Cottonwood NYC

Cottonwood Cooperative

a community exploring self-directed, play-based, and
nature-focused approaches to learning

Cottonwood is a homeschool mixed-aged learning resource center. At Cottonwood learners and other involved community members are free to explore, tinker, dabble and invent. We share ideas and interests, set intentions and collaborate to fulfill them. We solve problems together, ask questions to understand, and find solutions to help one another towards achievement. We support one another’s freedom, showing empathy and respect for all people, places and things.


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Join Cottonwood

Once you’ve contacted us and have a feel for our learning resource center, you may join our community by submitting an application via the link below


“Cottonwood is a very unique, supportive and nurturing community. It’s a place where [our child] has the freedom to explore and learn through wonder & discovery. It’s a place where our son feels safe and heard. It’s a place where [our child] is joyfully challenged to question and find his own answers. Cottonwood kids are empowered to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes. They are encouraged to work together to find solutions and build their own learning environment. It is a warm, thoughtful and welcoming community, where friendships are cherished and where we all work to build one another up. Learning how to use your voice and to respectfully communicate thoughts and feelings is at the core. Since [our child] started Cottonwood, [our child’s] awareness of others, as well as own self confidence has blossomed. [Our child] has learned how to listen to others, problem solve and to be fearless in trying new things. We appreciate so much the mixed age group, as all ages contribute different perspectives and ways of working together. It’s a unique place where our son feels loved and protected by the older kids while feeling responsible for helping the younger kids.”

“Madelyn & Katri are thoughtful, compassionate & patient facilitators that provide just the right amount of space and support for Cottonwood kids to challenge themselves and grow. They both value honest and open communication and put a lot of heart and thought into every encounter. They both inspire curiosity & wonder and are always so supportive of the kids wherever they are at. We feel truly lucky to have found this unique and welcoming community.”

“Cottonwood has proven to be a nurturing and exploratory program in which our son thrives.  We value the open framework that lets him be himself, focus on his projects, and learn in a creative, playful space.  Equally important, there is still structure to the day -- students benefit from enough of an outline each day so that they are not unbounded.  They are encouraged to learn from their peers and facilitators about new things, and they can present ‘offerings’ to the class...a practice that teaches them to share, to care for others, to be excited about new ideas and objects, and to value one's own contributions.  We have watched our son continue to be very much his own person, while growing into his social side, in a community in which he feels both comfortable and cared for… Cottonwood offers play-based learning experiences that are inspired by children's own curiosity.  It is as learning should be!”

“Having our three year old participate in the Cottonwood Cooperative has been a reassuring highlight in our “raising-a-kid-in-the-city” adventure.…Cottonwood embraces nature and the natural world, whether it’s exploring plants and animals at the park, or themes and materials carried into the kids’ art endeavors. When conflict arises the Cottonwood facilitators engage in a sort of ‘emotional judo’ where they talk it out sensibly and usually arrive at a win-win, understanding situation between children (read: our son isn’t the only one learning a thing or two at Cottonwood). Socially, [our child] has developed a nice balance, through Cottonwood’s child-lead methodology (and guidance from the excellent facilitators), in being a very well socialized little urbanite!  We’re happy to be a part of this group of people.”

“ [Our child] loves the freedom of expression and creativity that program gives. The opportunity to explore and expand [our child’s] interests is supported by the wonderful facilitators that always keep [our son] inspired. We feel  blessed to be part of the Cottonwood family for the 2nd year now.”