Program, Structures, Enviroment

What? How? Where? 

Rock Tree Sky is not your typical school.

Rock Tree Sky is many things - a self-directed learning community, a child-centered learning environment, a center for homeschool enrichment, a maker space, a loose parts playground...

At its heart, Rock Tree Sky is a place where kids grow, learn, and explore with the freedom to be their whole selves with the support of loving mentors. 

But we know you're probably asking

What will your child do here? 

How does this happen?

And where does it all take place? ​


Put simply, a day in the life at Rock Tree Sky is different depending on the day.
Since children are free to be the leaders of their own adventure, the range of activities one could explore throughout the week is vast. Mentors as well as specialists from the community offer a variety of seminars, projects, experiments, and skills. Kids have the freedom to opt into or out of offerings as they choose. Learners are also welcome to host offerings and explore, play, and experiment with the materials that have been strewn loosely about the space.

​Some examples of what a learner could do at Rock Tree Sky may include (but are far from limited to) the following: 

  • Farm chores

  • Sculpting

  • Lego creating and play

  • Free play

  • Making music

  • Chaos tag

  • Storybook read aloud

  • Jewelry making

  • Gardening

  • Baking 

  • Free Write

  • Social justice discussions

  • Crafting

  • Sewing

  • Bee keeping

  • Mind bending math puzzles

  • Bow-Making and Archery

  • Animal tracking

  • Fractions you can see

  • Physics experiments

  • Mini rocket launches

  • Poetry

  • Live Action Role Playing

  • Wood Shop

  • Community activism

  • Miniature model making

  • Natural Dyeing

  • Fantasy play

  • Gymnastics and dancing

  • Stop-motion animation

  • Game time

  • Letter writing

  • Electronics

  • Foraging

  • Creek walks

  • Book club

  • Fort building

  • Painting

  • Digital drawing


Rock Tree Sky has a team of devoted mentors that do the work of holding the container for our learners to flourish. With such freedom and autonomy within our program, it is important to uphold some simple structures that support our learners as they navigate the richness of the environment. 

The Three Agreements 
Borrowed from from our friends at the Village Free School in Portland OR, The Three Agreements are
Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Each Other, Take Care of the Space. We request that all members of the RTS community agree to these upon arrival. These agreements are our tools for holding ourselves and others accountable for how we show up at Rock Tree Sky. If it is noticed that someone may be bending or breaking an agreement we address that with nonviolent communication and our conflict resolution process.

Band Meetings 
Rock Tree Sky is a mixed age learning community. Upon admittance, every learner is assigned to a band. A band is an age-based group of learners that meet together every morning and afternoon with the guidance of a mentor. 

Roots Band: The Roots band is comprised of the youngest learners ranging in age from 5 to 7 or 8 years old. At a typical Roots Band morning meeting children greet each other with a good morning song and check ins (how are you feeling?), mentors and learners share what's on offer for the day, learners are welcomed to practice intention setting by sharing what they would like to do for the day. In the afternoon the learners and mentors come back together to either practice sharing reflections on the day (often in the form of a rose, bud, or thorn), enjoy story time, or play a game together. 

Middle Bands: For learners between the approximate ages of 8 and 12, morning band meetings include check ins, a review of the days offerings, and the practice of intention setting. Afternoon meetings include reflecting on the day as well as other games or activities that the group may decide on. 

Teen Band: For teens or high school aged learners, morning band meetings include check ins, a review of the days offerings, and intention setting. Afternoon meetings may include sharing reflections on the day and otherwise enjoying time spent together. 

Just as our staff is arranged in a cooperative structure, so too is our community arranged in a way so that every learner and mentor has a voice and equal footing in decision making. 
To manage community life, an all-program meeting may be called at any time by any RTS member.
During the meeting it may be decided that problem solving around that issue should be taken to a "culture committee."
Culture committee meetings are focused group meetings comprised of individuals who feel personally invested in making the proposed agreements regarding the issue at hand. Once a proposal is prepared, the motion is adopted into practice or moved to a vote for further consideration. 


Where does all this learning, playing, growing, exploring happen? 

Rock Tree Sky is located in Upper Ojai, CA. Our campus is nestled in the Topa Topa Mountain range and surrounded by stunning landscapes. Learners and mentors gather daily at our multi-roomed, open campus. The space is abundant with both indoor and outdoor play space, an art studio, wood shop, multipurpose science learning and design lab, a music room with various instruments and recording equipment, a kitchen, a loose parts playground, a garden, and more. Our campus is surrounded by natural settings where we enjoy excursions and curiosity igniting exploration. 

We take field trips to a local homestead with goats and chickens almost daily. Other trips are offered monthly so that our learners also have plenty of opportunities to venture off campus. In the past our learners have enjoyed field trips to the beach to explore tide pools, museums in Ojai, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, local businesses, the Ojai Story-Telling Festival, and more.