Habit 1: Be Proactive

Don’t wait for your ship to come, swim out to it.

Cathy Hopkins

Habit 1 of Almond Acres Charter Academy’s study of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is Be Proactive. The premise of this habit is that we have the power to tell our brains what to do! It is such a simple concept and frankly, simple to do. Feeding our thoughts with positive and productive ideas nourishes our lives with happiness and success. Thinking about doing something is the first step. Taking the next step and telling our brains to do it, is the action. Actions lead to habits, habits lead to character, and character leads to destiny.

Students who practice proactive behavior are able to ignore distractions, prioritize tasks, complete class assignments, and plan ahead. Academic, athletic, artistic, or any other intelligence will grow by focusing on the circle of influence and minimizing time and effort on areas of concern or distraction.

An Almond Acres Charter Academy student wearing a green uniform polo puts the final cup on a pyramid he made out of paper cups. He is very focused on the task.

Trying v. Doing

There are so many occasions in life when the word “try” is incomplete and only reactive. I think that “try” is a half-baked idea. Most of the time trying is short sighted–doing is what gets it done! 
The next time you congratulate your child for an accomplishment and he tells you, “Thank you, I tried my best,” remind him that he didn’t just try – HE DID IT! If he says, “I’ll try,” instead encourage “I will”. Trying insinuates that we may have given our best effort, when in fact, when we accomplish things, we did give our best effort. Proactively telling ourselves to do it is power and causes great actions.

Reactive language v. Proactive language

  • I’ll try    vs.     I’ll do it!
  • That’s just the way I am.   vs.    I can do Better than that!
  • There’s nothing I can do.    vs.   There is something I can do!
  • I have to.    vs.    I get to!
  • I can’t.     vs.    There’s got to be a way!
  • You ruined my day.    vs.    I’m not going to let your bad mood rub off on me.
Almond Acres students work together to put playground equipment into a mesh bag.

Being proactive also helps us to take responsibility for our actions and to accept responsibility for our choices. Proactive citizens don’t blame others, they challenge them and step up and as change agents in families, schools, and community. Encourage this habit this week with the following efforts:

  • 🔵 Heart – reach out to a family member or friend who may need some encouragement
  • 🟡 Mind – search for an answer to an unanswered question
  • 🔴 Body – shop for foods that will support a healthy brain
  • 🟢 Soul – take 5 minutes to enter the classroom of silence

Being proactive is stepping up to life instead of letting it step on you. Like every habit, it takes 3-20 times to turn it into a habit. At Almond Acres, we teach our students to be patient, persistent, and positively proactive. We think it pays dividends.

“Have a can-do-titude.”

Mr. B

Learning Links

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!

Be Proactive – Take a Knee

Proactive parenting is a positive approach to nurturing the best versions of our kids. Reactive parenting causes our kids to retreat and fear failure. How we respond to the ups and downs of everyday parenting may be the most critical element of successful parenting. With patient, persistent, and positive guidance our children will trust that the directions and correction we give will guide them to happier and more successful lives. Consider the formula of E + R = O.  An event plus our response will create an outcome. When our responses are negative to negative events, the outcome is only going to be more negative. Do the math:
-2 + -2 = -4
-2 + 0 = -2
-2 + 2 = 0
-2 + 4 = 2
The trick to this math is to pause between the event (E) and your response (R). Using the “paus-itivity button” can help us to create a proactive response instead of a reactive one. I encourage you to pause when you are peeved and listen with understanding and empathy. Take a knee! I used this example with the kids this morning at Shared Start. When a player is injured on the field we take a knee and pause while the player gets back on their feet. Then we applaud their courage to play on. It also means to get down to their eye level and express understanding and empathy. Listening with understanding and empathy is a part of our emotional intelligence (EQ). Did you know that our EQ has a much more profound effect on success than our IQ? It is reported that 85% of success can be attributed to our human relationship skills versus 15% due to our technical knowledge.
In other words, how we speak to our children has a much more profound effect on parenting than what we speak to our children. Whether the goal is to get out the door in the morning, finishing a meal, sharing with a sibling, or getting ready for bed, our willingness and ability to listen carefully will determine how well we maintain our composure and how cooperative our children will act. Empathy is a powerful tool in any relationship. Using our two ears and one mouth proportionally, will always improve relationships.

