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Riverbanks’ nature-based, developmentally appropriate preschool provides a unique learning experience for 3- to 5-year-olds. The emergent curriculum focuses on exploration and discovery in nature each day, promotes learning, and prepares children for kindergarten as they develop an appreciation for the natural world.

School Schedule and Fees

The preschool operates on a traditional school year schedule (September to May). There are two sessions available on either Monday/Wednesday mornings or Tuesday/Thursday mornings from 9:00am to 12:00pm.

Monthly tuition (starting in August) is $165 for Riverbanks members and $205 for non-members. An annual registration fee of $125 will be collected at the time of registration.

Registration Requirements

Students must be 4 or turn 3 by September 1 of the school year in which you are applying.

Students must be able to use the restroom independently.

You do not have to be a Riverbanks member to apply, but members receive discounted tuition.

Register Online

What is a Nature Preschool?

Children are naturally curious about animals, plants, water and the world around them. At Riverbanks Nature Preschool, we use this natural interest for nature as the context for student learning. Nature Preschool shares the same child development goals of a more traditional preschool but has committed to meeting these goals through experiences in and with nature and has an added goal of fostering care and concern for the natural world.

Riverbanks Nature Preschool is based on high-quality practices of both early childhood education and environmental education. Our instructors are accomplished in promoting the development of the young child across domains (e.g., cognitive, physical, emotional) and the development of a conservation ethic.

Riverbanks Nature Preschool will utilize the inspiring spaces and resources of the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden campus for student activities. The Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold Learning Center at Riverbanks Botanical Garden serves as a beautiful indoor space for activities, but most exploration, play and learning occur in our forest classroom.

Program Philosophy

At Riverbanks Nature Preschool we foster a caring and positive environment where children can learn. We integrate environmental education into our curriculum — not as a separate subject, but as a core element of language and literacy development, math, science, art, music and dramatic play. The nature-based curriculum supports the development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, creative and physical abilities. Most of all, we strive to teach children to love and value themselves and the world around them.

Riverbanks Nature Preschool encourages child-directed exploration and play in nature. Through play, students will learn to make sense of their world by exploring, solving problems and working with their peers and teachers. Riverbanks Nature Preschool teachers carefully create and prepare the learning environment to nurture children’s natural curiosity, and then provide the language, skills and tools for the students to make sense of the themes and concepts presented.

Differences Between Nature-based and Traditional Preschool

  • Nature is at the heart of the curriculum.
  • Daily time is spent outdoors in all weather (approximately half of the class time).
  • Hands-on and play-based learning.
  • Time is built in for children to observe, explore, discover and reflect in learning activities.

Questions About Riverbanks Nature Preschool?

Please call Amanda Segura at 803.602.0813 or email for more information.