Character and community
Character education is an essential part of the curriculum and co-curriculum. In kindergarten, students are introduced to character strengths as they discuss strategies for managing their emotions, solving problems, and getting along with others. Teachers welcome mistakes, praise effort, and encourage risk-taking as ways of building independence and confidence. In third grade, students choose a personalized "passion project," paving the way for independent work in fourth and fifth grade.
While the development of self-awareness and independence is nurtured, Riverdale also teaches children how to be engaged members of their community by emphasizing written, oral, digital, visual, and quantitative communication skills; cultural fluency, adaptability, and empathy; and collaboration with diverse teams.
The importance of community can be seen throughout the Lower School. The daily morning meeting allows time for discussion of character and community as it relates to current events. Daily routines require teamwork and collaboration. In kindergarten and first grade, children study the Riverdale community and how they can make a difference to others. The buddy program, which pairs an older class with a younger class, creates friendships across the grades and contributes to a cohesive and supportive culture. Environmental education includes composting and recycling, responsibilities that the students take on in the lunchroom every day.
Issues related to equity and justice are introduced in bi-weekly, all-school assemblies, and discussed further in home base. Diverse communities and cultures are celebrated in assemblies, special lunch menus, and building displays, and discussed further in home base.