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother (or father), and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill
“If you judge people, you have not time to love them.” – Mother Teresa
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” – Jesse Jackson
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Developmental Asset #2 – Positive Family Communication

Tips for building this asset (Positive Communication) also means listening to a young person’s perspective, not to advocate your position. Be available when young people need you—and even when they think they don’t. Take good care of yourself so when your children want to talk, you can give them your full attention. Also try these In your home and family:

Make it easy for your child to spend time talking with you. Keep an extra stool or chair in the kitchen, den, home office, or workshop area. When you’re in the car together is a great time to chat, too.In your neighborhood and community: Ask young people you know caring questions, such as: What was the best thing about school today? What was the best act in the talent show? Why? Listen to their answers and respond accordingly. In your school or youth program: During parent meetings, discuss the importance of positive communication between parents and children.

Be Proactive

Over the past 5 weeks we re-minded ourselves of the five character traits that make us TeRiFFC citizens (trust, respect, responsible, fair, and caring). This week we begin the development of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. These habits help us to be and become leaders. The first habit is Be Proactive. (Ask your child about the hand signal for being proactive.) The premise of the habit is that we have the power to tell our brains what to do! It is such a simple concept, and frankly, simple to do. Feeding our thoughts with positive and productive ideas nourishes our lives with happiness and success. Thinking about doing something is the first step. Taking the next step and telling our brains to do it is the action. Actions lead to habits, habits to character, and character to destiny.
 
Trying v. Doing
There are so many occasions in life when the word “try” is incomplete and reactive. I think that it’s a half-baked idea. Trying is short sighted, but doing gets it done! The next time you congratulate your child for an accomplishment and they tell you, “Thank you, I tried my best,” remind them that they didn’t just try – THEY DID IT! Encourage them to say “I will” rather than “I’ll try”. Trying insinuates that we may have given our best effort. In fact, when we accomplish things, we did give our best effort. Proactively telling ourselves to do it is powerful and causes great actions.
 
Reactive language v. Proactive language
  • I’ll try. v. I’ll do it!
  • That’s just the way I am. v. I can do better than that!
  • There’s nothing I can do. v. There is something I can do!
  • I have to. v. I choose to!
  • I can’t. v. There’s got to be a way!
  • You ruined my day. v. I’m not going to let your bad mood rub off on me.
 
Being proactive also helps us to take responsibility for our actions and our choices. Proactive citizens don’t blame others, they challenge them and step up as change agents in families, schools, and communities. Encourage this habit this week with the following efforts:
Heart – reach out to a family member or friend who may need some encouragement.
  • Mind – search for an answer to an unanswered question.
  • Body – shop for foods that will support a healthy brain.
  • Soul – take 5 minutes to enter the classroom of silence.
  • “I am in charge of how I feel, and today I will choose to be happy and successful.”
 
“Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it”. – Cathy Hopkins
 
“Have a can-do-titude” – Mr. B
 
Learning Links

Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind

It may be the start of the school year, but our minds are at the end of the year at Almond Acres. The fresh, new school year is the perfect time to look to the future and make plans to grow towards our goals and dreams. 

Habit #2: Begin With the End in Mind is a natural fit for the start of the school year. Dr. Franklin Covey defines this habit as “beginning each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continuing by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.”

What does this look like at Almond Acres? Well, it starts with envisioning our future. We spend time identifying our goals and dreams and then make a plan to get there. We proactively determine where we want our actions to lead us, instead of waiting for someone else to guide our future. We also talk about obstacles that may get in the path of our dreams and how to safely get around such challenges.

An Almond Acres Charter Academy student focuses on a pyramid of cups that he has built. Other students nearby are watching.

Guiding Principles

A successful future is not only built on planning and dreams, but also a foundation of strong character. At Almond Acres, we incorporate a focus on the five TeRRiFiC citizenship traits: trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair and caring. 

Likely, your hopes and dreams for your child involve integrity and strong character, as well. Success and happiness stands on a foundation of strong character. We help to lay that foundation throughout a child’s entire K-8 experience at AACA. It is not a one-and-done lesson, rather a years-long journey to growing great kids. When our lives are grounded on sound principles, our actions can guide us toward a happier and more successful life.

There is an old saying that “living without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” A captain with a hand on the rudder guides a ship to its destination. Without a rudder directed by our principles, we can easily stray from our course. Guided by the end in mind and strengthened with the power of positive principles, each and every child can achieve the success they seek and deserve.

Develop a Mission Statement

One of the best ways to incorporate Habit #2 into your life is to develop a personal or family mission statement. A mission statement is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement makes you the leader of your own life and can help you keep focused especially when days are difficult. Together with your family, decide upon your guiding principles and dreams for the future and then write it down! Hang it somewhere your whole family can see regularly. 

