Early Learning (Pre-K to Second Grade)

The Early Learning program encourages active learning through imaginative play and exploration. Literacy, math, and science fundamentals are introduced through hands-on projects inspired by nature and New York City. Classroom activities build character strengths, such as resilience, social intelligence, and self-control. Community relationships are valued and nurtured.

  • Pre-K has one class of 16 students. Beginning in kindergarten, each grade has three classes of about 20 students. Each class is taught by an experienced head teacher and assistant teacher.
  • Creative movement and wellness are taught in Pre-K through first grade. In Pre-K through second grade, art, music, library, Spanish, and PE are taught by specialists. 
  • Specialists in math and literacy work alongside classroom teachers to target the needs of individual students.
  • Two environmental educators work with Pre-K through second grade, leading nature walks in nearby Riverdale Park and Wave Hill, managing the school gardens, observing seasonal changes and life cycles, and identifying plants and wildlife.
  • A trained, full-time, playworker organizes "loose parts" on the playground to encourage imaginary play and creative problem solving. Students spend at least one recess period a day outdoors.
  • In first and second grade, students begin to establish themselves as digital citizens, learning to use iPads for learning with programs such as Pebble Go.

The Early Years

Rebecca Greller, director of Early Learning, describes how children develop in the first years at Riverdale.

Creative Thinking in First Grade

Natasha Schmemann, a first-grade teacher, describes how she encourages creativity in the classroom.

DIY In The Early Years

The traveling maker cart introduces Pre-K students to hand tools and problem-solving activities.

Nature Studies at Wave Hill

In a collaboration with Wave Hill, first graders do a year-long investigation of changes that occur within "one small square" on the Wave Hill grounds.

Field Trips

In Early Learning, children take field trips in connection with their study of nature and art.

Beginning in pre-kindergarten, children take nature walks in Riverdale Park, which runs alongside the Hudson River. In kindergarten, children make an annual trip to the Little Red Lighthouse. First graders do a yearlong study of seasonal changes in the woodlands of Wave Hill. 

Museum visits begin in first grade with trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters.  


Riverdale Country School

Mind • Character • Community



Lower School
1 Spaulding Lane
Bronx, NY 10471
LS: (718) 549-7780

Middle/Upper School
5250 Fieldston Road
Bronx, NY 10471
MS/US: (718) 549-8810

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Riverdale teaches students to become lifelong learners by fostering "growth" mindsets. Go There ><

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The River Campus offers a spacious, natural setting for our youngest students, inspiring learning and play. Go There >

Riverdale offers "STEAM" (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) teaching to Lower School students. Go There >

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Middle School students explore hands-on learning through the Riverdale Maker program. Go There >

Project Knowmad allows Middle Schoolers to learn in a different way, using NYC as their classroom. Go There >

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Riverdale teaches students to make connections through our interdisciplinary programs. Go There >

The club and activity program encourages students to explore their passions and try new things. Go There >

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About 80 percent of Upper School students participate in athletics. Go There >

Riverdale's Hill Campus has an indoor pool, football stadium, weight room, and 3 playing fields. Go There >

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Riverdale has entry points in Pre-K, Kindergarten, 6th, and 9th Grades. Visit our campus today. Go There >

Approximately 20 percent of Riverdale students receive some level of financial aid. Go There >

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Last year's Annual Fund totaled nearly $5 million in gifts from alumni, parents, and friends of the school. Go There >

Have you included Riverdale in your estate plans? Please let us know and join our expanding group of Hackett Planned Giving Society members today. Go There >

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