Hello RTS Families,
On behalf of all the Rock Tree Sky Mentors, I would like to warmly welcome all returning and new families to another RTS year of learning and growing together.
This September, Rock Tree Sky has been buzzing with all the excitement of new beginnings in conjunction with a sense of ease of coming back together that has emerged from the years of germinating this culture.
That said, it is undeniable that transitions can be uncomfortable and may be challenging for some. We don't expect harmony and delight every day across the board. And that's okay. After several years of program together, we've noticed a sort of yearly rhythm. For the first several months, the general tone is excitement and there is big energy generated around navigating friendships and interacting with the countless possibilities that this space and community has to offer. Then, after winter break and into the new year, we feel a sense of settling and of deepening connections. This is the time of year when Rock Tree Sky starts to feel like family.
We maintain the awareness that relationship building and social emotional learning are at the core of what we do.
We endeavor to constantly support nurturing relationships for kids and families.
And, we believe that by building trusting and supportive relationships with our learners and families, our days of together can be less bumpy and more full of that rich learning and growing that we all strive towards.
With that, I will invite you to read on for calendar items for the month of October, photos and written reflections from the month of September, and an introduction to some of the ways that we will be supporting parent education this RTS year.
As always, Be Well and Stay Curious!
With love from the Rock Tree Sky Staff
Looking Towards October:
Saturday October 12th -Sunday October 13th: RTS FAMILY CAMPOUT & POTLUCK
Please join us for an evening of community building under the stars.
This year the Family Campout & Potluck will take place on our campus.
5pm Arrival time on Saturday evening
6pm Potluck Dinner
Nightfall stargazing with Jim's telescope
*Families choosing to camp may pitch tents on the field and are responsible for providing their own breakfast. Families will be asked to pack up by 11am on Sunday morning.
Please note, all rooms will be closed for activities. (We will keep bathrooms open).
Monday October 14th: RTS will be closed in observance of Indigenous Peoples Day
Wednesday October 16th: Parent Education with Carol Castanon 9:30-10:30 AM
Monday October 21st: Parent Education with Carol Castanon 9:30-10:30 AM
Friday October 25th: Ojai Annual Storytelling Festival Field Trip at Libbey Bowl. More details to come.
Wednesday October 30th: 12pm Dismissal, Staff In-Service
Reflecting on September:
The month of September marks the end of a summer break, and the beginning of a new cycle of RTS activity. Coming together at the start of the month was a return for many and whole new start for several learners and families joining the Rock Tree Sky community for the first time.
Although September was the first month of Rock Tree Sky after summer break, jumping into the dynamic dance of playing, creating, discovering, exploring, and learning together has felt familiar and fun. We've witnessed the building of new friendships. And witnessed the ways in which returning learners have supported new friends by helping them navigate the space, teaching them how to use tools and materials, and call friends into play.
After interviewing several learners, both those returning and new to RTS, the overwhelming response is that the kids are most excited about playing with new friends this year.
In addition to welcoming new learners and families this September, several new specialists and parent volunteers have also joined the RTS team this September. To learn more about the offerings and expertise these individuals are bringing to share with our learners, you can find profiles of our specialists on People Page of our website. Stay-tuned for updates as the year progresses.
Care for space has been an emergent theme of the month of September both on the RTS campus and in extending the notion of spacial care to care for the environment of our planet at large.
At home, the Rock Tree Sky community has opened some new spaces on campus, ie. Room 5, which we are calling the quiet room. And, beside Hartman Hall, more intentional space has been carved out for a music production room. And finally, Room 4 has been made-over into a seminar room/teen zone.
The garden is also a space that is receiving a great deal of attention this September. With the support of a team of enthusiastic parent volunteers and RTS mentors, learners have been plating seeds for new crops, compost bins have been built, and fruits and veggies has been harvested and enjoyed as fruit salad snacks.
Beyond the RTS campus, several learners have been practicing environmentalism by engaging in the Climate Strike, and Libbey Park clean up this month.
And, at Rock Tree Sky, care for the environment will be practiced in several ways that including a waste reduction initiative and the building of a mobile chicken coop. Both initiatives were kick-started in September and will continue to be integral steps to becoming a more environmentally conscious community.
Parent Education: Relationship Building Through Parent Support and Involvement
Relationship building and social emotional learning are not just at the core of Rock Tree Sky provides for youth. We also strive to support parents develop in these facets.
So for parent education this month I would like to utilize this space to tell you a bit more about the offerings and resources that Rock Tree Sky provides for parents and families.
First, I'll plug the weekly parent discussion groups facilitated by child and family consultant, Carol Castanon. Carol is not only an expert in child development but, she has raised unschoolers herself. Each week Carol will be holding space on our campus for parents to engage with one another in conversations surrounding the topics of child-rearing, self-directed childhood, and family relationships. These dialogues are intended to be safe places to ask questions and wonder together. As well as opportunities to build relationships with one another and support each other as parents. These sessions are offered free of charge. Parents may choose to attend every week or every so often. During the months of October through January sessions will be hosted on Monday and Wednesday mornings from 9:30-10:30. From February through June sessions will be hosted the same time on Tuesday and Friday mornings. For more information about Carol Castanon please follow this link to her website.
Next I will encourage attendance at our monthly family and parent gatherings. Each month RTS hosts either a gathering for the families (ie. October's Family Campout & Potluck) of a Saturday morning parent discussion group. Attendance and participation at these events builds trust and bonds between community members. We acknowledge that trusting relationships are vital to the health of our learning community. Gathering, conversing, sharing, and relating to one another feels good and it models the type of positive community engagement that we want for our children!
Third I want to remind you that Rock Tree Sky has a Lending Library of books on the topics of parenting, self-directed education, education theory, child development, and more! These resources can be found to the left of the door upon entering the office. You are encouraged to browse and borrow from our collection. We also have a reading list containing some of our favorite books, articles, websites, and blogs that can be found under the further readings tab on our website.