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.
Open House sessions available on Friday, February 16 at 10:00am–12:00pm and Tuesday, February 20 at 12:00–1:30pm.
School Schedule and Fees
The preschool operates on a traditional school year schedule (September to May). Classes are held from 8:30 to 11:30 or 9:00 to noon, depending on the session chosen during registration. There are multiple enrollment options.
A non-refundable $150 fee is collected at the time of registration to secure your student’s enrollment.
|Tuition for Members||Monthly||Annually|
Students must be at least 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.
Registration for the 2024–2025 school year will begin for current families on Monday, February 5. Open registration starts Monday, February 26. Our registration process is first come, first serve. There is no pre-registration waitlist.
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.
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.
Important Dates for 2023–2024 School Year
|Sept 5||First day of school|
|Oct 13||No School|
|Nov 20–24||No School|
|Dec 18 – Jan 2||Winter Break|
|Feb 16||No school|
|Mar 29 – Apr 5||Spring Break|
|May 21||Last day of School (celebration in the evening)|