It felt like it happened overnight.
One day we were all at school, laughing, learning, competing in sports, and playing together.
The next day, the world got sick. Schools closed. Businesses shuttered. People lost jobs. Hospitals looked like war zones. And we all quarantined in our homes—with no end date in sight—as the only defense against the mysterious, mighty virus.
For many of us, our children’s school situation may look very different than we anticipated at the start of the year. But for our children’s sake, this is not a time to be fearful, it’s a time to seek joy!
Sharing stories may be the best gift we can give each other. I am grateful to Erin Martin, an Acton mom, who most generously sent me this story to share with you:
It was nearing 6:30am and I found myself losing focus on the last part of my workout. My ears were straining to listen for my 10 year old daughter’s footsteps upstairs. Was she up and getting herself ready for school? Was she making her way to the piano?
Making the Most of an Acton Quest Exhibition: What Just Happened and How Do I Talk to My Child About It? by Shannon Falkenstein, M.Ed., Acton Academy & Montessori, El Salvador (Guest post from my fellow Acton founder)
While each Acton Academy community has its own culture and personality, we are bound by the same key principles that drive our daily work:
Principle #1. We treat each child as a hero with the respect due a world changing genius, no matter the personality, learning style or circumstance.
What does it mean to be Socratic? You may be surprised.
What if we told you it means to live with a burning sense of curiosity? To be delighted in learning new things? To happily express that you do not have all the answers? To shed the armor of being an expert?
As we take on this new reality of doing school from home, Jeff and I believe a path to finding more joy and less frustration as a parent is to become more Socratic with our children.
As promised in my last post which described what it means to be Socratic and the five steps to getting there, I’ll break down each of the steps individually over the next few days.
Over the past four years, we have offered books as gifts and as suggestions to our parents. Part of the application process includes reading one of our suggested books and critiquing it. At the new campus we will have a Parents Bookshelf where you can borrow a book and share a book. The list below is our most popular reading list. Please let me know if you’d like to borrow a copy of one in particular. Enjoy, enjoy!
It was a battle we were not winning.
Every time Jeff or I took a stand to limit “tech time” at home, it would stick for a day or two, maybe a week.
Then we’d forget or get busy or decide we were too tired to fight that battle and before we knew it, a few months had gone by and we were once again sitting looking at each other saying we were terrible parents.
The big question for parents at Acton is this: What is the healthy balance between helicoptering and neglect? How can we parents be involved in our child’s learning to fly in a way that does not hold them back?
While I have no parenting advice for you, I do know there are five important ways we can support and equip our children each day as they work to find their callings and change the world
The mindset shift that happens at Acton Academy with the children is two-fold:
1) Shifting from a fixed mindset (I’m just not good at math) to a growth mindset (I can learn anything, and I need to work extra hard in math.
2) Shifting from a victim mindset (This isn’t fair!) to a hero mindset (I can help fix this problem)
Over the past twelve years, I’ve been inspired by many heroic parents in my midst. The list of strong character traits I witness in their lives is too long to post here.
But of all of the traits parents carry, there are two that yield the strongest impact in equipping children to become thriving, independent, kind and purposeful humans.
I never thought I’d quote Alice Cooper in this blog but the ‘70’s song is stuck in my head:
“School’s out for summer!”
My nostalgia runs high on this particular day. It is the day when it feels like the entire world is celebrating that release from indenture – a reprieve from mandatory desk time and being told what to do. I remember as a young girl that feeling of pure glee on this day.
“If you really care about someone ask them to do the hardest thing you can think of. And I am not talking about running an ironman. It may be writing an email, asking for help or showing up.” – Marcia Caporn, Acton School of Business Graduate, Stanford graduate, two sport All American in soccer and golf, Gold Medalist, professional athlete, cover of Sports Illustrated.
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.)
There is bound to be conflict on the home front – especially now as the coronavirus pandemic keeps us sheltered in place with new pressures and stresses.
To help you when tensions arise, I wanted to share the process we use at Acton to equip the Eagles to resolve their own conflicts.
We’ve been here before. Reality is settling in and we’re remembering how rugged the road ahead is for heroes on a learning journey. It’s already making us a little tired and we’ve started dreading the days when all we can muster is: “How was your day?” and “Did you learn anything new?”
We’ve witnessed in our Acton studios that reflection time is the magic key to deepen learning. It’s been one of my favorite things to remember to do at home, as well.
A holiday tradition that’s worked for us may work for you, too. During this busy time, it’s easy to overlook the importance of quietly thinking and listening to each other’s hopes and dreams
As the Eagles have been busily wrestling with the theory of probabilities and risk assessment, the Socratic discussions have all pointed to the question: Does the past determine the future? More personally, can I determine my future based on my actions today? And further, if I know myself better, can I increase my odds of success in achieving my goals?
We aren’t teaching to a test, or merely aiming to get your child into college.
We envision the long haul: your child growing into a life rich with transformational learning, courageous problem-solving, intimate relationships and meaningful work.
Parents tend to crave the kind of learning that feels familiar to them – especially when it comes to “science.”
A recent conversation with a parent best describes why at Acton Academy, our science learning comes in the form of quests with real world problems to solve rather than textbooks and written tests:
I just clicked off my “Zoom” meeting with 33 elementary studio Eagles and their wonderful guide. We gathered at 8:30am sharp, just like every day. And, just like every day, there was laughter, sincerity and excitement. Though we are apart physically, we are together in spirit.
One of my children hates to struggle with learning. He likes things to come easily to him. Learning is a joy for him until he hits a concept or a problem that requires great effort and quantities of trial and error. His confidence stagnates and I suddenly hear the pencil slam and the “I hate math” or “this is so boring” mantra begin.