Eagle's Nest

Acton Academy's Eagles' Nest Studio is designed for ages 5-7 with transition to Elementary based on both academic readiness and social and executive development.

At Acton Academy Albuquerque, we believe young children are capable of learning necessary skills like reading and mathematical reasoning at their own pace and in their own way. We create an environment in which children are free to explore and play, allowing their own curiosity to be the spark that ignites learning. Along the way, they also develop vital character traits and social skills like kindness, empathy, honesty, critical thinking, the satisfaction of performing hard work, responsibility, and joy in learning. Inspired by Montessori principles and Socratic teaching methods, our Eagles' Nest is a holistic environment that aims to stimulate children's minds, spirits, and bodies as they figure out the world around them and their place in it.

Here are some of our key beliefs about learning that shape our approach:

  • Learning should be led by the child. Children are natural learners driven by their own interests to understand and know more about the world around them. When children are presented with an environment and materials that are stimulating to them, they will take their learning farther than we could ever force them to go. Our role is to observe children, take note of their passions and questions about the world, and then provide them with opportunities to explore these passions and questions further.
  • The space is key. An ideal learning environment includes natural light, order, and beauty. Our studio includes ever-changing spaces and activities based on what children express most interest in. Our studio will never be the same session to session or year to year because our Eaglets are not the same. Our studio is cared for by both children and adults together, giving children ownership of their space.
  • Children learn best through play, exploration, and lots of outside time. Contrary to the principles of traditional education, we know that young children do not learn best when stuck in a desk for eight hours a day. All of our activities are designed with play in mind. We spend lots of time outside, have two gym times weekly, go for walks, climb trees, plant gardens, practice yoga, and take every opportunity to learn through doing.
  • Adults guide, not teach. Our teachers are called guides for a reason. Guides offer materials and experiences and then follow children's lead in the direction learning takes. Guides do not bestow knowledge; they guide children in finding the answers to their own questions.

Badge System and Academic Goals

Reading

Our primary goal for reading and writing is to have Eaglets reading and writing things they are interested in and passionate about. Eaglets might practice their writing by creating signs for the studio, writing books, sending letters to classmates, or filling out a sales receipt during pretend play. Eaglets have chances to read during station work time and also during daily D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) times. Reading and writing are incorporated naturally into nearly everything we do.

Reading

We also focus on oral communication skills through daily Socratic discussions during studio meeting times. These discussions often focus on studio guidelines, character traits, and mindsets. During discussions, we practice stating our opinion, listening to others' opinions, asking good questions, giving valuable feedback, and generally communicating effectively. These are important skills for Eaglets to acquire before moving to the Elementary Studio, but they are also potent skills for life.

Reading

The Eagles Nest utilizes a badge system to inspire Eaglets to tackle challenges. Eaglets have the opportunity to earn badges in a variety of areas, all at their own pace. Some badges currently available include the following: Level 1 Math, Level 2 Math, Level 1 Literacy, Level 2 Literacy, Character-Building, and several "extra credit" badges like handwriting and quest-based badges.

A Day in the Eagles' Nest Studio

At the beginning of each day, Eaglets identify the challenges that they are most ready for and passionate about and make a play plan to help them tackle those challenges. After making their play plan, Eaglets move around to different learning stations where they can practice reading, write stories, manipulate math materials, work on computer programs like Lexia and Dreambox, build with legos, perform science experiments, create art, and other activities of their choice. The environment is carefully prepared with Montessori materials and various stations for Eaglets to explore and investigate.

In the afternoon, Eaglets are invited to participate in various quests. Quests vary based on the theme of each session and the passions of the Eaglets. Quests are game-based activities that integrating many different subject areas and allow Eaglets to delve deeply into topics that interest them. At the end of the project, students will have utilized their growing set of core skills to do something of value. This may be planning a party, opening a bookshop, creating a documentary, putting on a concert, planting a garden, or whatever else they dream up.

I have seen so much development in our son, just in the last few months - not just academically, but in the way he responds to adults and even his younger brother.  He is also more prone to figure things out on his own rather than coming to me or his mom for everything. We love Acton and love what we are seeing in our son!
Patrick B. — Parent