What Does it Take to Thrive at ROA?




We can boil the ROA systems to just three choices that ensure a happy and fruitful learning journey:

  • Be kind.

  • Do work every day.

  • Take responsibility for your actions (don’t go looking for someone to blame).

Simple, right?

Yes, but not always easy.

It actually takes time and practice to become strong in all three. But we believe learning them deeply will position our Learners well for the rest of their lives. With this goal, our systems are built to support growth – providing grace and forgiveness with accountability and feedback – (age appropriately) all along the way. By the time a Learner progresses through elementary school, middle school and high school, they have gained a high level of complex decision-making around these three choices.

For example, in the very early years, kindness is as simple as not hitting each other, excluding a friend, lying or stealing and not saying mean words. Soon, layered into this experience is learning that not distracting each other during work time is an act of kindness. Then, Learners learn to make peace with each other using the process at the Peace Table, to give and receive feedback that is kind yet tough, warm and cool. Later, kindness includes learning how to apologize with authenticity and deciphering the difference between kind-hearted and mean-spirited humor. Finally, when they’re much older, kindness is played out through authentic servant leadership grounded in honesty, humility, and confidence.

The same sort of progression happens in terms of learning the habit of working every day. What begins as short but daily spurts of reading, writing and math progresses into three-hour sessions of daily work and ultimately, uninterrupted deep work experienced as “flow. The work ethic is built step by step with the gratifying experience of earning badges of mastery and experiencing what excellence feels like. Mediocrity won’t satisfy once you’ve tasted excellence.

Taking responsibility for actions and choices begins by being honest, in the early years. Admitting that they chose to say or do an action of their own free will without pointing at another friend as the cause. To later on learning that they are the creator of their own life experiences and that events just don’t happen to them, they get to choose how they respond instead of victims who are helpless to the things happening to them. Never needing a rescuer, never finding others to blame for their poor choices. As they grow mature, they learn to authentically be mindful and think things through, responding thoughtfully rather than reacting emotionally. There’s a big difference.


The simple choices of being kind, working each day, and being responsible for actions end up feeding each other so the alternative doesn’t make sense anymore as a good way to live life.

Our older Learners feel this way, you can ask them to learn more about it.


Dr. Seuss said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

Just be kind, do some work, and don’t go blaming others. That’s it. The question is, do you value your children developing these traits? Do you have what it takes, holding clear and consistent boundaries to help them as they do? And do you need to cultivate all three traits as well in order to be the role model that they need?



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