We are a school-family

Building authentic connections…

Our Mission
To nurture a school-family where children, teachers, and parents are collaborators in creating a process-based learning environment rooted in authentic connections with one another, with beautiful materials, and with the natural world, and where each individual is truly known and valued.

Our Philosophy
We view children as complete and capable individuals, with the right to develop their own educational experiences alongside their teachers. We encourage them to be actively engaged in problem solving and critical thinking and to find their own unique voices in a supportive, caring environment. This philosophy is based on the theories of constructivist thinkers such as John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Jean Piaget and Howard Gardner, whose work helped inspire the Reggio Emilia approach. We are also inspired by forest schools, outdoor education and making connections with and between art and nature.

Our Values
Community: A strong, supportive community is essential to developing eager, confident learners. We believe learning happens best through shared experiences, and with adults and children working side by side. We require that parents and families be actively involved in our school by serving on committees and attending community work days and meetings. We also hold many social and educational gatherings throughout the year.

Nature and Time Outdoors: We believe nature is an important tool in the cognitive, emotional and social development of children.  The outdoors is our primary classroom. We spend the majority of our school day every day in our expansive meadows and play yards, which feature  outdoor classroom spaces,  large sand and mud pits, vegetable and butterfly gardens and hill that’s perfect for rolling in warmer months and sledding in colder ones! When the children do come inside, they are welcomed into homelike surroundings filled with authentic, high quality materials and a nature inspired aesthetic.


Diversity and Inclusion:

The Eastern Ridge School is a community that welcomes and celebrates children, families, and teachers in all their backgrounds and identities. Our small community is notably diverse in its representation of cultural heritages from across the globe, a microcosm of the cultural diversity of the DC metropolitan area. We actively strive to create an environment where kindness and respect are the foundation for how children learn to relate to one another, and this is modeled in the way that teachers interact with children and with each other. Our actions and our attitudes reflect our respect for each individual, and we are mindful that our language, our materials, and our policies reflect inclusion regardless of gender, race, religion, or family composition.

Respect: We are respectful of children and value their perspectives. Viewing children as competent and capable creates a compassionate, accepting environment where they are free to express themselves and develop their own unique views. We recognize the “hundred languages of children,” referring to the many different ways children have of expressing themselves, including drawing, sculpture, building, dramatic play and writing.

Unstructured play: Unstructured play is critical to supporting children’s ability to develop their own potential and individual interests. Our program offers plenty of time for open-ended play with a range of open-ended materials. We believe this time to play, investigate, and negotiate is the foundation for the natural emergence of children’s development across all modalities; they find their expressive voices, learn to integrate input from all of their senses, and develop problem-solving and social emotional skills.

Project-based learning:  We “learn by doing.” Project-based learning is experiential.  It allows for deep exploration of topics such as math, science and language arts and develops critical thinking, collaborative skills, creativity and communication skills. The children are engaged in learning because projects emerge from their interests and questions, giving them ownership and investment in the process.  We do not impose themes or academic lessons, but our rich environment invites investigations through which exposure to and skills in the academic realm are natural by-products, geared to the developmental readiness of each individual.