Excited for our Fall 2020 opening plans!!!

ATTENTION LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: Acton Academy NH will be open in person for Fall 2020!! Our first day of school is Monday, August 17th.

I have been getting a lot of questions about what our plans are for Fall 2020. We realize that a few local schools have already decided that they will be returning to school in the Fall via remote learning. Acton has decided to pivot in a different way! We have always valued outside time for our Eagles and gone on many weekly hikes and outside adventure time. Now, we are going to bring the entire studio outside! 

Our generously-sized backyard will allow us to have many places for the students to do core skills, group quest projects and even relax with a good book. Our extremely small class size, and additional cleaning and safety protocols, makes Acton one of the safest options for your children. 

Another huge asset that we have is our Lead Guide, Mr. TJ, who went to school for Outdoor Adventure Education! He is ready to lead the charge outside and set up a learning environment that is truly exciting and refreshing.

We can’t wait to see everyone again and welcome in our new Eagles as we Build the Tribe for the 2020-2021 school year!

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The Secret Sauce of Being a Hero at Acton Academy

Let me share with you a blog written by another Acton Academy owner. In her story, she expressed her reaction when she first heard about the Hero’s Journey and how we call our learners “Heroes” in the studio.

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In a time of being ALONE…we are more CONNECTED than ever!

The other day my husband showed me a video on Facebook (I posted it on my timeline). It was a mother and daughter singing together on the free group Rock the Lock Down that has opened for artists to “open mic” their music. The singing was great but the most beautiful part was that they were doing this amazing performance together! I wondered if the mother-daughter pair would’ve ever taken the time and energy to record themselves if they weren’t at home in quarantine. And I thought about how special that was.

When I drive home, I am always passing parents walking or biking with their children. Almost daily. Would these families be taking so much time to enjoy the outside together if they weren’t at home in quarantine? These are beautiful, special moments that are happening in families across the country as we are all spending time at home. How much time have you gained back now that you aren’t commuting to work? Now that you don’t have to spend time chauffeuring to sports, dance, karate, and other extracurriculars?

What golden moments can you share with your children during this time? Perhaps you can write and publish a book together. There is a website called Storybird where you can write a story to different pictures and then have it professionally bound and printed and mailed to you!

Maybe you can build a tree-fort in the yard or subscribe to Tinker Boxes where you are mailed a surprise box with something to build inside, geared for hands-on STEM (Here is a link to TinkerTots for younger children). Maybe you plant a garden together or cook together, sew a quilt, knit, paint, make a volcano, invent something.

Do not overwhelm yourself with a ton of projects, but pick one that lights up your child and sparks their passion. There are still adventures to be had, even when we are social distancing. Pack a picnic and eat outside – or if it’s raining, have a picnic inside, lay out a blanket on the living room floor, and pretend you are on the beach! Have fun, be spontaneous. Make the extra time you have to be with your loved ones count!

“Love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again” – Max Lucado

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What Virtual Learning Looks Like at Acton Academy

There is a sudden need for distance learning due to the COVID-19 crisis. The situation we are in right now is brand new and hasn’t been done before. Teachers around the world are facing different challenges as they help their students study from home. Some schools are doing a great job and some are still trying to navigate the waters. 

Here at Acton Academy, the Eagles remain very engaged. They have an individual check-in with the guide throughout the day. We still have our Socratic discussions every morning. In the afternoon, we have virtual meetings in Google hangouts that launch them into projects. We are also doing more individualized quests that still have group aspects to them. Music and Art classes have continued every week as well.

The Eagles have Kindness Class twice a week where they develop their character and learn things such as handling strong emotions. We finish our day with our closing circle where we go over the day and questions are raised for discussions. 

The biggest thing we are missing right now is getting together for our adventure time, such as going to the beach, hiking, or simply going to the playground. But overall, our Eagles still have a full-on schedule. After all, learning can happen anywhere!

If all goes as planned, our school will be opening in-person again in August. But whatever happens, one thing is for sure, our Eagles and our community are resilient and the Acton future is bright!

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Who Do I Need To Become To Achieve My Goals?

Heroes become heroes through hard work and effort. They didn’t just wake up one day and have incredible strength. There was a process for them to arrive at their greatness. 

At Acton Academy, we push to our Eagles the question of “Who do you need to become to achieve your goals?” This exercise is just as valuable to adults as it is for elementary age students.

Now, imagine already having achieved your big goal. What does that version of you look like? What do you embody? Are you more confident? More kind? More focused? Find the adjective you need to emulate and then ask yourself, “How can I show up this way throughout the day?” Make it your intention to be that adjective. At the end of each day, rate yourself on how you did and ask yourself, “How will I do better next time?”

