Updated: Apr 15
Friday, April 10, 2020
Depending on when your family started their quarantine, you’ve been home together for 6+ weeks now. This is an odd time that really has us appreciating the blessing of health and family, but that doesn’t magically make other concerns disappear. In fact, many families may be finding themselves head-on with anxieties we usually push aside due to busy schedules. Have you found yourself in this position?
If juggling schooling at home and parenting 24/7 has led you to consider new ways of connecting with your child, you’ve come to the right place. We were so thankful to Jeff and Laura Sandefer-- co-founders of the first Acton Academy in Austin, Texas-- for sharing some wisdom on Socratic Guiding in the home. Socratic Guiding is one of the core functions of learning design at Acton Academy North Broward, where we believe that asking the right question is as important as knowing the answer. Use the Sandefers’ 5 tips to socratic guiding as a parent to simulate these discussions in your home:
Be willing to embark on a worthy adventure. Truly believe your child is a genius who will go on to change the word, and cherish your time with them. When you remove your expectations, you allow your child the space to surprise you with who they are.
Set the contract. Set clear boundaries and identigy what your role as a socratic guide looks like- never ever answer a question (his is the tricky part). Offer choices and use growth-mindset praise in place of outcome-oriented praise. As a Socratic Guide, you must commit to give up on “fixing” and nagging. Be clear with your child that they have the freedom to call you on this, and be self-aware enough to handle this with grace.
Socratic Guides are game-makers; invite your child to play the game. Consider the following questions: What makes a game? What is the reward? How can I most clearly communicate the rules of the game?
i.e. Your car fanatic eight-year-old played with their hot wheels all afternoon and missed their daily reading. Consider: the game may offer a reward related to cars and the goal is to get them reading. The choices should be fairly balanced. “I know you are having fun playing with your cars, but you’ve not done any reading today and dinner will be ready in 45 minutes. Would you rather continue reading your book until then or find an article on car mechanics?”
Find a balance between being warm-hearted and a tough-minded coach. If you struggle with being tough-minded, consider that maintaining high expectations of your child is a form of love that will serve them long-term as opposed to swooping in and “fixing” an issue in the moment. Your child will respect your belief in their ability just as much as your warm-hearted support and love for them.
“Unpush your own buttons.” In a tough situation, give yourself the space to question what you are feeling (anxious, challenged, upset) and why. Have the courage to reflect on your feelings before acting upon them, possibly projecting those feelings onto those around you. You and your children will be so thankful.
In 2013, Laura also shared a “cheat sheet” for parents interested in having Socratic discussions at home. She writes, “The true purpose of a Socratic discussion is to come to new or deeper understandings of oneself, others and the world through an authentic wrestling with thoughts, information and ideas. And the real adventure is that you have no idea where you will end up.”
Until Next Time,
Lead Guide - Acton Academy North Broward