Can anyone be a leader? Is the title reserved for the famous or is there a leader within everyone of us? It can be said that extroverts tend to take the lead when it comes to group projects or those with interpersonal intelligence are able to stir up a crowd or team and lead them to victory. It takes the Martin Luther King Jr.’s and John Wooden’s of the world to rally the people and lead us toward greatness. But there is also a leader within every person. We are each gifted with particular talents that only we can give to the communities in which we live. Our personal journey toward the best versions of ourselves is the quest to discover the leader within. There is only one you who is on a journey to find that best version of yourself. Children will believe this if we point it out to them and help them to recognize how they are talented, capable, and uniquely gifted. Give your child opportunities to lead with their interests and abilities. Whatever our brain does a lot of, is what it gets good at. Therefore, providing opportunities to lead will create leaders.
Leadership is an accumulation of other strong habits. When we practice positive and productive intellectual and personal habits of mind, we grow the fruits of a healthy well being. I strongly believe that every child has leadership capacity in his/her own right. The unique gifts and talents brewing within can lead an industry, a sport, a mission, and a household. To educate (educe) or parent (bring forth), is to draw out those qualities and watch a child lead in his/her family, school, and community. When we discover our purpose and develop the skills and confidence to be really good at that purpose, we lead. Our nurturing and encouragement supports this quest and is alive in every child. The primary habits that make up leadership include two sets that we promote at AACA (TRRFC & 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Speak, write, and practice these with your children and we’ll watch them grow into great kids and great leaders!
TeRRiFiC Citizens are Trustworthy – Respectful – Responsible – Fair and Caring people who practice the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
Smart is not Just being best At spelling bees, A tricky test. Or knowing all the answers ever… Other things are just as clever. Every hour of every day, We’re smart in our own special way. And nobody will ever do… The very same smart thing as you.
You have probably heard of book smarts. Even street smarts and people smarts. But have you heard of nature smart? Or music smart? How about word smart?
At Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA), we believe that all kids are smart, born with their own unique set of gifts. Our job is to affirm, stretch and celebrate the unique gifts we are all given–from book smart to number smart and everything in between.
At the beginning of each school year, AACA teachers empower our K-8 students to uncover how they are smart. The goal is to help students shift the question away from “am I smart?” to “how am I smart?” We begin this work with self-reflection, a study of the brain and by diving into the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Self-Reflection & Self-Awareness
The journey of self-discovery at AACA is focused on a reflection of personal interests, strengths and personality traits. Our students spend time observing their own behavior and answering questions about things they enjoy doing, what comes easy, and what things are challenging. They work with their parents and teachers to identify strengths and struggles in all areas of their lives: heart, mind, body, and soul. In a student-led parent-teacher conference following this self-discovery period, students share what they’ve learned about themselves and challenge themselves to grow – or stretch – their skills. For example, a student may choose to learn to play an instrument, participate in the school play, or improve their reading fluency by learning 100 sight words.
Even in kindergarten, AACA teachers begin to explain how our brains work. We include the biology and mechanics of the brain. Our brains do so much for us – from recognizing objects, to problem-solving, to processing emotions. Understanding this from a young age can help demystify learning and everyday habits we never think about like breathing and digestion. Knowledge is power when it comes to ownership for our bodies, our actions and our lives.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Our work at AACA is deeply based on Harvard professor Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences explains the different ways we learn and express our innate intelligence. We explore ways that we can learn new concepts, paying attention to which type comes most naturally to us and which types are more challenging. No person has just a single intelligence—we are a beautiful combination of all the different ways to learn.
Here are a couple of examples of the multiple intelligences in action:
Someone who has strong interpersonal skills may learn best when working with a partner or team.
A person with strong linguistic skills may be a word-smith or skilled at picking up new languages.
Someone with strong kinesthetic abilities may learn sight words better if they do jumping jacks while they spell words out loud.
This philosophy is so important to us that we’ve even installed the 8 symbols in the courtyard of our new building. It’s also tied in with our mascot and kite philosophy. Affirming, stretching and celebrating our smarts is a huge part of who we are.
Boosting Knowledge & Confidence
AACA teachers use this new-found knowledge to boost student’s self-worth and confidence. Teachers incorporate the different ways of learning into lessons, being sure to vary the way new information is presented for all types of learners. We look for ways to draw out individual talents and recognize students for their unique contributions, while not ignoring areas that may need more nurturing and stretching.