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Kindness Class

I was 27 years old when I first heard about Deepak Chopra and who he was. Because of him, I was introduced to what mindfulness was really about. I used to think that meditation either meant you had to be a Buddhist monk chanting on a mountainside or able to completely silence your thoughts, which I found out to be completely untrue. At that time, I had no idea that focusing on your breath is a practice that the most successful people in the world do every day.

Fast forward 10 years, I am so excited to have found the Kindness Class developed by the University of Wisconsin. Its curriculum consists of mindfulness-based lessons and practices focused on attention, breath, and caring (ABC).

Since the Kindness Class was implemented in schools in 2008, the results have been tremendous. Children drastically improved their sharing and empathy compared with their peers that did not take the class. Aside from that, their academics also improved substantially.

We have started implementing the Kindness Class in the studio at Acton Academy. Here are a few more examples of what the Eagles are learning and practicing:

  • Listening to a nature soundtrack and identifying how many animals they hear to pay attention on the outside.
  • Answering questions such as “How does it feel to have to wait your turn?” to pay attention on the inside.
  • Blowing on a pinwheel and becoming mindful of your breath movement.
  • Planting “seeds” in a kindness garden every time they demonstrate kindness.

As a result of these practices, the Eagles learn how to do deep breathing, finding a quiet place, and simply acknowledging their emotions. It is a true gift to learn these techniques at an elementary school age and to start to discover and explore the deepness of yourself as a human!

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Involving Children in Decision Making

At Acton Academy, we use Montessori works with the younger students. We use a lot of hands-on materials for Math, Reading, and Writing. Many people don’t realize that Montessori philosophies go beyond just the core skills materials and include a way of talking to your child and interacting with them. 

I want to share an interesting blog I found. It’s an encouragement from the work of Alfie Kohn that involves a mind shift to try “working with” your child rather than “doing to”. This doesn’t mean your children will be in charge! It simply means allowing them to come up with a plan and be part of the decision process. 

For instance,  let’s say there is an afternoon where the kids want to play but you have to go to the grocery store.  You could try to bribe them and manipulate the outcome by saying “If you are good at the grocery store,  then we can go to the park” OR you can say “I want to go to the store and you want to go to the park. How can we make that work?” And let the children come up with “Let’s go to the store and then the park!” When children are involved in making the plan, they are more likely to cooperate without feeling manipulated. 

Make your child a part of the decision. Allow them to be a part of the conversation and feel like a valued member of the family. 

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Following Your Child’s Joy

At Acton Academy, we encourage students to lose themselves in activities. We support them whenever they find something that captures their hearts and brain and will take them away for a while.

We call it being in the zone.

When one of our Eagles is in the zone, we try to let them stay there as long as they need it. Those special moments are valuable. As parents, we need to recognize those moments when they happen and let them unfold.

Let your children be children, not always having an agenda or schedule laid out. Life is too full of schedules. Give your child a little break today. Let them explore and investigate their natural surroundings. Right now, we have the opportunity to deviate from that path a little bit and explore with curiosity the world around us.

Here is a great article that can help you balance working and schooling from home.

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3 Tips for At-Home Learning

Many parents today are at home with their kids. If you are one of them, here are a few tips:

  1. Give your child a schedule to work by.
    All of the Acton Academy students are working remotely right now. Having a written schedule and putting it out for them to see is key. You can put in on the wall or a piece of paper so they can refer to it.
  2. Use online platforms.
    There are a lot of great online platforms we use at Acton. Hopefully, traditional schools are using them as well. If you need a suggestion, please reach out to me so I can help you with the subject you are looking for.
  3. Help children under 7 to be as independent as possible.
    Put things out on an open shelf so they can access everything by themselves. You can even put out their daily snacks in a bin so they can decide when they would like to eat them. Doing so helps them become independent, direct their own learning, and choose their own activities for the day.

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Navigating Uncertainty

As adults, navigating uncertainty is so challenging. It’s even more confusing for young people who are just learning what their role in the world is. As parents, letting our children know it is not their job to worry or make the world a safe place is a must. They can find ways to help, but it isn’t their job to be anxious about what’s going to happen.

If your child is watching the news with you, seek out new stories that highlight the heroes who are trained to be helpers or are being helpers just out of the goodness of their hearts. Doing so gives them security and inspiration seeing adults working to keep the world a safe place.

Allow your children to express their fears. Let them tell you what they are thinking and how they are feeling. Find out if they want more information or less information. Ask questions. It’s so easy to say “you shouldn’t be afraid” and reassure them that everything will be okay. But doing so won’t help their inner growth. Try not to tell them how to think and process.  Although it can be hard, try not to project your own feelings on them. You can tell them about your thoughts and feelings, but let them have their own, and validate them even if they are different from yours.

At Acton Academy, our Eagles know what it is like to be a helper in the community and the studio. At a very young age, they know how to fill up each other’s buckets and think of ways to help others through challenging times.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Fred Rogers

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