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Our Philosophy

Nature helps each of us grow.

We believe that all children deserve to be treated with respect, to live happy and fulfilling lives, and to be encouraged to explore how their skills and passions can intersect with a growing awareness of the needs of the world around them.

It is our responsibility to support children in a way that builds their skills and esteem so that they can experience the success of living their unique individual potential.

This is The Ashlar Way.

Our nature-based enrichment programs nurture whole-child development and individualized learning by embracing curiosity, creativity, and connection.

Ashlar Farm and Forest Programs in Maple Valley, WA.


Our Philosophies

Welcome to Ashlar, where we apply a holistic approach to human development and education. While our learners have access to the latest technological resources and will experience a truly innovative enrichment opportunities, our main daily focus is on nurturing the hearts and minds that will make use of that education.


“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” ~Aristotle


We regard nature as one of our great teachers, a community unifier, and a therapeutic partner. Our programs include ample time spent outdoors in all weather.


“Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives.” ~Thomas Berry


Traditional public education focuses on teacher-guided academic lessons for the majority of the day. At Ashlar, we follow a different approach, a philosophy which is sometimes referred to as “disruptive education”. This philosophy focuses on student-guided quests of discovery and exploration. Our learners follow self-directed academic goal. One thing that sets us apart from traditional education is the large amount of time devoted to learners creatively pursuing their own passions, as well.


“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” ~William Butler Yeats

Our learners are not simply passive attendees at a school, but are truly active members of a thriving community. Through selected and assigned stewardship tasks, each person finds the importance of being committed and dependable within the community.  Every person on campus has a role to play in this community, and having large community involvement keeps morale up and costs low.


“Community is much more than belonging to something; it's about doing something together that makes belonging matter.” ~Brian Solis


We value the wisdom, nurturing, acceptance, admiration, and learning that takes place in multi-age groups. Our studios cover more than a decade ages, giving our learners even more opportunity to mentor, nurture, and aspire.


“We all have souls of different ages.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Holistic education is concerned with the development of a person’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative and spiritual potentials.


“Holistic education is a philosophy of education based on the premise that each person find identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace. Holistic education aims to call forth from people an intrinsic reverence for life and a passionate love of learning.”

— Ron Miller- Pioneer in Holistic Education

"Holistic educators feel that schools must be places where the relationships we want as adults exist for the student as much as possible—where open, honest, and respectful communication is the norm; where differences between people are appreciated; where interaction is based on mutual support and not competition of hierarchy, and where the decision making process (if not engaged in by everyone at some level) is at least accepted by everyone." — Scott H. Forbes, Author of 'Holistic Education'


Common elements of holistic educations include:

  • Multi-age classrooms or studios

  • Experiential, hands-on learning

  • Opportunities to connect with nature

  • Focus on Relationships, Responsibility, and Reverence for all life

  • Child-lead, emergent curriculum

  • Culture of respect

  • Teachers as friends or mentors rather than authority figures

  • Inclusive of all abilities and gifts, inspiring individual passions

    • “There are no deficits in learners- just differences.”


Well-known approaches to holistic education include:

  • Waldorf

  • Montessori

  • Reggio Emilia

  • Sudbury

Contact Us

Please fill out the form below if you have any questions!

You can also reach us by email and text/voicemail:

Email: Text or VM: 425-444-7871

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