Our Philosophies

Natural Learning Alternative was created to provide children with a loving, developmentally appropriate first learning environment. We believe children are all creative, unique individuals who each have their own special gifts!

We offer a true child-led environment with lots of space, time and opportunities for children to explore and discover with real hands-on experiences. At NLA we respect children as individuals and use Hand and Hand Parenting as our model for conflict resolution.

Social conflicts are looked at as “learning opportunities” and help develop social-emotional intelligence. Our cooperative, parent participant model offers lots of loving engagement and connection for both children and adults. Parent support is a big part of our community!

Parent Responsibilities

Please take time to download and read the Parents Handbook.


Our Parent Participant cooperative model is only successful with parent interaction! Come ready to “plug in” to and for the children without computers/cell phones. If you have an important phone call to make (it happens to us all) please pull another parent “in” and step “out” to the far backyard or front yard, so as not to disturb the children’s environment. No cellular or game devices for the children while at NLA please.

You know your child better than anyone and you can help us as teachers and parent helpers to know and understand your child’s unique needs. We are all unique and we have different ways of dealing with stress and conflict.

Approach each situation objectively.

See each and every child in the “highest light.” We are all learning and growing and we look at any conflict at NLA as a “learning opportunity” for us all. Model calm and respect for everyone while at NLA. We all have things going on in our lives and if you need extra help or if you or your child are “processing” something or are just not feeling 100% let us know :). We are all human ;).


We can learn so much about and from children by just “observing.” This doesn’t mean “hover” or “interrupt” their play, but staying around just in case you are needed. Yes, you can play too :). Get involved as long as it doesn’t change the child’s play or ideas.


Listen to the conversations and write down anything you want to share later! You can also write down their stories and songs! We love to “share” these with the other children at the end of the day.

Observe, listen and help guide when needed. This doesn’t mean solve their conflicts, this means guide when a child needs help (with the words, with not “hurting” someone, with helping someone they have hurt). Every situation and every child is different, so there is no “one-size fits all” here and no “magic wand” to solve each situation that may arise. Remember model “respect” for all children and adults and to “lead with your heart.” When you “need a little help from a friend” please ask.

Attending our Parent Toolbox sessions can shed some light on how to help guide conflict/ resolution during our time together as well as explain why we do what we do.

An example: We don’t force apologies at NLA, but yet try to help find a way to recognize a “hurt” that the child can understand (a wet paper towel, an ice pack, the NLA peace bird, a picture or a hug).

Other resources to check out: Janet Lansbury books, blog, soundcloud audio and articles, Teacher Tom blogs, Bev Bos (books, articles and youtube videos, Nancy Rosenow, Vivian Paley, Rae Pica.


Help facilitate activities without modeling. All of our activities are “open ended” and most are more about the “process” than the “product.” It is amazing how creative the children are and how they approach each activity differently. Be as excited and full of wonder as the children are and ask questions! If a child is engaged in an activity leave them be. No need to force story/song time. They are listening and will join us when they are ready.

Clean Up

During the day tidy up areas that the children have moved on from to make it more inviting for the next group of children. At the end of the day jump in and help with clean-up. You will learn where things go and if you don’t know just ask. If you need to be with your children that is the priority of course! Make sure there are parents watching and assisting children while cleaning is happening. If you have an infant we understand, just do what you can!


You are invited to bring your passions, talents, careers to our community!