Curiosity • Wonder • Purpose • Compassion

Our education draws out and emphasizes experiences that are vitally important for modern children. At Tree of Life, the children's days are full of the wonder of the natural world, purposeful work in service of the land, each other and the community, integrative movement, artistic activities, and academic learning at an individual pace. Our curriculum centers on a local sense of place and expands to include the stories and history of the people of the world. Learning through movement and experience, small student-to-teacher ratio, hands-on projects with tangible results, more space and time for processing and transitions, and a sense of responsibility for themselves, each other, and the community allows our students to fully access their potential as students and human beings.


Each day begins with the students working together to prepare for the day and care for our learning environment. A practice of walking, running, balancing, and moving follows. A cornerstone of our program is the knowledge that integrating the physical body in childhood is an essential foundation for learning. Courage, joy, and confidence in movement is a foundation for life. Children love to move. They are born to move – orienting themselves to the world, to each other, and to their own center and capacities through thousands of movements each day. Many of these essential movements occur naturally through self-directed play and work outdoors. The children run, crawl, skip, climb, roll, and swing. They carry, pour, stir, cut, clip, and saw. Seasonal and daily work provides tasks that allow the children to grow and exercise their will capacities – working in the garden, tending our animals, gathering and sawing firewood, tapping trees and collecting sap, preparing food, and tending to their belongings, to name a few. Regular hikes to beloved wild spaces allow for the joy of adventuring, forest play and deep witnessing and observation of our friends in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms.

Authentic Learning

Our curriculum, based on the developmental approach of Rudolf Steiner, centers on a local sense of place and expands to include the stories and history of the peoples of the world, aiming for diverse perspectives and representation. Telling and retelling stories and experiences through speaking, writing, drawing, and drama forms the heart of our formal learning activities. This is the basis for learning writing, reading, and history. Children develop an authentic voice as retelling is initiated out of their own experience and initiative. The study of math begins through movement. The study of science begins through observation of the natural world.
In the style of a one-room schoolhouse, the children learn at an individual and developmental pace while being inspired and encouraged by each other. We expect each student to strive for their best as an individual, and it is our job as teachers to enable their success.
The children's day is woven through with artistic activity and purposeful work. Music, craft, painting, sculpting, gardening, tending to animals, trail maintenance, and woodworking are essential to our experiential curriculum.

Curative Education

At Tree of Life each child is welcome, seen, and met as a unique individual. They are encouraged to strive for their personal best in service of their own development and the community as a whole. Our purpose is to create a pathway for each and every student to thrive.
Inevitable challenges will arise on every child's developmental path. These challenges can present themselves in a variety of ways - physically, socially, academically. Through careful observation, clear understanding, and a supportive environment each child can grow and thrive. The right mixture of care and challenge each will enable them to bring their unique capacities to the world.
Curative Education was described as the deepening of Waldorf Education by Rudolf Steiner.

The back page of an October issue of San Francisco magazine displays a vivid photograph of a small boy, eyes wide with excitement and joy, leaping and running on a great expanse of California beach, storm clouds and towering waves behind him. A short article explains that the boy was hyperactive, he had been kicked out of his school, and his parents had not known what to do with him — but they had observed how nature engaged and soothed him. So for years they took their son to beaches, forests, dunes, and rivers to let nature do its work. The photograph was taken in 1907. The boy was Ansel Adams.”

                                                                                    -Richard Louv

Imaginative Play

In the woods or in the garden the children at Tree of Life engage deeply in the imaginative world of play. They become families of foxes, tree frogs, and cheetahs tending to each other and their home. They battle great dragons who reside in the swamp. Adventure to and inhabit magical new lands. Tell each other stories with pine cones, stones, moss and branches. Dream away beneath the trees while they sing songs arising from their own hearts. Give forest babies mud baths, medicine and swaddle them in skunk cabbage. Social knots loosen and untie with the balm of the beauty, tranquility, and spaciousness of the natural world.
Play is the way children come to know their own unique spirit and manifest it in the world. In play children take the straw of daily life and spin it into gold through the power of their imagination. It guides the child’s inner development, their capacities for self-direction and the ability to think for themselves. Like dreams, play has power, wisdom, and mystery.

"Education is not memorization. It is the activation of the imagination and a path towards liberation."

                                                                                                        -Dr. Christopher Emdin


In every season the natural world brings a world of wonder to behold. The children are often the first to notice with their close connections and delicate observations. Finding tracks when turkey, coyote, worm, raccoon, chipmunk, or fox have graced the forest. Spotting heron, hawk, woodpecker, w and even bald eagles as they circle the skies. Cardinal, catbird, and chickadee become our daily companions. Spring alights with the arrival of snowdrop, trout lily, trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, dandelion, buttercup, daisy, and the sweet multiflora rose. Trees accompany us through every season. The deep green shade of late summer with strong trunks holding steady. Vibrant leaves in autumn carpeting the forest floor. Dormant but deeply alive in the dream of winter, branches bare and still, pulling vital forces into the earth. Then like magic, sweetness rises and the taste on our tongues promises good things to come. The rosy aura of springtime buds, followed by blossoms, fruit and seeds. The wonder we witness in each changing season reflects an inner experience too; of settling into stillness to make space for dreams, of capacities not yet ripe, and our own seasons of growth and change.
At Tree of Life our festival life arises from this living relationship to the seasons and to one another.

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

                                                                                                           -Rachel Carson