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Acton Parent Bootcamp – This may be all you really need to know

Acton Parent Bootcamp – This may be all you really need to know

Laura Sandefer

September 20, 2018

Want to feel like an Acton parent who just finished our new parent bootcamp? Here are the bullet points to help you thrive on this learning adventure of a lifetime:

  • Our mission at Acton Academy is for each person who enters our doors to find a calling that will change the world.
  • We promise to honor the Parent Contract and nurture our magical tribe which is like a garden in the elementary studio, a trekking adventure in the middle school and an elite team in our Launchpad studio.
  • We prepare Eagles for extraordinary lifelong adventures after Launchpad, so struggle and occasionally unhappiness are important parts of the journey into real growth and maturity.
  • If your Eagle is in the early years of the elementary studio, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy these precious years. Curiosity and kindness matter far more than academic progress.
  • For late elementary, middle school and Launchpad parents, showing an intense interest in your Eagle’s work through growth mindset praise is the most powerful motivator.
  • Be prepared to tolerate occasional unhappiness or frustration without catering to it. Strive to put your Eagle “back in the game” with encouragement to play honestly by the rules when Weekly Points (effort); Badges(excellent work) or 360-Peer Reviews (Leadership) result in low Freedom Levels and sometimes the desire to quit.
  • In most cases, simply trust the processes and natural consequences. If your Eagle receives an Honor Code violation, it will be a powerful learning experience. A cause for concern is if your Eagle receives two Honor Code violations, a Transition Contract or persistently remains in low freedom levels in middle school or Launchpad. If you want to do more to help your Eagle in late ES, MS and LP: (1) ask your Eagle for a tour of Journey Tracker and monitor short term goals; (2) double down on your family plan; and/or (3) address Resistance (more courage); Distraction (remove video games and television); and Victimhood (probe family dynamics.)
  • If your Eagle struggles mightily, try not to blame yourself: sixty percent of temperament is hereditary. Have faith, however, that young people will surprise you with the rationality of their choices. So if you offer a frustrated Eagle a cushy private school with a lower workload and cheap social distractions as an alternative to Acton, do not be surprised when he or she chooses it. Instead, consider a far less attractive school; removing internet privileges and a mandatory after-school job in construction or at a fast food restaurant. Then prepare to be surprised by the change in attitude.

I’m so happy to be traveling with you.

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On Being Led out the Door – Another Lesson from the Eagles

On Being Led out the Door – Another Lesson from the Eagles

Laura Sandefer

October 2, 2018

Iwas intimidated by her. I’m not sure why.But somehow her large frame, tightly groomed white hair, hand-knit sweaters and lack of eye contact with me triggered insecurities that lay deep within.

She was my four-year-old son’s Montessori teacher.

On his second day of school, I walked with him into the classroom to help him put his lunchbox away. She looked right at him and in a steady quiet voice said,

“Charlie. Please lead your mother out of the classroom.”

And he did.

This was my first encounter with what has been my toughest challenge as a parent: learning that my children are better off without me in their learning spaces – and many other spaces in their lives.

As a mom, I wrestled stubbornly with the transition from being my sons’ “everything” to being the person they had to lead out the door and close it quickly.

This lesson was brought to light again as I sat and read the Acton American-Statesman this morning over coffee.

This newspaper is owned, written, edited and published by our Acton Eagles. We never see what is written until it hits our “inbox.” I am merely a subscriber.

In today’s issue, Addie, a Launchpad Eagle and editor-in-chief, wrote a review on Clark Aldrich’s Unschooling Rules. In it she says:

“Children, however much you may love them, need to learn to be independent. Your high schooler does not want you at their party, or their sleepover or their dance… etc. Neither does your middle schooler. Your fourth and fifth graders probably don’t either. And babying your first, second and third graders won’t make them self-sufficient human beings who can discover and learn for themselves. By all means, spend time with your kid. Just don’t hover.”

Does this mean I shouldn’t hang around my boys’ poker nights? I think so.

Thank you, Addie, for reminding me yet again about the truth that is harder to grasp than I ever imagined. We must be brave enough to give our children their own space. Their own relationships. Their own lives.

None of this means our children don’t need us. They do. They need our love, our encouragement, our respect, our care, and our trust. By giving them space without micromanaging their details, we also give them much of what truly feeds them.

I am grateful for these teachers in my life even when the learning has been hard. If you want more lessons from the wise Eagles, subscribe to the Acton American Statesman. It may be the best newspaper out there for a jolt of the truth. Ping me to get the details: lsandefer@actonmail.org.

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