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Why Choose The Family Matters School

IMAGINE your first experience of school as a place that ignites your imagination, a place that invites you to follow your curiosity, a place that encourages you to learn from mistakes and see missteps as opportunities for discovery. Imagine school as a place where you are confident in your own abilities as a learner. Imagine being part of a learning family which supports you and challenges you and affirms you and celebrates you.

The Family Matters School offers a safe, affirming, and nurturing environment for children to start their schooling journey. In 33 years of working with youth in an after-school environment, we have continually heard from families that this is what they seek in a school. We believe that a family’s access to a community school where children learn and thrive is a fundamental right and essential to the neighborhood’s health, available to all regardless of socioeconomic status. 

We are excited to offer a school experience that recognizes and embraces each child as an individual, encompasses the entire family, and is committed to engaging the community in which the members of the classroom reside. 

Our Approach

ENCOURAGING curiosity, giving freedom to explore questions, and realizing the power in gaining knowledge: these are the tenets of The Family Matters School. We believe that the goal of education is to fuel the innate desire to learn by offering engaging, cooperative, and meaningful experiences. This approach equips students to view the world as a place of opportunity where change is possible. Through a deep commitment to social-emotional support, The Family Matters School invites children to become courageous learners who understand that by trying new things and making mistakes they continue to grow.

Our Commitment


Central to the learning community at The Family Matters School is the ability to ask questions and to openly communicate about issues in our neighborhood, city and the larger world. This means freedom to talk about the issues of race, gender, socio-economics, faith differences, and other identity issues as they arise. Teachers and staff intentionally work to avoid stereotypes and take an anti-bias approach. The learning community at Family Matters is a safe place for discussions where:

  • All voices are equally valued and respected.
  • All people have the right to express who they are and what they believe while respecting other people’s rights to express and hold different beliefs.
  • Empathy and understanding are cultivated.


At The Family Matters School we believe that equally important to academic skill and critical thinking ability is social-emotional skill and well-being. In order to use our intellect to its fullest, knowing how to communicate and interact with others in the world is essential. Likewise, it is essential to have an understanding and appreciation for ourselves as individuals. Reflecting on our interactions with others and developing the ability to communicate honestly, directly, and free of blame, shame, judgment and fear are woven into the learning fabric. We use the Family Matters Principles of Leadership as our guiding philosophy for social-emotional learning.

Daily Components


Offering time for self-selected activities gives children ownership of how they spend their time. Short breaks of 10-15 minutes allow children to determine what their immediate needs are. A child may decide to relax on some pillows or with a book. Another child may choose to participate in exercise to expend pent-up energy. Within the classroom there are a variety of activities available for longer choice times including dramatic play, building materials, art materials, books, and other activities recommended by the class.


The Family Matters School infuses the day with read-alouds from a variety of materials: picture books, longer fiction books, non-fiction books, news and/ or magazine articles. We also create space  for a mix of  independent work at Learning Centers and 1:1 adult/youth work focusing on individual needs. Mathematical thinking each day is a  real-world opportunity for the youth to problem solve. Inquiry Time allows the class to more deeply explore larger topics of interest. The inquiry approach asks the youth to develop ideas and then use research and experimentation to discover whether or how  their theories bear out. The learning week is rounded out by STEM Lab, Spanish Language Lab, TinkerGARDEN, arts explorations in movement, visual art, music, and drama guided by artist-facilitators from the community and local universities.


Multiple times during the day are devoted to checking-in and giving time to voice concerns and joys and to discuss ways of working and playing in the class cooperatively. These moments provide opportunities to build communication skills and to test strategies for constructive conflict resolution that strengthen the community and deepen relationships.


The Family Matters School offers a relaxed entry and exit to and from the school day inviting parents to play with the children or talk with other parents and staff team members for the half hour before the school day structure begins and for the half hour after school ends.

Typical Day at TFMS

Tuition/Enrollment Information

Frequently Asked Questions

How does TFMS team teaching approach work?

TFMS is committed to providing a team teaching approach with our learners. In building the teaching team, we look for a balance of voices that includes teachers of different backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, languages, and experiences. The Lead Teacher facilitates the major flow of the day and other team members support segments of the day such as literacy, math, STEM Lab, Spanish Lab, inquiry, and arts activities.

How will my child be assessed?

TFMS provides youth feedback on their work and encourages learners to continue with a task until they master it. We avoid grades and instead offer constructive comments. We encourage youth to name the value in their own work. We use Teaching Strategies Gold and the Phonemic Awareness and Literacy Screening to formally document a learner’s progress. At the end of each semester we offer families a report on their child’s learning.

Will my child get physical education and arts education opportunities?

TFMS offers a variety of movement and arts activities woven into the fabric of our everyday routine. The approach we take to literacy, math and inquiry all involve the arts, movement, and emotional well-being. Additionally, artists work with the class on a regular basis, some weekly and some monthly, in the areas of movement, music and drama.

Is there a hot lunch program at TFMS?

We are partnering with A Just Harvest for meal service. Parents are welcome to send there child/ren to school with lunch. We request that all lunches contain a healthy mix of fruit, dairy, protein, and grains.

What happens when my child finishes at TFMS?

TFMS team will assist families in finding a match-fit school for their children when they graduate. The foundational experiences children receive at TFMS will equip them to adapt to a new environment.

How does the multi-age classroom work?

Children develop in ways that are complex, uneven, and unique. Multi-age classrooms allow children to stay with the same teacher and learning cohort over time. This offers an extended opportunity for the teacher to monitor and support skill development and design increasingly complex learning experiences for learners. This approach allows older children to be mentors to support and model for their younger classmates.

Click the link to access our school handbook.