero goes on an adventure, wins a victory and comes home transformed. Children at Acton Academy know why they are being challenged to learn — they are on their own Hero’s Journey to find their passion in life.

Acton Academy and Sandefer have been featured in the Austin American Statesman, Inc., Forbes, National Review, Huffington Post and more. Sandefer has a bachelor of arts and masters of education degrees from Vanderbilt University. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, children and three dogs.