Year 3, Week #5 and Owning the Rules

Children at Acton don’t receive a list of predetermined rules to follow at the beginning of a school year.
.   The Session One Exhibition opened with a haka!

Since we want them to hold themselves to a high standard, we push it to them to select and create the standards themselves. “What promises do you need to make to each other so that you have a fun and successful time here?” We do this through a several weeks-long wrestling that we call The Contract Game. Ideas for promises are put into a box, drawn, and discussed one at a time. The children listen to each other, then say why they agree or disagree with the person who spoke before them. Ultimately, each idea is put to a vote to try out. After everyone gets some experience with the promise, they vote again to decide whether to put it into the final version--the contract for everyone to sign.

.                 Signing the final list of promises (AKA contract) in front of parents.

Some of the promises this year are the same as last year:
I promise to do the schedule so that my studio mates can count on me.
I promise to celebrate our different choices and beliefs.
I promise to take care of myself when I get angry.
Some of the promises this year are completely new:
I promise to proactively encourage my studio mates to clean up and be on time.
I promise to use my brain, ask a buddy, and look up what I need to know before asking a Guide.

Last week at our Session 1 Exhibition, Elementary Learners read the final list aloud, in front of their parents, and ceremoniously signed it. Now it’s framed on the wall and referred to often.

.          At the Exhibition, learners also took their parents on a tour of their self-                     paced work in Core Skills (reading, writing, math).

At Acton, we believe in a heavy investment of time and resources during the first few weeks of each school year so that this foundation can be laid.  As a result, learners have ownership over the standards and are passionate about upholding them with each other throughout the year.
Have you ever been trusted to do something important? It’s empowering!
One of our parents summed it up well:
“I would highly recommend Acton. Learners being able to be in charge of their learning can seem a little unnerving at the beginning for both the parent and child but my son has quickly learned what needs to be done and notices when he needs to put in a little more effort in his learning. He has become much more independent and puts more thought into his choices and is better at solving problems after a year at Acton. We love the changes we are seeing!”
Molly Franklin Lucia, M.Ed.
Head of School
Want your child to be in a school environment that equips them to care deeply about their obligations to themselves and others? Schedule a tour or just give us a call (214-868-6686). Your children will thank you.

More photos from last week.