Outside School

Community Subscriber
Private School
8 students
teachoutside [at] gmail.com
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6490, (Meeting Address: 5755 McBryde Avenue, Richmond, CA 94805) Albany, CA 94706
Program Type:
Alternative school,
Homeschool program,
Independent study,
Micro school


100% Outdoor Kindergarten - 12th Grade Natural, Organic Learning in scenic Wildcat Canyon Regional Park

Students experience real life in real time!

An antithesis to public and private school classrooms.

Celebrating nature, individuality, and freedom in the urban outdoors!

This alternative education model is all about relationships, with each other and with the land.

Learning is child led and teacher supported, with all of us learning through play, conversation, and direct experience. This developmental approach respects everyone for who they are and encourages growth in all realms: head (knowledge), heart (social and emotional), hands (physical), and ecological (“To acknowledge the understanding of ecology and human interdependence with the ecosystem.” (Sobel & Bailie, 2016)). Lessons are organic, weaving together my life and educator experiences, everyone’s strengths, challenges, and interests, and what our environment and needs provide for us each day.

We experience awe regularly.


Perfect for those who want to flexischool, unschool, deschool, microschool, hybrid school, homeschool, be in a pod, independent study, or privately tutored. (Most families file a simple private school affidavit or tell their school they’ll be with independent studies- the application page has more details.)

My students are here because their families are looking for an alternative, organic, or natural education!

School begins the day after Labor Day and follows West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) holidays: Veterans Day (if it’s on one of our school days), Thanksgiving Week, Winter Break, Presidents Week, and Spring Break. The school year ends the Thursday in June that corresponds with WCCUSD’s last week.

-Tuesday through Thursday

-9:00 - 3:00 (drop-off by 9:15, pick-up as early as 2:45)

-Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until August 15 of each school year.

-Late enrollment may be available as space and existing group dynamics allow, with the last deadline for any school year being February 14 for a March 1 start. (See the top of this page to find out if space is currently available.)

Traveling scholars, those new to the Bay Area, and those referred by current or former families: please inquire.


Perfect for homeschoolers or those wanting to check Outside School out before committing to the entire school year.

8 Week Peek is for eight consecutive weeks, inclusive of school holidays; see the calendar linked on the front page,

  • Starting dates are available any Tuesday, so long as they occur on or before 3/1 of any school year,

  • Apply at least 15 calendar days in advance, no later than 2/14 of the current school year,

If we mutually agree at the end of the eight weeks, I’ll invite you to attend Outside School at the usual tuition rate for the rest of the school year!


Schedule is for four consecutive weeks beginning the week after the Independence Day holiday each year.

-Monday through Friday

-9:00 - 3:00 (drop-off by 9:15, pick-up as early as 2:45)

Parent Reviews

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We really love Outside School for Heather's summer camp.  It's 4 weeks in the summer, and most kids attend all 4 weeks.  It's a small group, so the kids really get to know each other and Heather gets to know them.  She does a fantastic job of following the kids interests and inserting her own ideas and structure, but because it's child-led, I think it likely feels less structured.  It's in a park in Richmond, which is outside the area you asked about, but it's a quick jaunt off the highway and I've found it easy to get to.


Hi! My homeschooling kiddos are at Outside School, an excellent Tues/Wed/Thurs program held in Alvarado Park, mixed ages, small cohort, one educator (who is super experienced, talented, kind, and thoughtful). They hike, explore, play in the woods, learn about nature, have deep discussions, navigate their social and emotional lives and interactions, observe wildlife, occasionally dissect small animals, read books at lunchtime... it's been so rich for my kids this year, and really steady during all the covid ups and downs. One of mine is also 8/3rd grade and it would be awesome for another to join! Feel free to be in touch with me directly for any questions about our experience, and I know Heather (who runs Outside School) is super available to talk.  https://www.teachoutside.org/outside-school

Update August 2022:

Towards the end of last year, our experience at Outside School shifted and was no longer positive for my kids or for us as parents. If you'd like to know more, feel free to reach out.


Hi! My 5yo son attends Outside School in Alvarado Park/Wildcat Canyon and absolutely loves it. Heather Taylor, the school founder/teacher is amazing! We feel fortunate that our child is learning outdoors and experiencing things that would have never happened in a traditional classroom. School runs Tues through Thurs from 9am to 3pm. I highly encourage you to check out the links above to learn more, and feel free to reach out directly with any questions.


I have the perfect program for you: Outside School! It runs Tu-Th, 9am to 3pm, at Alvarado Park in Richmond, and can have 8 children attending (currently there are 3 kids, including my daughter, so there's room). It's all outdoors and masked with social distancing—and it's been amazing. The kids hike all around the park, explore, climb trees, learn about plants and insects, try to catch fish in the stream, whittle sticks, try to identify scat, take breaks for snacks and reading, and walk up to visit the cows and see the view across the bay—and much more. All of this is facilitated by Heather Taylor, who is a very experienced outside educator and all-around cool person. (I actually met her through her equally cool husband.) Every day Heather emails out a detailed report with photos and stories about their adventures—makes me wish I could ditch my laptop and join them. Currently, my third-grade daughter does the Berkeley public school curriculum all day on Monday and Friday, and from Tuesday to Thursday, she attends the morning Zoom meeting with her class before bounding out of the car and into the park. On those days, she does her regular schoolwork after Outside School, which is fine with the teacher just as long as she turns in her work before the end of the day. I'd be happy to talk with you if you have questions about any of this. Here's the website: https://www.teachoutside.org/outside-school-main