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Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Dear RTS Parents, 

While we are only two months into Rock Tree Sky life in our new location, this new space is already feeling like home.

While we are still navigating the flow of our self-directed days in this new space, the underlying feeling is that we are all grateful for the increased possibilities that increased space allows for. 

There is something magical that happens when people are allowed to follow their curiosity, honor their inspiration, and really dig in. 

Just sitting on the RTS lawn on any given day feels special.

Sounds of a child practicing the piano emanate from Hartman Hall, as a groups of kids practice tumbling tricks on the big, blue mat supporting each other and encouraging one another to keep practicing. Mentors engage children in storytelling and read alouds, as another child turn a blank canvas into a colorful landscape painting. Children can be seen climbing trees, organizing their own games, teaching each other how to fold origami shapes, creating inventions in the woodshop...

The list goes on and on but the point is that itfeelsspecial to be a part of this community. Itfeelslike we are cultivating so much good. So that even when the inevitable challenges arise, its clear that the ultimate outcomes are positive. The kids (and grown ups) at Rock Tree Sky are learning how to participate in a dynamic community, how to honor their own interests while respecting those who they share space with. This community is alive and thriving. It's exciting and we are feeling charged up and ready to grow. 

As always, Be Well and Stay Curious. 

With love from the RTS Mentors 

Looking Towards NOVEMBER  

Thursday November 8th:Roots Field Trip (info to come via email to families of Roots kids) 

Saturday November 10th: Parent discussion group 10am-12pm at Rock Tree Sky 

November 19th-23rd: RTS will be closed for Thanksgiving Break 

Wednesday November 28th: 12pm Dismissal, staff in-service 

Reflections on October: 

When reviewing all that has occurred during the month of October, it is hard to recall all that we've been creating and exploring. Some highlights however include a family campout/potluck at Steckel Park. It felt special to share food, stories, and togetherness with community members in a setting different from that which we inhabit on a daily basis. 

Other highlights include the surprise birth of four baby goats at Natasha's homestead. Our learners have been loving taking care of the newest members of the goat family.

On the eve of Ojai Day, Rock Tree Sky learners had the opportunity to paint a section of the annual mandala. Some learners dedicated time during program on Friday to design what our section would look like, and others devoted time after program hours to engage engage with the greater community and participate in the painting activity on Friday night.  

We have also been able to enjoy the festive pumpkin patch that our learners  played in and creatively engaged with during the final days of October. It was also special to share our space with the greater community during an the Upper Ojai Relief's Fall Festival.

And of course pumpkins were carved and costumes were worn in celebration of Halloween. We also had the opportunity to celebrate Día de los Muertos with face paint and hot cocoa thanks to community members Monique, Sophia, Viri, and family. 

This month several learners have been exploring logic challenges using the Turing Tumble which is essentially a mechanical computer. A simpler logic game, NIM has been highlighted in the last week.

Also a handful of learners have been assisting in the maintenance of the a Jun culture SCOBY by continually brewing and bottling Jun kombucha which is now available for sale per request for $3.00 a bottle.

Many learners have been practicing their drumming, piano playing, guitar, and singing. A group of learners even produced and starred in a music video which is featuredon our youtube channel linked here.  

Learners have been baking, painting, sewing, carving wands out of wood, dying wool with plant based natural dyes, enjoyingHarry Potter read aloud, working on a short film script, and so much more.

We are moving into November with open minds happy to continue all that we are cultivating.  

Quotes from Kids: 

This month I had some meaningful conversations with learners about what self-directed education means to them and what they love most about Rock Tree Sky. Highlights from these conversations are featured below: 

Chrissy: What is your favorite thing about Rock Tree Sky? 

Finn Porter (9): Well...before Rock Tree Sky I went to private school where you'd have a sheet of paper with all the things you had to do and then when you were done with that you could free play but only after the work things. At Rock Tree Sky you don't have to do the work things first you can free play all the time and be outside. Which feels better. I would prefer to do everything outside, because it's better...because it's outside. 

What does Self Directed Education mean to you? 

Well, you learn what you want to learn... You do what you want to do.

Chrissy: What is your favorite thing about? 

Theo Kuhlmann (10): Everything. I like how we can do what we want. The freedom. 

What does Self Directed Education mean to you? 

Choosing what you learn, and how you want to learn it. 

Chrissy: What is your favorite thing about Rock Tree Sky? 

Elan Belgum (7): That we don't have to sit down at a desk. 

What does Self Directed Education mean to you? 

I just like to play with my friends mostly. 

Chrissy: What is your favorite thing about Rock Tree Sky? 

Azelie Fehr (8): I like that there's lots of things you can do. Like there's lots of choices. And also that there's a bunch of people so that you can meet new friends and also that you aren't just sitting around at a desk. 

What does Self-Directed Education mean to you? 

I don't really know...

Well, pull it apart...what doesselfmean? 

Yourself...Oh! Now I know what it means. For me it means that you don't have a teacher direcrecting you, yourself is directing you. 

I love that! Now what about the wordeducation, what comes to mind when you hear that word?  

Hmmmm education....I see playing. 

Chrissy: What is your favorite thing about Rock Tree Sky? 

Izy Newlow (8): Hmm hard to choose. 

Well, how do you feel when you're here? 


Why? What makes you feel happy? 

Art. Art makes me happy. 

Chrissy: What is your favorite thing about Rock Tree Sky? 

Wiley Belgum (5)  Playing, and playing with Walker and Ryder and on the playground and at the library and playing legos. 

Chrissy: What is your favorite thing about Rock Tree Sky? 

Connor Dury (14): The face painting, by far the coolest thing. The drums. Art. Magic. There's a lot. 

What does Self Directed Education mean to you? 

Well I can learn whatever I want when I want. Learn by playing and whatever, whenever, how to do it. Like I'm not being forced to do stuff. But when I'm here I do stuff and learn and learn about friendship and other stuff like that. 

Chrissy: What is your favorite thing about Rock Tree Sky? 

Lana Gagne (9):Gymnastics is my favorite thing to do. 

What does Self Directed Education mean to you? 

Doing it by yourself 

Parent Education: 

The Value of Non-directly Supervised Play

This year the Rock Tree Sky community of learners is greater than it has been in previous years and our physical space has likewise increased in area. Both by design and necessity, this means that our mentors are not watching every kid's every move. That doesn't mean that our mentors are not nearby and ready to support our learners when needed - ourfirst priority, before anycurricular offering we may make, is to support children in navigating relationships. If children (and we as a human family) can engage in healthy, supportive relationships, much of the other learning becomes available through simply asking a friend for help.  

Part of making children's social/emotional learning a priority means that we allow  learners to engage in play that is not directly supervised. This gives children the space they require to practice their growing communication skills while building resilience. 

To support parents in trusting this process, this month's parent education piece reminds us of how valuable self-directed and non-directly supervised play is for the development of our children. 

Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids (both the book and blog), offers an insightful reminder that it is through self-organized free play that children are able to develop problem-solving skills, empathy, leadership, and responsibility. 

Skenazy illustrates these points in this blog post Are Our Kids Too Safe to Succeed? 



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