New Series: What Can Parents Do to Support Their Children’s Learning at Acton?

Laura Sandefer

January 22, 2018

Remember back to your six-year-old self.

The world was full of possibilities. You were a natural learner. Deeply curious. Maybe you even considered yourself a superhero.

What if you were right?

What if children can do far more than we ever imagined?

I have a distinct memory of jumping off a small cliff with an opened, black umbrella thinking I could fly like Mary Poppins. Even though I landed with a thud, my spirit wasn’t squashed. It was a few years later in the confines of a classroom that I learned to suppress such frivolous imaginings and listen to the teachers who told me what I could and could not do.

Education. Common Core. Student/teacher ratios. Control. Regurgitation. Oversight. Testing. Nineteenth-century solutions for a 21st-century world.

Perhaps this works for some. But only up to the point where we ask the question: What if children can do far more than we ever imagined?

Google shares information. Uber shares cars. Airbnb shares rooms. What if children could share learning with each other? In a tightly bound community? With high standards of excellence and access to the greatest teachers and information in the world?

This is the vision of Acton Academy. But it is more than a vision. It is a reality and we see it playing out daily. As I walk through our studios, I find myself shaking my head in wonder. I am awed by the grit, courage, intentional decision-making, clear insights and creative intelligence of the children in our midst. I also see the wonder of transformation taking root in these young lives

How can we as parents ensure we don’t get in the way of this wide open feeling of discovery, learning, and growth? How can we stoke the light in their eyes even if the world around them tries to tame it or even snuff it out? How can we support their growth when our own fears hold us back?

I have some ideas and will be sharing them with you over the next week in a series of posts here. Stay tuned.

(You may also find inspiration at our Open House on Thursday, February 1 at 6 pm, Acton Academy, 2201 Alexander Avenue, Austin, TX; or by reading our family’s journey to freeing our children in my book, Courage to Grow – How Acton Academy Turns Learning Upside Down available on Amazon.)

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Middle School is where young people rapidly start owning their education. Middle school is the perfect time to develop intellect and character while gaining a deeper sense of self and the real world. Students have a broad palette of topics to study and pair in-depth academic exploration with real-world connections to experts and local apprenticeships. Middle School is about deepening a passion for individual subjects while broadening your understanding of yourself and your future.