How have you helped your family begin with the end in mind this school year? Have you set goals for the future? Dinner is a fabulous time to talk with your child about Habit #2 and how to begin with the end in mind.

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids! 

Beating the Back-to-School Jitters

Are you beginning to feel the Back-to-School jitters? If so, you’re not alone! Everyone feels a little nervous about a new school year and a new adventure – students, parents and even teachers! We invited resident teaching and parenting expert Amy Brabenec to walk us through how to prepare for the first day of school and reduce our jitters to maybe just some gentle butterflies. 

An Almond Acres student in red uniform polo smiles while showing the inside of a book he is reading.

Take it away, Amy:

I am almost as excited for this school year as I was the very first year we opened! It feels like a fresh start with endless possibilities for creating our best school year yet! Here are some practical things to discuss and practice before school starts. 

You are safe! 

Teachers (all adults at school are teachers in some capacity!) have two jobs: keeping your students safe and learning. They take both jobs very seriously!

Meals

Some students are not used to making decisions about what to eat when, so they try to eat everything in their lunchbox during the morning snack time, leaving little to no food for lunch. That makes for a hungry afternoon! It’s worth a conversation ahead of time and maybe a practice run or two. 

Packaging and Containers 

Practice opening food packaging, juice pouches, and containers. I wish someone had suggested this to me when my children were little. I sent my son to school with containers he couldn’t open without making a giant mess, and I didn’t include any utensils! Did I think those would magically appear? Did I think the adults could open every child’s container for them? I don’t know. I’m just grateful his teachers were kind and non-judgmental when they explained what was happening! 

Lost & Found

Label everything with your child’s name. Label every little thing. 

Listening and Following Directions Fast, the First Time

Do your children stop and give you their attention when you say their name? When you give instructions, can they stop and do what you asked? For safety and scheduling reasons, we need students to respond to calls to attention and follow instructions. It takes practice, so make it fun. Try to beat yesterday’s record of how many times your child looked at you when you said their name, or track how fast they followed directions. 

Shoes 

If your child does not know how to tie shoes, consider whether they have the fine motor skills to learn right now. If so, teach them! If not, consider shoes without laces for school. 

Launch Pad

Consider a box or designated area as a launch pad for each child. The launch pad is where they will put everything they need for the next day. You could add a photo of the items or a written list to remind your child what they need!

Always Watching & Listening

We sometimes think our children are too busy playing to overhear our conversations. They pick up on more than we think. So, to prepare your child for school, consider how they might feel if they know you are sad because you will miss them while they are at school, or you are worried about how other students will treat them, etc. A child may think, “If my parents are sad or anxious, maybe I should be, too!” That isn’t to say we should be fake; our kiddos see right through that, too. But, we can be mindful of our impact.

Dropping Off

I was the parent who hung out too long. If my daughter cried at drop off, I held her and sometimes I cried, too. I felt awful leaving her upset, and the guilt was crushing. Her teachers would tell me that “She’s just fine as soon as you leave!” That would drive me crazy and hurt my feelings. Fast forward to becoming a kindergarten teacher who would be in family counseling soon after. Sure enough, the students who had a hard time leaving their parents were just fine within a minute or two after the parents departed. Lingering only made things worse. Our daughter struggled with anxiety and had very few coping skills as she got older because I tried to rescue her out of ever being uncomfortable. I share this because if I could do it all again, I absolutely would. I would tell her I love her and I’ll see her later, and I’d leave her in the capable, caring hands of her teachers. The unspoken message is, “I love you. You are safe. I feel good about you being here. You got this!”

Grand Opening & Meet the Staff

The week before school starts we have our Grand Opening & Meet the Staff event. It’s a fun, informal way to meet your teachers before the first day of school, which can help with some of those new-school-year jitters! It’s also a great time to meet other families. See ParentSquare for more details!

All That in a Nutshell

  • The AACA staff are excited about our upcoming school year, and we are committed to making it a great experience for ALL students!
  • Productive struggle is important in learning, so let your child work through wrestling a granola bar wrapper or having big feelings. You can give some pointers, but let them practice and celebrate their independence. 
  • Practice now is freedom later. If we practice the routines we need for each day, we build productive habits. Our brains are then free to focus on learning and building relationships at school!

About AACA

Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Located in Paso Robles in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility, AACA is open to all students from all communities. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!