Welcome to another great year at Mission Academy! Our goal is to work with parents to equip young people to be independent in their learning and take charge of their decisions and relationships. Partnering with parents to create a nurturing environment where children can practice and learn these valuable life skills is vital to our signature learning experience.
So below, we’ve included answers to frequently asked questions from previous and current parents and fellow educators to equip and assist you in the coming year!
1. Steps to take if my Scholar is facing a problem in the Studio.
We aim to equip Scholars to solve problems independently.
Tips to foster that independence include:
Start by asking your Scholar for permission before becoming involved. Simply saying, “Do you need help to solve this?” shows them that you trust them to solve their problems independently. While this may be more challenging with younger learners, it is always worth trying. The earlier we can instill confidence in their problem-solving abilities, the better! Next, have your Scholar reflect on the problem and brainstorm possible solutions. Finally, help your Scholar frame the issue in a positive light and ask them what they can learn or gain from this situation?
Resist the temptation to email their Guide unless it is a major issue needing to be immediately addressed. You can make a Guide aware of a problem but keep the focus on your child solving the problem independently. There are at least two sides to every story. So before jumping to conclusions based on your child’s words, ask questions to understand better.
2. I don’t want my Scholar to be unhappy; can’t I just fix the problem?
Happiness is an elusive goal, and chasing happiness is often fruitless. Instead, happiness comes from being self-confident and self-reliant, appreciating what you have and those around you, and accepting and learning from life’s challenges, not immediate satisfaction.
At Mission Academy, our focus is on long-term satisfaction and fulfillment rather than momentary happiness.
Our job as parents and Guides is to equip and inspire Scholars with skills that enable them to interact with the world successfully. However, struggles and difficulties are part of the journey.
As parents, we’ve found our Scholars grow most when we provide support and listen empathically. Likewise, our children thrive when we avoid solving their problems and avoid blaming others.
Language examples you can use include:
“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.”
“How do you think you can solve this?”
“I can see you are frustrated. So let’s brainstorm some possible solutions together.”
3. What if my Scholar faces a problem that makes me anxious or upset?
Life involves learning how to navigate complex and even uncomfortable situations. Sometimes our children will face obstacles that make us want to jump in and save them. However, children learn best when they are involved in the problem-solving process.
Think back to your childhood and adolescence; there were probably many problems you faced with only the support of your peers or on your own without parental involvement. But, most likely, you made it out OK, and picked up some valuable life lessons along the way.
Typically events that cause parental anxiety often reflect an unresolved issue we faced in childhood. However, once our Scholar senses our concern, they may consciously or unconsciously return to the topic because it brings attention and comfort.
If you notice feelings of anger or anxiety before reacting, ask yourself: “Is this more about me or my child?” It may be possible that a situation causing you anxiety is not affecting your child nearly as much. When in doubt, you can simply say to your child, “How do you feel about “X”?” or “I am always here to listen if you need to talk.”
4. Can’t you just make my Scholar?
Sometimes we want our Scholars to spend more time on a specific learning activity or task and wish their educational community could enforce that desire.
Unfortunately, someone has to want to learn for deep learning to occur. Organic, intrinsic motivation works best.
Therefore, we use Growth Mindset language and praise to achieve results. While some children might need the occasional extrinsic motivator, real motivation comes from within.
5. What if my Scholar simply refuses to work hard?
This is a difficult question because human motivation is mysterious at times. However, even if your Scholar struggles to work hard or find motivation, there might be an underlying reason.
Common Culprits include:
Distraction: Is your Scholar easily drawn into social media, games, web surfing, or other types of electronic distraction?
You may need to limit access to these distractions. While extrinsic rewards have limits, they might be helpful in some situations.
Spend less time on your phone or computer in front of your child. Set a good example!
Resistance: Is your Scholar resisting for a reason? Are there changes or conflicts at home that are affecting their behavior? Is there an undiagnosed learning challenge your child needs assistance with?
Studies have shown that neurodivergent children with ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, and Processing disorders are more likely to act out in school when not adequately accommodated.
The Victim: Often, Scholars gain attention and solace by playing the part of the victim. Children quickly learn whether or not they have parents who respond to this role. Think of the child who falls on the playground but doesn’t start crying until they see mom or dad looking. While the victim role is not done with malicious intent, it is a learned behavior; a child who has learned they receive attention for playing the role is likely to continue.
Our studio systems reward effort, excellent work, and leadership. Our goal is to discover what makes your Scholar tick and create a spark of joy for knowledge.
If your Scholar is still struggling, we tailor rewards and praise for individual needs and always provide opportunities to start over!
6. What are “natural consequences,” and how do they help my Scholar learn?
A natural consequence occurs as a result of someone’s actions. For example, a driver isn’t paying attention, runs a red light, and causes an accident. The accident is the consequence of them not being a careful driver.
Natural consequences are one of the best learning tools we as educators and parents have because they occur daily and in real life.
A Scholar who fails to turn in their work may receive low marks.
A child who draws on the wall should help clean it and take responsibility for their mistake.
A Scholar who continuously disrupts the studio by acting out may be asked to leave the studio.
A child who doesn’t clean their room when asked may be late to their friend’s birthday party if they run out of time.
A child who runs inside the house and slips and falls learn that the behavior is not safe because they can become hurt.
Natural consequences are more effective, usually than forced consequences, because they relate directly to the person’s actions. For example, telling a child, “You won’t get TV time if you don’t finish your dinner,” doesn’t make sense to them and can create unhealthy habits and confusion.
However, saying, “I hear you when you say you don’t want chicken for dinner, but this is what I made, and if you don’t eat, I think you’ll be hungry later. So I will not force you to eat it, but I am saving it, so if you are hungry later, this is what I’ll serve you;” this is related and makes sense to a child.
7. What if I have questions or concerns about a situation?
We invite parents to pose questions and concerns to us and encourage an open-door policy. We may not always be able to guarantee an immediate solution or the exact resolution you prefer, but we are always willing to listen and share an open dialogue.
Our goal is to make parents and Scholars comfortable and create successful learners who are independent and able to think outside the box when problem-solving.
We ask that you maintain a positive and supportive attitude in front of your Scholar even if you have concerns or questions about Mission Academy or your child’s Guide. A united front and displaying trust in your Scholar’s Guide will give them the confidence to succeed!
8. How can I best support my Scholar while attending Mission Academy?
To best support your scholar, allow them to work on and solve problems independently. Use supportive language and fact-based statements demonstrating trust in their abilities; avoid assumptions or coloring situations. For example, “I see how hard you are working on this problem, and I am proud of you.” Engage in active listening and ask them open-ended questions that promote thinking and problem-solving.
You should always maintain open and honest lines of communication with your Scholar’s Guide; remember, we’re here to work with you as a team! Have your Scholar take ownership of their mistakes; mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow. To do this, avoid blaming others and focus on their role in the situation.
Lastly, encourage them to focus on the process of learning, not the finished product. Children learn best through hands-on engagement and a natural desire to want to know more.
I hope you enjoyed what we’ve learned together and look forward to many more adventures!