november monthly messenger
Hello RTS Families,
We hope that November has been a month filled with happiness and togetherness for you and your loved ones.
Here at Rock Tree Sky we have been deepening our connections to one another and to our space. We have been making new friends, learning new skills, and enjoying the many adventures of experiential learning.
In this messenger you will find calendar updates for December, reflections and photographs from November, some gratitudes from several of the kids, and a parent education piece that discusses the practice of happiness and healthiness as education.
We hope you enjoy reading.
And, as always,
Be Well and Stay Curious
With love from the Rock Tree Sky Staff
Looking Towards December:
Saturday December 8th: Parent discussion group at Rock Tree Sky from 10am to 12pm
Wednesday December 19th: 12pm pick up for Staff In-Service.
Thursday December 20th: Learner Exposition from 5pm-7pm
Join us for an evening of celebrating the wonderful projects our learners have created this fall!
Monday December 24-Friday January 4th: RTS is closed for Winter Break
Reflections on November:
Albeit short due to the Thanksgiving holiday break, November was certainly not short of learning, creating, or experiencing fun times.
The first week of November was particularly exciting for our youngest learners (our Roots kids). For starters or Roots program was able to set up a home base in Room 6 and several kids of all ages spent time setting up the space and decorating the room with a fabric tree and garden.
And thanks to the work volunteered by parent, Nick Wolters, many of our young learners have been able to enjoy playing with and exploring the possibilities created by a water pump feature in our side-yard sand pit.
What's more is that during the first week of November, the Roots kids enjoyed a beach day at Marina Park in Ventura. The field trip was a great day filled with swimming, sand fort building, exploring, playing, and general bonding. We feel it was empowering for our young learners to have the time and space to be free, celebrate our good fortune to live so close to the ocean, and of course play with one another. Thank you to all the parents who supported this outing! We could not have done it without you.
Back at Rock Tree Sky's Summit Space, so many wonderful creations were been made during the month of November.
From whittling wooden spoons, dolls, and boats, to creating alphabet letters out of twigs; from oil painting and holiday themed crafts, to growing crystals on animal skulls; it seems the creative drive of our learners is never ending.
Natasha and Casey would like to share their reflections of the positive impact and growth that has been witnessed as a result of of the teen seminars (particularly psychology and sex ed) that they facilitate respectively.
Kim would like to give a shout-out to all of the learners that have created production quality armor over the past couple of months and the way the kids have inspired each other to be making such creative and innovative costumes.
Throughout the month many of our learners enjoyed participating in a "trading blanket" offering during which kids were allowed to present unique objects that they either found or created and trade them with others in a respectful, structured way.
November at Rock Tree Sky also saw lots of tree climbing, exploring the natural life that surrounds our space, and excitement around practicing aerial silks.
And as a final note on November, I would like to add that it always feels pleasant to witness kids simply enjoying being together.
Quotes From The Kids:
This month our learners responded to the question:
What Are you Thankful For?
Ares (12): Lots of things. My family. That we have enough money so that we get to live in a house and get food and the things that we need. And this school. This school is amazing!
Aaron (7): I'm thankful for God because He made our world and He made us alive.
Savannah D (13): I'm thankful for a lot of things really. You know, I got a roof over my head and I get to come to Rock Tree Sky and have a lot of things that a lot of people don't have because they can't.
Penny (5): Family and friends. Because my family made me and I get to play with people.
Satia (13): Lots of things. Everything. Weekends.
Luci (14): My family and my friends because they're there for me when I need them and they support me.
Lila-Maya (7): Family and friends; I'm happy for them.
Maeve (10): I don't know. This probably, just, Rock Tree Sky.
Zuzu (11): Probably my chickens because I just love 'em.
Recognizing the Practice of Happiness as Our Education
For this month's parent education piece, I'd like to start by sharing a brief anecdote.
On Monday morning, during the Mud-Maker ('Mud-Makers' is the name chosen by my band of Roots kids) morning circle, we welcomed a pair of visiting siblings who were attending RTS for a trial day. As a way of welcoming and orienting these visitors to the culture of Rock Tree Sky I asked my Mud Makers if they could share what our Three Agreements are. After Leon said with excitement "Take care of yourself, take care of each other, and take care of the space," another child, Savannah, said "But I'm still practicing that, I'm still practicing taking care of myself and taking care of others."
To which I responded "So am I! In fact, we all are always going to be practicing those things, hopefully for our whole lives."
While Savannah's comment seemed to be made with the spontaniety common for children, I'm struck by the insight of admitting that self and community care are practices that are in process for all of us.
And that brings me to the next thread of inspiration feeding this essay. After the morning circle with my Mud Makers, I found myself re-visiting a favorite Ted-X talk linked here www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY *I encourage you all to watch this, and watch it with your kids!*
In his talk, thirteen year old Logan Lapiante poses the question, "What if we based education on the practice of being happy and healthy?" Logan goes on to remind us that it is through the experience of living that we learn how to practice being happy and healthy in ways that work for us as individuals.
Logan describes for his listeners how "hackschooling" (his term for the homeschooling/unschooling that he practices) has allowed him to learn how to be happy and healthy. He says that operating with a hacker mindset allows him to be innovative and support his own interests and education instead of getting caught up in maintaining the systemized societal norms and expectations.
I like this term "hacking," when applied to education because while it implies that innovation is happening to take care of and support the interests of the hacker, it does not reject the culture flat out. It's more of a reshaping or redefining in a way that makes sense for the individual or community.
And I see this happening at RTS and the positivity that it imparts. At Rock Tree Sky we have hacked the culture of education from one that is results based to one that is process based, from one that is competitive to one that is collaborative, and from one that is prescribed to one that is self-driven. We are not rejecting education or learning - we are upholding education and learning in a redefined way. We are practicing self-directed education in a way that holds learning how be happy, healthy, caring individuals at its core.
Take ten minutes to listen to Logan's talk and you will understand his perspective that the most important learning is about being and less about doing.
I'd like to end this by inviting you all to slow down and check in with yourselves and your kids. Think about and talk about ways in which you can move towards being happy. How can you support yourselves and each other in being well?