When I set out to create Outside School I never could have imagined that I would experience loss of appetite, sleep, a preoccupied mind, butterflies in my stomach, and general feelings of elation. The signs and symptoms are all there. I'm completely head over heels in love... And it's with my life! I couldn't be happier. Thank you one and all for being along for the ride; I can't do it without your support!
One persistent question the children have been asking is, "What's inside?" We found one week that the inside of a young nut we found on the ground was liquid. The following week one child described the same type of nut's gelatinous inside as, "A grape." Finally this week, the same type of nut, upon opening, had a young seed inside! We also found a perfect set of intestines in the creek, likely left behind by a raptor. We dissected the intestines (I have a dissecting kit in my car just for these situations) and found grubs in the stomach. Based on the length of the intestines we thought it must've come from a bird. We did a lot of research and learned to recognize the calls of the Cooper's hawk and found more evidence of its hunting. Adding onto that a couple of weeks later was the incredible experience of finding a dead lizard. Everyone wanted to know what was inside so we retrieved my dissecting kit to find out. Every child waited with great anticipation at getting to see its heart, and we felt our own as well. The big surprise was that it was pregnant and would've had six babies. The children created a beautiful altar, placed the lizard on "the royal wood" and her embryos each upon "a royal leaf." All the deceased beings were treated with great reverence and respect. If you'd like to read the full details they're on my facebook post from August 2: https://www.facebook.com/teachoutside
Once we are able to spend lengths of time getting to know our spaces, more is revealed. In one case it was our local coyote. I wonder how long she (?) had been so near without our knowing it. She can be found often in the eucalyptus grove between the parking lot and the picnic areas, and she runs away when we see her, even though our intent is not to disrupt her activities. We went on a long hike into Wildcat Canyon one day and stopped for a rest and play under some trees. The coyote and our group were not expecting to find each other there! She passed within about 50 feet of us and made her way up a hill, checking back at us often. We were paying attention to one another's behavior. It's an honor and a privilege to share the park with this magnificent predator! Watching Coyote making her way up her trail:
The older children and the younger children have truly benefitted from one another's presence, and each hone life skills in working with others along the way. One child, for example, was known for "not being good with young children." When she actually said that to me during her second week of camp I let her know that that's not what I was witnessing, and that I thought she had some feelings of frustration about her current interactions. From there we were able to work both on her stating what her needs were with the other child, and the younger child respecting the stated boundaries of others. The two were virtually inseparable: "She's my best friend!"
The children were actively involved in play fairly far away. Whenever I stood up they noticed immediately!
Kids: “Heather’s coming.” “Is it time to go?”
Heather: “I don’t know. I was wondering if you still wanted to go lizard hunting.”
Kids: “We’re fine. How much more time can we have?”
Heather: “Let me see. Twenty minutes more should work.”
Kid: “That’s as much time as we have for recess!”
Heather: “Well it’s just about all recess here. Any chance you could tell me about what you’re doing?”
Kid: “We have teepees! And we adopted these two. The dad can explain it better (and he does).”
Another frequent comment from one child:
“This is paradise!”
I am excited to announce that based on family inquiries I have opened up a couple new options for the school year. One is Tuesdays only and the other for monthly only. More information and a link to the application can be found at: www.outside.school.
Enrollment is currently open for the following programs:
-2019-2020 School Year
-2019-2020 School Year: Tuesdays Only
-2019-2020 School Year: Monthly Only
-2020 Summer Camps
-2020-2021 School Year
I have an updated video about Outside School here:
Thank you for being a part of this!!!