ourapproach

Our Approach

Children

We believe children are strong, capable, resilient, rich with wonder and knowledge, and possess deep curiosity and potential. This curiosity drives their interests as they construct their own learning to understand the world and their place within it. From the day they are born children systematically and intentionally explore their environment. This never has to end. Their curiosity has the potential to carry them through as life-long learners.

Belonging is essential. With a strong focus on social collaboration, each child is an equal participant in community, having thoughts and questions valued, and in turn, learning to value the thoughts and questions of others. Children practice skills of self-advocacy, empathy, and compassion. We foster a community of learners.

Teachers

We believe teachers are not the givers of knowledge. The search for knowledge is undertaken together as co-learners. We observe the students, listen to their questions and stories, find what interests them, and then provide opportunities to support and explore those interests further. We may ask purposeful questions to further the exploration, and at the close of day ask thoughtful questions to encourage reflective conversations that help process and solidify learning while listening for new ways to extend their interests.

Learning Environment

Our learning locations offer many opportunities. At our in-town classroom at Greenspace (the former Lewisburg High School), learning is integrated into the larger Lewisburg community where we tap into resources and partnerships for the arts, history, service, and practical living skills. In-town activities are structured to complement the children's interests.

At Wild Goose Farm, the children are immersed in nature, experiencing its rhythms, seasons, beauty, and mystery. In this natural environment, children explore, investigate, test, write, play, and solve problems. There is an intelligence here to which children can connect. It is a place for deep, meaningful learning and play.

Curriculum

Inspired by Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf principles, children at River Valley Nature School are guided through developmentally appropriate hands-on learning experiences that include nature observation, gardening, nature journaling, art with natural materials and pigments, preparing a weekly communal meal, building structures in nature, and more. Through these real-life experiences, children build and practice literacy, math, science, social, and emotional and motor skills, with nurturing teachers as their guides and facilitators. In-town learning emphasizes the development of life skills such as learning to safely navigate town, use the post office, and buy goods at a shop. Through these experiences, children progress academically while continuing to develop their natural curiosity and joy for learning.
child hiding behind tree stump panseys hand on tree