We just had our first parent lunch of the year! We were able to share parenting tips and do some awesome community-building activities.
This week, the Eagles have been learning about setting goals and holding themselves accountable. With the parents, we talked about the process to get to the end result of the goal.
If your goal is to go to the park, what do you need to pack to get there and have a good time? You will need to pack sunscreen, snacks, chairs, and many other things. However, children rarely see this process. They do not realize that there are so many things going on in your mind as you are planning. All they see is, “Magic! We’re at the park!”
A little hack to help your children realize that there is more to it than the goal itself is to say your thoughts out loud. As your child hears you walk your mind through the process, they will start to realize that there is more effort into achieving goals than what they thought. You may also ask the children what they think they should bring, and then have them prepare to go to the park!
Another thing that can help is asking them, “What is your process?” When they say what their goal is, ask them what their process is to get it done. What is the lead domino or the smallest thing they can do every day to move toward their goal?
Here at Acton everything is built around process and systems. Setting the goal is only the first step! The more important step is defining and setting in place your process to get to the result you want.
The Eagles just started their new quest and it was amazing. Our guest speaker was Brian Bollinger, a professional board game designer of the Wild East Game Company. He helped launch the Eagles into their Game Design Quest! He also dove deep into creating a game, testing it with your peers, and perfecting it in the end. He even told us about cool websites where you can create a game and publish it.
We are also excited for our Explorers (the 5 and 6 years old) who are doing a similar quest but focusing more on the etiquette of how to play a game as well as how to win or lose graciously. They are even learning how to put the game away and respect the materials.
Through this quest, we are hoping that the Eagles will be inspired with a love of design and creation, have a deeper curiosity about probability in the real world, and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of taking a deliberate path towards excellence.
At the end of the quest the Eagles will host a Public Game Expo where they will showcase their own handmade board games and online video games that they have created!
Mindfulness isn’t just meditation. There is a way you can integrate mindfulness into your daily life just by getting good at being in the moment. The easiest way to do this is by scheduling pauses throughout the day.
I take a few moments in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night to pause and notice the things around me. It is a time where I am fully present, paying attention to all the feelings and sensations around me.
I heard someone who perfectly described mindfulness as “Paying attention on purpose without judgment.” You can do it while walking, eating, or simply sitting down. All you need is a few seconds or a minute in your day. Meditation is a way for mindfulness, but it isn’t the only tool.
At Acton Academy, we show the Eagles how they can get more out of life by making mindfulness a daily habit. I am happy to share that we just started our mindfulness class this week, where we guide our Eagles to learn the idea of mindfulness while they are young. The more they are mindful, the more their time is stretched because they are not distracted.
Our children are growing up in a fast-paced modern world where we are always thinking of the next thing. A lot of parents find themselves multitasking and never being fully present. We also wonder where we need to be next. I encourage all parents to practice mindfulness as well. Once your children see that you’re doing it, they will start doing it too!
We just wrapped up our session and had an amazing exhibition of learning. All the parents and grandparents came to see what their children have been doing for the past 6 weeks.
We unveiled the quest project, which was the renovation of their bag room out in the backyard. It’s amazing how they have done all the cutting, drilling, and even painting.
They also signed the Studio contract where they would write the rules they expect each other to follow and solemnly signed their name, promising they will adhere to the contract.
In addition, they were also able to show the core skills work they have been working on. The younger students had shown their parents’ the Montessori works, while the older students had shown the computer programs they have been using.
A parent training on Acton Academy’s Journey Tracker was also conducted. It is a program we used to track everything each child is doing. Parents can see where their child is and what they have accomplished simply by logging in.
We’re so excited for our next quest and for all the new programs we are introducing, such as yoga and mindfulness class. Thank you to everyone who made it! Everyone was full of encouragement, making it such an amazing experience.
Most of the time when we do a launch, there is a problem that has to be fixed. We always have the Eagles figure out the solution and a way to fix it themselves. This morning, our guide opened up with the question, “How can we get everybody to the circle and morning launch on time?”
