What and Why We Teach: Daily Growth, Balanced Learning

At Almond Acres Charter Academy, we believe an education that addresses all aspects of a child’s life creates balanced, happy learners.  In fact, our scholastic mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. This mission is embedded in our academic DNA and informs how we grow together every school day. It truly sets us apart from other K-8 learning environments.  

children standing against a wall

Our team of credentialed teachers uses the Common Core State Standards to teach English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, while using the State Content Standards for social studies, and the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) for science.  Teachers also administer state-mandated testing annually in grades 3-8. We incorporate our additional, beloved (by students and families alike) complementary instruction across all K-8 grade levels because we see how and why this enables high quality, intentional, gratifying educational experiences.

What is complementary instruction? 

We’re glad you asked! For us, complementary education includes physical education, art, drama, leadership, character education, and service-based learning. Here’s a sample of what we mean and why we believe in this complementary instruction for all of our learners  — from our youngest kinders to our big kid middle schoolers — as they study and grow:

Character Education

Character Education is a main focus that is promoted through a schoolwide Daily Shared Start Assembly. We practice being good citizens by being trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, and caring, which are the core tenets of Character Counts. We promote this through our PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) System.

Service Learning

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a key component of our instructional program. We  integrate PBS across all subject areas and in all grades whenever possible. Our PBL enriches student knowledge by utilizing themes, unit-based queries and a variety of hands-on methods. Our innovative PBL efforts also enhance community connections via field trips, guest speakers, and our highly rewarding service-based projects.

youth theater production

Leadership

At our K-8 charter school, we focus on being leaders by being good citizens and using the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to develop important life skills. All students have leadership opportunities within their classrooms based on their grade level. Middle School students have the option of participating in a weekly Leadership Class. These students help lead many aspects of school including, Shared Start, recess and lunchtime activities, schoolwide contests, and fundraisers. All middle school students also participate in a pathways course, which helps them further apply the habits, refine their problem solving and decision-making skills, as well as develop college and career readiness skills.

For more detail about our top-notch Common Core State Standards classes and other complementary instruction visit our Curriculum page.

We love meeting new families. Contact us to schedule a virtual tour of Almond Acres and have all of your questions answered 1:1. Open enrollment is happening now January 15 – March 15!

About Almond Acres

Almond Acres is relocating to Paso Robles. 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. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. 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!

Fly Your Kite!

Bob Bourgault, Executive Director, at Almond Acres Charter Academy has invented a philosophical approach to raise the level of consciousness of self (and others) as we all journey on the quest to becoming the best version of ourselves. His model, used in all grades in AACA, is aimed at kids and for use in classroom and childhood environments, but also has specifics for teens and adults, and has been presented to businesses and organizations, too. 

The model is represented visually as a kite — with four quadrants and four colors, each representing a different aspect of our intelligences, temperament, personality and learning modalities. We are all a combination of learner and one who is learning.

learning learner hands diagram

Bob believes every one of us is smart, beautiful, spiritual and talented. And this kite model helps us understand our unique abilities, learning styles, and existence —  even further. 

What is a kite? 

It is a simple system for children to categorize their innate disposition using colors, visuals, and words to help students recognize what kind of learner they are, and how they can use their unique set of intelligences to influence the world. While there are many personality tests for adults, such as Meyers Briggs or Enneagram, Bob’s system is unique because it is designed specifically for children, and adapted for teens and adults.

What are my strengths and struggles? 

Every school year each K-8 student at Almond Acres creates their kite: a visual representation of their individual strengths and struggles in heart, mind, body, and soul. These four unique sets of intelligences are represented by four quadrants and with four colors on each individual’s kite — red, blue, green and yellow. 

The question a child typically asks first is drawn from his/her personal temperament. There is a desire to seek answers that satisfy our inner curiosity. For example, a child with a strong blue kite has a dominant interpersonal intelligence and will likely be drawn to the ‘who’ question. A green kite thinks more intra-personally and asks why. The red thinker wants to know where and how because he/she is more hands-on and visually smart. The yellow kite considers logistics of a question and asks what and when. If we follow the natural questioning path that a child travels, we are likely to lead him/her straight to the correct answers.

It’s the difference between being given a toy car and given a model to build a toy car. And with this visual model — students can realize how smart they are because they understand HOW they are smart. It’s a paradigm shift. Students also create a class kite — to represent their group dynamic — and every AACA teacher shares their individual kite with the class as well. 

Asking questions like who, why, what and when or where and how helps to define an approach to thinking, creating and learning. Each of these questions represents two of the eight intelligences and the whole person:

Body: kinesthetic and visual/spatial
Mind: linguistic and logical
Soul: musical and intrapersonal
Heart: interpersonal and naturalist

“Our son has learned so much about his personal learning style and what makes him a unique learner and he can communicate that to EVERYONE at AACA because every year every student creates their kite: a visual representation of their individual strengths and weaknesses in heart, mind, body, and soul.”

At Almond Acres the kite is used in many ways including the school logo, uniform colors and on lunch tables. Kite cards, as they’re called, are round – to symbolize the whole person. AACA also believes we are all a whole person first. Once we affirm how everyone is strong — then every student and staffer can be stretched, and then celebrated as they grow, learn and fly!

About AACA

Almond Acres is moving to Paso Robles. 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. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. 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!