Outdoor Education / Play
Riverdale's founder, Frank Hackett, believed that outdoor experiences are essential for children's physical, social, and emotional development. Children need unstructured time to explore nature, build confidence and physical strength, develop sensory awareness, and exercise their vibrant imaginations.
The eight-acre Lower School campus is an ideal setting for learning through play. A trained, full-time playworker sets up the outdoor play spaces with a range of open-ended materials that children can use as props for imaginary play or tools to engineer new ways of engaging with their environment. Children build forts, make mini-rivers, and create pretend rocket ships. They take risks, building confidence, while learning how to be responsible for their own safety and the safety of others. Working along with the faculty, the playworker encourages resourcefulness and independence while nurturing such character strengths as self-control and social intelligence.
Students have recess outdoors every day except in extreme weather. Recess time varies according to the age of the child and the season.
Learning Through Play
The Lower School's 8-acre campus is an important learning space and Alex Cote is there with intriguing open-ended materials that inspire problem-solving, creativity, and unique ways of relating to the surroundings. "Play is defined by the voices in children's minds," she says. "It's all learning, all the time."
Playing in the Outdoors
Playing and learning in the outdoors is an important part of every child's Riverdale experience at the Lower School.