Building our learning culture

Elderberry Outdoor School is a safe and nurturing space to explore, try, try again, and grow as learners.

We are a community, working to empower and encourage ourselves and others to make our unique paths as we communicate, collaborate, and create.

Our Core Values at Elderberry Outdoor School

Positive focus

What resources do we have; how can we interpret the situation in a helpful way; how can we learn from setbacks?

Community

We prioritize respect and compassion for self and others; we encourage each other.

Mindfulness

We can become more skillful at managing our lives by encouraging curiosity, openness, and directed awareness.

Growth mindset

Our abilities can grow and change; where we give our time, energy and attention, we will see growth.

Resilience and empowerment

We can do challenging things; we are responsible for our learning.

Elderberry Outdoor School is a homeschool tutorial. It is designed to supplement, not replace, homeschool instruction. Parents are ultimately responsible for providing regular, thorough instruction in reading, math, science, social studies, music, art, health, and PE, and maintaining records of your child’s work.

Jennifer DeVille
Jennifer Deville
Co-founder, Director

My love of facilitating and protecting my kids’ natural learning process sparked my initial interest in secular homeschooling back in 2005, when my oldest was only 2. Watching the magic unfold has never gotten old!

The journey has had its challenges, and every challenge has taught me more about my kids, myself, life, and learning.

As my kids have grown up, with only one (out of three) still homeschooling, I’m grateful to be able to build this community to bring together families who want meaningful alternatives to conventional schooling.

Stephanie Routsis
Stephanie Routsis
Elementary Guide

I joined Elderberry Outdoor School’s leadership team in the fall of 2021, under it’s previous name of Global Foundations Tutorial. I had homeschooled my two children the year before essentially in solitude, and was ready to find a like-minded homeschool community to be a part of. I found it with Elderberry Outdoor School!

As an ardent supporter of maintaining children’s sense of wonder and curiosity, an advocate for whole child education, and a firm believer that self-worth is the foundation of learning, I actively support Elderberry Outdoor School’s mission to provide an alternative education choice.

Julia Fitzgerald
Julia Fitzgerald
Middle School Guide

Lifelong learning and creating have always been my all-consuming passions.

I began homeschooling with my two kids in 2012, and the journey has formed me into an unapologetic believer in kids taking responsibility for their own learning, which I can see playing out with my oldest now in college.

My mission at EOS is to promote that self-investment to the young people I work with, providing positive scaffolding for their adventure of crafting and curating their own explorations, projects, and skills.

Kristin Royce
Kristin Royce
Co-Founder, Board Member

When I left the public education sector many years ago, I never would have imagined that a Masters in School Improvement Leadership would have led my family and others on this amazing journey of educational choice and freedom.

It has been such a privilege to watch the movement evolve from its roots to the solid and supportive community we have today as Elderberry Outdoor School. We are so excited to welcome other families who know there is so much more to be learned “outside four walls” and to see all the magical places our children lead us along the way.

Our Daily Rhythm

Rather than having a rigid schedule, we follow a daily rhythm at Elderberry. This helps provide some structure and framework to the day, while still allowing for the change and flexibility needed in a self-directed, emergent learning environment.

Here is an example of what a typical day at Elderberry looks like, with the “anchors” of the day in bold…

Arrival

9-10am

Morning Meeting

10:00 -10:30

  • Happiness and energy level check-ins
  • Guides’ agendas
  • Students’ agendas
  • SEL lesson/activity
  • Mindful Minute – led by a student volunteer

Active Break

Students usually agree on and lead their own group game or activity

Guides’ offerings/Mini-Reports

11

Free Play

11:30-12

Lunch & Literature

12:00 – 12:30

Lunch with accompanying read-aloud related to current cycle

Free Play

12:30-1

Nature, Art, or Science

1-2

An activity, game, or offering with these focuses

Scan & Clean Up

2-2:30

Students participate in scanning the site, putting things away, cleaning up, and packing up to go.

Closing Meeting and Pick Up

2:30-3

  • Sharing highs and lows
  • Nature Journaling


Full Days of Immersion, Flexibility, and Play

Here at Elderberry a day is full of exploration, expression, and interaction. We allow time for transitions, rest, and play.

It is more important to us that we stay connected and engaged than it is to follow a strict daily schedule. Some days we adjust accordingly.


“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”
-O. Fred Donaldson, Ph.D.

two dressed children standing against trees
our MAKER MISSION CYCLES

Every 6 weeks a new cycle begins with a new theme.

Week 1 – Mission Planning
Week 2 – Mission Doing
Week 3 – Mission Doing
Week 4 – Mission Doing
Week 5 – Mission Celebration
Week 6 – Mission Debrief, Rest and Reflect

Project Ideas

We encourage students to present their projects in a large variety of ways to encourage their unique sense of creativity, strengths, and expression. Some project approaches students have chosen include:

  • Creating posters, brochures, books,
  • Craft a model or demonstration
  • Writing an article or report
  • Assembling cookbooks and how-to guides
  • Reciting a poem or telling a story
  • Singing or dancing
  • Writing letters
  • Producing a play
  • Preparing a meal
  • Sharing a collection
  • Designing Games
  • Conducting interviews
  • Organizing a party
  • Anything the kids think of!