Understanding ourselves also helps understand others. When our students uncover all the ways they are smart, we notice an increase in empathy toward classmates. Everyone is smart in their own way!
AACA celebrates all the ways we are smart. We believe our individual intelligences are gifts that bring color to our world and teach us that we can accomplish so much together. How are you smart?
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!
It just takes an ounce of courage to be a better version of ourselves and live life more fully. Courage is that extra step just outside of comfort that leads us to a more fulfilling life and unexpected victories. Courage builds character, stretches capacity, and changes lives. Expressing confidence in our children and helping them to understand that risk and failure are essential to success motivates personal development and defeats fear.
Look for opportunities to celebrate courage. Spotlight characters from books and movies who act courageously. Most importantly, affirm your child when he/she uses an ounce of courage and chooses to do the next right thing even when it is scary. The American spirit has always relied on courageous thinkers, adventurers, and entrepreneurs. Our children are the next generation of great Americans as long as we encourage them. As the Duke (John Wayne) used to say, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”
Help Your Child Develop Courage
Help your child develop a courageous character by practicing the following ideas:
Heart – respectfully introduce yourself to a new acquaintance.
Mind – attempt a more difficult book or math problem.
Body – try a new sport or hobby.
Soul – discuss dreams and aspirations about the future and what courageous acts it takes to achieve those dreams!
“Trust the still, small voice that says, ‘this might work and I’ll try it.’” – Diane Mariechild
Doing the next right thing is simply an act of courage. One of the most successful parenting questions I have asked my children has been, “What is the next right thing to do?” In almost every case my child knew the answer and acted accordingly. If there was uncertainty, I simply asked another question to guide the child toward actions that promote integrity and citizenship. If discipline is really about learning, then asking meaningful questions is a powerful tactic. The more our children come up with the answers on their own, the greater the thinking power we discipline into them. The next time you want to give your child an answer, stop and ask them the question instead.
Caring is the constant time and energy we put into our relationships, self, and stuff. Ultimately, our care expresses our love and develops the deep relationships we share. As we remind ourselves and our children what caring is, make it simple. Help them to see that the littlest gestures, the frequent efforts, the constant affirmations – these are the caring episodes of life that make a difference and provide the life and love that nurtures gratitude in our hearts and willingness in our days to reach out to make our home, school, and community a more pleasant place to live.
Heart – reach out to a friend with a smile and a helping hand.
Mind – spend extra time practicing academic skills.
Body – give/get 8 hugs a day!
Soul – think about the talents you share with others.
“A caring person in your life is like a heartbeat. A heartbeat isn’t visible, but silently supports your life.” – Unknown Author
“Some people care too much; I think it’s called love.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
Fair ball, fair catch, it’s in the fairway. Playing fair is a pretty easy concept when it comes to sports and now that we have instant replay, it assures it. Playing fair is pretty clear and expected on the field. Ironically, the game of life is, all too often, not so fair. How do we help our children understand that we should fight for fairness, but learn to productively cope with the inequities and injustices that challenge our days?
Rutgers professor, Elizabeth Tricomi, PhD., studied the concept of fairness and discovered that it is something hardwired in our brains and an expectation by the youngest of children. Moreover, we tend to have an inherent desire to see the underdog win and the playing field equalized. Helping our children to be fair and promote justice is a daily trial for parenting and educating children. One of my favorite simple parenting principles is to be “firm, fair, & friendly” when our wits are at an end. When we take a deep breath, gather our wits, and speak with truth and love, our children will learn to do the same.
Here are a few phrases that we can teach our kids to help them use intelligent remarks instead of hurtful ones:
“Tell not yell.”
“Be mad, but not mean.”
“Be helpful, not hateful.”
Blame and shame words v. Playing fair words
Liar! v. I heard you say something different before.
You cheated! v. I don’t think that’s how this game is played. The rule is…
You’re a tattle tale! v. I wish you would tell me first when you don’t like something I did.
Move over! v. I don’t have enough room. Could you move?
You’re not the boss of me! v. I don’t like it when you give me orders.
You’re not my friend anymore! v. I don’t like what you said about me. It hurt me.
You’re so mean! v. Stop teasing me. I don’t like it.
“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.” – Dennis Wholey
“Fair doesn’t mean giving every child the same thing, it means giving every child what they need to succeed”. – Rick Lavoie