During pre-launch, you and your child will be reflecting upon a number of factors via our pre-launch surveys, designed to help you both think deeply about your child's interests, and educational experiences to date.
Each survey is individually reviewed by a member of our team that focuses on turning your answers, and your child's answers, into actionable recommendations for the program. These recommendations can include topic recommendations, club and challenge opportunities to mention to your child, and opportunities to pair your child with other students with similar interests.
If your child would benefit from special accommodations, this is also the period where we would discuss those accommodations with you, and plan how to create a customized onramp tailored to your child's particular circumstances.
If you have questions at all during this period, please contact us, because we genuinely enjoy hearing from you!
Sessions occur weekly, and for a reason. While we believe in the power of technology to bridge the collective action problem faced by traditional schooling networks, we also believe in the critical importance of balance, particularly as it relates to the use of technology.
Convene. All sessions start with a transition period called convene, during which our cadets (your child and the other children in the program) deliver mission reports (updates on how their week went), and participate in other activities designed to re-establish the connection between the students after a week away from each other. The portion of the session lasts for approximately 15 minutes, and also provides a natural buffer in case your child is running late for whatever reason. Life happens!
Consider. During this phase, your child will select which topic they wish to attend. One of the great joys, as a parent, after each session, is learning which topic your child selected, and why. Some sessions are designed as stand-alone explorations of a topic, whereas others will be multi-session series designed to allow for a deeper dive into specific areas, led by subject matter experts in the field.
We attempt to minimize what your child needs to participate in sessions to make it easier for everyone, but we do recommend always having blank paper, pencils, erasers, and some sort of coloring devices, such as colored pencils, markers, or crayons available.
If your child does not like the topic they picked, for whatever reason, they can switch to another topic, or work with the session co-pilot (educator) to adapt the requirements to better align with their interests, within reason.
It is also important to remember that during these sessions, and the entire experience, your child will be practicing critical life skills such as public speaking, teamwork, leadership, and critical thinking, whether they are the overt topic, or not. They are an inherent element of every session, so you can have confidence knowing your child is getting their vegetables, even if they are having too much fun to notice.
If you ever have questions about the exact nature of the topic breakouts, please contact us. We also have examples on our For the Fun of Learning page.
Combine. Your child will return from their chosen topic breakout to work with the other cadets in a variety of interactive formats designed to promote healthy, supportive, positive social interactions. For example, we have cadet-led guilds (clubs), challenges, teams, strategic games, and creative outlets, and we are always open to additional suggestions from your child.
During this period, your child also get to decide how they want to spend their +30 period of time, the last thirty minutes of each session. Giving your child the agency to decide how they spend this additional period allows them to focus on their interests and their needs, whether that be for additional focus on their topic, an individual challenge, or the desire to continue their social interactions.
Finally, we do try to end sessions on time, and again, for a reason. While we would happily stay and interact, part of encouraging self-regulation is to model self-regulation. It is hard to say goodbye, but we do so knowing that there is always the next week's launch!
The community in development creates opportunities for your child to continue their engagement with their session friends, and make new friends in other regions of the world, creating friendship networks based upon overlapping and complimentary areas of interest.
To help your child find connection, we have three different community layers:
Sectors. Sectors provide regional connection, and help cadets bond across age and interest variances. The fun possibilities are nearly infinite, and we want and encourage the cadets to take the reins of creating and developing their sector identities. Your child's sector is determined based upon which launch window they attend.
Guilds (Clubs). Guilds provide interest-based connection, allowing your child to bond with other cadets across age and geography. Each club develops its own name, logo, identity, speaker wish list, and activities. If your child is not sure which guild they want to choose, we will help them explore different guilds over time, until they find a fit, or make a new guild that meets their personal interests!
Missions. Missions create a layer to encourage your child and the other cadets to bond across age, interest, and geography, preventing narrow alignment within interest areas, in particular. Missions are generated by Mission Control (our Launchpad23 team), the cadets, or may be externally generated in the form of existing competitions and challenges.
Community interactions will only be available during periods when adult monitoring is possible. As we grow, we will expand the periods of time that community activities may occur, but always with safety first as our priority.
A Note About Noise
The first thing you will notice if you listen to a session is just how dynamic they are compared to a traditional educational environment. Our cadets do most of the talking, as they work together in groups of varying sizes on challenging, applied problems.
We teach your child, and our other cadets, to value their voice, and to use it, while at the same time valuing the voices of others, and encouraging thoughts that differ from their own.
Sometimes, cadets will end up talking over each other, just as adults sometimes do, and we actively work behind-the-scenes in the chat with the cadets individually during those moments to help them learn how to navigate and manage such situations, preparing them to handle similar situations in the real world, where there won't be an adult to make space for their voice, or to restore orderly discourse.
A Note About Curriculum
We aren't training cogs, so you won't find any scripts in front of the subject matter experts leading our sessions (co-pilots), or curriculum. Our co-pilots go where cadet interest and ability leads, adding challenge and context where needed (down to the individual level), and helping cadets make connections.
As such, no two sessions, even if focused on the same topic by the same subject matter expert, will ever be the same.
A Note About Progression
You can't climb Mount Everest without training, which is why we've built a progression that prepares your child for whatever goals they set.
Your child will start as an explorer, mapping their interests. Explorer sessions are designed for sampling, so we will encourage your child to venture out of their traditional likes and dislikes, particularly as many dislikes are a result of a poor initial exposure to a topic.
Your child will become a specialist when they are passionate enough about specific interests to take their level of exploration to the next level. Specialist classes provide increasing levels of difficulty, focusing on hands-on application and skills mastery under the watchful eye of subject matter experts within your child's field of interest.
As your child's passions coalesce into a sense of purpose, they will be ready to become a pilot, and launch an independent venture with continuing mentorship and support. For example, your child might launch their own business, or conduct novel research, but again, with them in the pilot's seat.
A Note About Fun!
At the end of the day, you know the truth: learning can and should make your child's eyes light up. You know it because you watched your child delight in learning at a young age, even when that learning was hard, such as learning to speak or walk.
We know this truth, too, and we work really hard to remind every child just how much fun learning can be, even when hard. After all, how can we develop lifelong learners if we don't help them remember the joy involved?
As a result, you will likely see (and hear) us having fun during the sessions. We think nothing sounds as amazing as a child laughing while doing hard things, so remember that the two aren't mutually exclusive. Learning is fun when done right, and the laughter of our students while doing hard things is a badge of honor in our book. We hope you agree!
A Note About Collaboration
We hope that you will remember that the experience is designed to be collaborative. We want your feedback. We want your child's input. We cannot improve and tailor the experience without it!
And tailor we shall! One challenge with the traditional educational approach is that they try to mass-deliver content, when your child, like every child, is an individual. Your child's needs, interests, and stage of development are all completely unique.
As such, we ask that you view the Launchpad23 experience as a never-ending work-in-progress. Hold us accountable for continual improvement, and hold us accountable for making the experience an undeniably positive influence in your child's life.
We will not do everything for your child, because that would deny them the important exercise of learning to do for themselves, but we will provide the means, circumstances, and support they need to make the experience everything they need.
Simply put, Launchpad23 belongs to your child, as much as it belongs to those helping make it happen, and we look forward to seeing what your child makes of it.