Teaching Values

We offer a balanced educational experience incorporating academics, arts, nature appreciation, and social and emotional growth. We approach education holistically, where learning is natural in a process of exploration and discovery. Our multi-age classes create academic and social opportunities – older and younger students share their knowledge and skills, and solidify their understanding through teaching, exploring, and playing. We strive to reflect our values in the structure and nature of our learning community.

OCS students working together


Children learn best when they are known, trusted and valued, and when their social environment is safe, respectful and inclusive.

For example:

Students are explicitly taught techniques for peaceful conflict resolution, beginning with understanding and expressing their needs and hearing the needs of others.

Younger children have older ‘buddies’ for reading and other activities, strengthening relationships among age groups and creating opportunity for social learning.


Children are motivated to learn more and go deeper when topics are relevant and connected to what they care about—when learning is a tool for exploring and making sense of their world. Children’s belief in themselves as learners grows as they have an opportunity to set goals they care about and solve problems that may seem hard at first.

For example:

Students work with teacher to identify personal learning goals. Through managing and presenting their portfolio they come to recognize their growth and increasing skills and abilities.

Several afternoons a week are devoted to study of a theme based on children’s interests. This is done through integrated curriculum created by the teachers specifically for a particular group of students.


Children learn best through discovery and direct experience – when they are active partners in solving problems, rather than passive recipients of teaching.

For example:

Teachers use hands-on, manipulative activities in math which allow children to discover the concepts that underlie a pencil-and-paper procedure.


OCS student drawing a picture

Children develop confidence in their own voice and perspective if they have the opportunity for creative self-expression – in a setting where originality and innovative thinking are honored.

For example:

Arts are woven into curriculum in all subject areas. Children have rich and varied experiences with visual arts, drama, movement, and daily community singing.

Teachers value children for who they are. They listen to and honor children’s unique ideas and perspectives.


Children learn best when they are known, trusted and valued, and when their social environment is safe, respectful and inclusive.

For example:

Every Friday children teach workshops to small groups of other children of all ages—how to make a pinch pot, how to make tortillas, all about turtles—learning from and teaching their peers.

Children are encouraged to seek and give support in conflict resolution.