Since the beginning of the school year, the closest the Eagles have been to “on time” was 5 minutes late. For every minute they are late, they have to do 10 push-ups. This morning, they did 50 push-ups! But not even 50 push-ups have made them change their habit of being late.
They were asked more questions so that they would get to the realization themselves of how they can arrive at the circle faster. They answered, “We just have to get here faster!” But the Guide pointed out that their answer is the solution, not the steps to get to the solution.
So they were asked another question, “What are the things we can do to help each other do that?” They shared different ideas, but the one they chose to go with is simple: When they put their backpack away, they have to immediately grab their notebook and put it over at the circle area, since getting notebooks is what makes everybody so late.
They came up with a brilliant solution and it was an Eagle’s idea!! Let’s see how many will be doing push ups tomorrow!
We recently did an activity called the Balloon Challenge where the Eagles were paired up together. They had different challenges to walk together as a 2 person team around the perimeter of our big backyard holding a balloon between them. One challenge was to hold the balloon with one hand each, and if they dropped it they had to go back to the beginning. Then they had to use their forearms, elbows, etc. as the challenge progressed. There were many tears of frustration as they went up the levels of the challenge and did something harder.
What’s even more difficult is having a partner that challenges them. At the beginning of the activity, we paired them up with someone they didn’t normally get along with. Having no control over what their partner was doing, or the outcome was totally out of their comfort zone.
At the end of the activity, we had a group circle and talked about the lessons they had learned. They shared things like being clear when communicating and being patient with other people. We could clearly see their inner strength and understanding of each other expand as they went through the exercise. Even after just an hour and a half, the atmosphere in the studio changed and those that were not getting along are now treating each other with respect!
Most of them cried, but they kept trying. To see the Eagles on the verge of giving up and then seeing them wanting to try again was amazing. It was such a beautiful lesson that was beyond what we all expected.
In Acton Academy, learners are self-driven. As a result, they get to enjoy a ton of freedom as they come up with their own goals and schedules, work where they want to, eat when they want to and take breaks when they want to.
However, this is not at all how our Acton looks at the moment. Right now, things are different. Everything is strict and rigid. All learners have assigned seats and they have to stay at their table whenever they do core skills, snacks are scheduled, core skills are scheduled. In the first session of the year, the Eagles have to learn to be responsible and prove themselves in order to gain the freedom they want to enjoy.
This may not be our ideal version of school just yet, but gradually something amazing happens. Because the Eagles earn their own freedom, they learn to appreciate and value it more because it came at such a great cost for them. They also learn that they have to work hard to earn things in life – which is an especially important lesson in today’s “age of entitlement “.
So if you walked onto the Acton Academy NH campus today, you might ask “Where is all the freedom?” And our answer is “Coming soon!”
Have you ever been in a situation wherein, you have this plan and a clear idea of how things are going to go, but they end up happening way better than you expected? That’s what happened to our first week of school here at Acton! I thought everything would be great, but everything turned out to far exceed my expectations. We played a lot of games and engaged in problem-solving activities and all our Eagles had so much fun!
One of the things that fell into place was the Studio Maintenance. We haven’t even introduced it yet to the Eagles, but they organically took ownership of their space and were able to clean up without being asked to do so. One Eagle initiated cleaning of the bag room and afterward, they created a chore chart where everybody voluntarily signed up for different tasks.
The fact that no adult ever said anything about cleaning up and they figured it all out on their own is what Acton’s all about! We applaud our Eagle’s actions and ideas and help them figure out how to implement tasks. Here at Acton Academy, we make our Eagles feel independent and empowered to be in control of their choices, actions, and goals so they can be prepared for their futures.
Now that the public schools have come out with their plans, I have been getting a lot of phone calls here at Acton Academy. Most people have the same set of questions, such as “Is Acton Academy a Montessori school?” and “What grade level do you go up to?” and “Are you full- time in person?”
Here are the answers to questions I’m often asked. I hope you find this video helpful!