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Advocacy: Building the Skill of Confidence and Collaboration

While we are first and foremost a school that prioritizes quality, progressive curriculum, we also include in this a focus on developing young people who understand how to move about the world with confidence, kindness and compassion. 

While learning the three Rs is critically important, we also feel just as passionate about the quality of the student’s character and their self-awareness as they graduate out of our program. We put focus into the integration of academic aptitude and personal development, with the belief that education is empowered by a student who knows how to speak up for themselves and advocate for others. 

For this reason, we place a focus on teaching and practicing Advocacy, one of our six foundational values.  

What is Advocacy? 

Within the natural walls of our school campus, advocacy takes on many roles as our students grow from small sprouts in Green Door, to confident and outspoken adolescents in Purple Door. This confidence is due in large part to our focus on Advocacy, or the ability to stand up and speak out. This is represented as the California Black Bear in our Values line-up, as their nature is loyal, compassionate, and brilliantly intelligent. 

Advocacy is not argument or even debate, but rather comes from a place of consideration, introspection, personal experience and confidence in knowing that everyone's ideas (even when they are different from others) have a place. When there is space for everyone to speak out, trust and mutual respect are fostered and students learn they can do this for themselves as well as others. 

Why We Advocate

Some of us are wired with the natural ability to ask for what we need or want and express our thoughts without hesitation. Some of us are wired for internal dialogue, where we might know what we need or want or how we feel, but struggle to communicate that to others. 

As a school, we choose advocacy to build confidence and awareness in our students, no matter how they are wired. For the already-confident kids, this could look like active listening in support of their peers; for the more timid kids, this can look like speaking in front of a group for the very first time. Both foster awareness of self and others, and instills the idea that everyone’s voice belongs in the conversation and brings value to the collective whole. 

How We Advocate

At all levels, the power to ask for help when needed is the most powerful form of advocacy that a student or human can learn.  This work of asking for help begins in Green Door but is equally focused on in Blue, Red and Purple Doors in academics and out on the yard. It is also modeled by the adults at school who ask each other and the students for help throughout the day.

Illustrated By Isabella Ramsey

SYVFS Class of '23

Interwoven throughout the curriculum, from the first day of school right through to graduation, we present the opportunity to practice having a voice both in the classroom and out on the play yard. We find that year after year, giving a platform and space for each student’s voice, creates a powerful and dynamic learning environment. 

In Green Door, this comes in the form of Circle Time sharing, where students are given time to use their voice in front of their peers, while also practicing how to speak up and be heard. 

In Blue Door, Circle Time is the space to practice communicating ideas, and also fielding questions and considering the answers. 

In Red Door, drawing boundaries, asking for help, and learning to listen to others are core concepts that are emphasized. This is where the sharing of one's own thoughts and ideas takes place. . 

In Purple Door, advocacy can look like learning to work towards a common goal, and learning how to collaborate around ideas, fundraising, and implementing projects that leave the campus better after graduation. 

On the playground, the classroom practice of advocacy for self and others comes into play with multi-age play groups. This is demonstrated when sharing play equipment, asking for a turn, waiting for a turn, and problem-solving on the spot with engaged adults, when issues arise between students. 

Where We Advocate

Advocacy takes place in everything we do at SYVFS. If a student feels passionate about a project or a change, they are encouraged to follow that passion through a letter, a conversation or taking action. 

We practice advocacy in real-time, both in the classroom and on the playground, which makes SYVFS a living and breathing learning environment that expands well beyond the formal curriculum. We call this integrative learning, and it creates a dynamic learning environment, while also building bonds from student to student and between teacher and student. 

The result of this focus can be seen in students who graduate, well-practiced in formulating ideas and articulating thoughts. Confident students, who embody the ability to speak clearly to both peers and adults, is one of the hallmarks of a SYVFS graduate. For this reason, we hold up the skill of Advocacy -  to speak up and speak out for self and others - a skill we hold as one of our six pillars of SYVFS Values. 

If you would like to learn more about The SYV Family School, please visit and follow along to see what’s happening around campus on our IG @thesyvfamilyschool.

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