We view parents as partners in the learning process and vital to the life of our school. Because parents and guardians deeply impact their child's orientation towards life, it is essential for us as educators to maintain an ongoing dialogue with families.  Children benefit immensely from a continuity of experiences between home and school. Thus, we strive to incorporate each parent into the life of the school in some capacity.


Part of our role as educators is to be a resource for our families. By offering an extensive resource library within our school and on our Resources page, we hope to share with you a few of the ideas that have shaped our approach to learning and to life. In addition, we offer numerous gatherings throughout the year to discuss parenting strategies, educational philosophy, and specific questions. We are also available for conferencing with parents and we also try to connect groups of parents with each other for more informal support. 



When I put Riley down for her nap today I told her that we would do something fun when she got up and she said 'like go patchwork school?'
...makes us feel so good that she loves it there so much!
-- Heather

(parent, 2008)


This is the most amazing learning environment for kids! The freedom they have to make choices and learn the way they naturally do is the most precious thing a child can get out of a school. They get a sense of self -worth there!



Getting to Know Us

It is important for parents and children to feel certain that Patchwork is the place they want to be.  We offer numerous ways for you to learn about the school’s philosophy, meet the teachers and director, and get comfortable with the environment.  This allows you to feel confident that you have made the right choice for your family, and ensures that you feel ready to place your trust in us.

  • Attend one of our Informational Tours, which are scheduled throughout the year.  This is your opportunity to find out more about the school’s philosophy and environment, as well as your chance to place your child on the waitlist or enroll.  This includes a presentation, tour and Q & A with the directors.
  • Ask for our list of parent references, so you can speak firsthand with parents whose children attend Patchwork.
  • Chek out books from the Resource Library on topics such as Social/Emotional Well-being, parenting, homeschooling, education and more.
  • Check out the Philosophy & Resources pages to learn more about our educational approach, and the Teachers & Staff page to find out more about who we are.
  • For prospective Elementary families, you can contact us to set up a participatory visit for both parents and children. 


Parent Support & Education

Because we understand how challenging it is to be a parent in today’s world, with so little support for families, we have created multiple ways for you to get and give more support:


  • We offer weekly Parent Resource Groups, where parents meet regularly to listen to one another, to share the experiences of being a parent, and to create space for parents to work through their own issues.  This is open to families not currently enrolled at Patchwork, as well.
  • We offer a Communication Skills Workshop that give you 6 hours of intensive training on the various social/emotional tools utilized by the teachers so that you can employ them at home should you choose too.  This is also available to families not currently enrolled at Patchwork.
  • We have a community email list to help you arrange babysitting co-ops, playdates, or just ask the community a question.
  • We have many events designed to meet the needs of the whole family, such as our spring workdays which usually get everyone knee-deep in sand and dirt.


Parent Involvement

These are just some of the ways that you might be able to get involved with the school, but we are always interested in hearing your suggestions, too:


  • We ask that all parents attend our parent orientation session at the beginning of the year.  If you can’t make it or are enrolling mid-year, ask us about checking out a DVD copy.
  • Try to attend as many Learning Dialogues and Parent Advisory Board meetings as possible.  These are regular events for parents and staff to get together to discuss topics relevant to the community.
  • Sign up to do an offering at school – this can be any kind of activity that you would like to offer up for the day.  It can relate to a current thread, it can be something you are an expert in, it can be a hobby of yours, or it can just be a fun project.  Talk to us about your ideas!
  • Volunteer to bring snacks, read books with the children, play music, or something else.
  • Read the Patchwork digest and talk with your child about the pictures.  We will send you links to hundreds of pictures each month to help you feel connected to your child’s experience.
  • Volunteer to help with administrative projects, field trips, fundraisers, family events and more.
  • Apply to be on the Board of Directors – we require that our board always consist of a mix of parents, staff and community members to ensure that the school’s vision is guided by its participants.
  • Join us as we attend various local, national, and international conferences each year (e.g. AERO, IDEC).
  • Ask your child if they would like for you to join them for lunch one day.

Helping With Transitions

We encourage parents to work with their child to create a transition plan that allows everyone to feel comfortable.  Some things to keep in mind are:

  • We encourage you to choose a consistent routine that allows you and your child to know what to expect at drop-off time.  For most children, the anxiety around saying good-bye is much harder to deal with than the actual separation. 
  • Some children prefer a short drop-off routine with just a quick kiss or hug, some are happy to just run right in and don’t need a big goodbye scene, some like to settle in with a book or another activity and need to be engaged before you leave, and some feel best if they connect with a teacher first.  We suggest choosing one idea to start with, but then being open to the routine evolving as needed, or changing slightly as the day requires.
  • We provide a drop-off “window” which is 30 minutes for preschoolers and toddlers, and 15 minutes in the K-12, to allow you ample time to complete your drop-off routine.
  • If a child is insisting that they do not want to stay at school, you have two options:
    • If you feel that you need to take your child home, you are welcome to do so, but we do ask that you consider whether or not you are okay with setting this type of precedent, as your child will likely expect that this option will be available in the future.
    • If instead, you choose to proceed with your plan of leaving, we will do whatever is necessary to support your child in staying.  Assuming that they are not ill, children are usually okay within about 30 seconds to five minutes of the parent leaving.  If for some reason they do not appear to be settling in, we will give you a call.
  • Please note that we generally do not recommend that parents stay at school with their children for an extended period of time, unless special arrangements have been made with a program director.  After a child has been attending for 3-4 weeks, and they have had a chance to assimilate into the community, we encourage you to talk with them about ways that they would like for you to get involved at the school, during the day.  Please reference the section above for ideas.
  • In our experience, it is extremely rare for a child not to be able to find a transition routine that works for them.   If for some reason you are concerned about this possibility, we encourage you to talk to us about whether this is the right time for your child to start.
  • You should expect that there will be days that they are not feeling as excited about going to school – this is normal, just as we adults don’t feel excited about going to work every day.   However, as a community we will all learn from the experience of supporting one another, even on more difficult days.


The Child's Role

We view each child as a vital part of our community, with a profound ability to contribute ideas, to self-regulate, and to be uniquely themselves.  Because we hold these expectations of the children who attend Patchwork, we have intentionally created a structure to support, and scaffold, such abilities.  Elements of our structure that are important for parents to understand include:


  • Creating a space in which children can explore and develop their personhood, in a community comprised of peers and teachers.    
  • Respecting the readiness of each child, whether it is in regard to their enrollment in school, their interest and willingness to engage in activities, or their social-emotional development.
  • Creating opportunities for children to have their voices heard, in daily morning meetings, weekly democratic meetings and in conflict resolution meetings.  By practicing being heard, and listening, we build the foundation for democratic engagement with the world.  
  • Expecting that each child is committing to the community and recognizing that they will experience ups or downs.  Being a part of a community means showing up the next day and trying again. 
  • Just as children need loving, supportive families, we also understand that children need space to allow them opportunities to explore their independence, create their own identity and solve problems on their own.  To this end, we support families in creating a positive drop-off experience (see above). 
  • Knowing that there are times where we will have to set limits that a child may not like.  In these cases we find clear and respectful ways to define these limits, without using manipulation.  We believe it is developmentally appropriate for children to be given clear boundaries, because having too much control when you’re not ready for it can be scary.  Your child will need you to be able to listen to what was hard for them and work as a team with the teachers to help resolve any issues.