Developing self-awareness from having tried a number of things and the self-confidence from actually having pulled through doing hard things that mattered!
This means at time that life can be messy at Acton, it can be messy in the studio, it can be hard on parents and guides to see the learners struggling through real issues. We always encourage our parents to sit back and give issues room to breath and for the heroes to work through these issues themselves. That said, we aren't asking parents to be passive, they can still be an active participant in their child's Acton journey, it just looks different at Acton than it might in a traditional school setting.
No doubt, as a parent at Acton Academy, you have embarked on a hero’s journey (whether you are ready for it or not!). Below are answers, testimony and tips we’ve gathered from Acton Academy parents from all over the world to equip and inspire you on your Hero’s Journey as a parent:
What should I do as a parent if my hero has an issue?
In a learner driven community, run by developing heroes, this is sure to occur. One of the overarching goals for these young heroes is to empower them to solve their own problems, and see themselves as heroes of their lives, not victims of their circumstances.
So when an issue occurs in the studio we typically ask a few questions, which help us determine what actions to take:
We find that oftentimes problems in the studio bother us as parents or guides, but don’t really bother the heroes.
Sometimes, however, it is a real problem for the heroes, which creates a great opportunity for them to learn to do something, and forge character in the process. As parents, we can encourage our hero to pick up a tool in the studio, and solve their own problems.
In this scenario, here are a few questions to help them recognize what tools they have, and empower them to solve the problem:
What if my hero is unhappy?
Our promise is to equip and inspire your child to find a calling that will change the world. Struggles and difficulties are part of the journey.
Instead of focusing on short term happiness, Acton Academy focuses on long term satisfaction and fulfillment. Overcoming short term challenges is often a part of that journey.
As parents, we’ve found our heroes grow most when we comfort them and listen empathically, but do not try to solve the problem ourselves or allow blame to be cast on others. “I hear you. That must be so hard. I trust you to find a way to solve this on your own and can’t wait to hear how you did it” seem to be the most powerful words we can use as parents.
If your goal is to have a child who is happy all the time, Acton Academy may not be the right place for you.
What if my hero is facing a problem that makes me especially anxious?
Our heroes take extremely difficult situations in stride every day. They are more resilient than we might be able to expect. Most of our hearts would break if we knew the challenges heroes quietly and bravely overcome.
It can be hard to watch our children face challenges, but heroic parents must look to the long term value of challenges to determine if they must interject. I was recently talking with another owner who said that one of their parent nights led to a wonderful belief that struggles and challenges are valuable if they are in pursuit of a worthy goal or outcome. Sometimes stepping back is the best choice we can make.
We also find that many challenges make us anxious because they touch on something we’ve experienced in our past or experience today.
So if a situation makes you particularly angry or anxious, before reacting ask: “Is this more about me or my hero?”
Why can’t you force my hero to ____________ ?
Many of us wish our hero would spend more time on handwriting or spelling or Math, and when s/he doesn’t, fall into the mindset that the learning community or school should require the behavior.
Unfortunately, deep and lasting learning doesn’t work this way. Someone has to want to learn, if deep learning is to occur.
We’ve found that Growth Mindset language and praise – and most of all patience – work better than criticism. Additionally, the systems at Acton Academy reward hard work and growth by rewarding effort (Weekly Points), excellent work (Badges) and leadership (360 Degree Feedback) with more freedom, which encourages growth and learning through choice. All of these things will be introduced with time in our studio, when the learners are ready and asking for them.
What if my hero simply refuses to work hard?
This is a difficult question, because human motivation remains one of the great unsolved mysteries.
Our studio systems, modeled after companies like Google and Amazon, are designed to reward effort, excellent work and leadership with more freedom, and to reduce freedom for lack of effort, excellence, and leadership.
There are three primary reasons a hero struggles to work hard in the studio. These real world obstacles are a core piece of the learning and development at Acton Academy. Most of us face these same struggles each day:
More important than measurements on a hero’s journey are the questions a parent asks a child every day. Here are a list of powerful questions we can ask our young heroes to prepare them with the character to embark on a hero’s journey:
Questions that seek understanding:
"What's the best thing that happened today?"
"What's the most challenging thing that happened today?"
"What did you discuss at launch this morning?"
"Did you learn anything new about yourself or your calling today?"
Asking "Why?" Listening, then asking again. Variation: "Why do you think...?"
What did you fail at today?
Questions that discover and reinforce heroic character:
What did you do that was hard today?
What did you do that was kind today?
What did you do that was [character trait] today?
What did someone do to you that was [character trait] today?
Questions that follow up on challenges or goals:
"What goals did you set today?"
"Did you submit that town hall request today?"
"Did you ask [name] to go the the peace table today?"
"Did you ask someone for a hero buck today?"
"Did someone ask you for a hero buck today?"
Likely a lot of opportunity to follow up with encouragement, trust, and relatable personal stories with these questions.