Children leave Running River with the skills to use their hands to work and live, their hearts to connect and contemplate, and their minds to organize, analyze, solve and communicate.

Experiential, Meaningful, Real-Life Learning

“Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.”
— Chinese Proverb

Nothing is fully learned until it is experienced and found to be meaningful. Running River immerses children in a personally meaningful, experiential approach to academics. Starting in second grade, we use project-based learning to integrate and apply academics. Students readily develop academic skills when they engage in projects of their choosing, projects that reflect their own interests and passions.

Students at Running River learn from and with others; acquire new information and test it out; are allowed to make mistakes; and persevere with an in-depth, multi-faceted process that uses both imagination and intellect.

In-depth, Integrated Academics

“No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it. We need to see the world anew.”
  — Albert Einstein

In real life, everything is interconnected. One of our aims is helping children understand life as a whole process. In most schools, learning is fragmented into separate academic categories, with no unifying focus or interweaving thread. Running River works to connect all subjects with a yearly theme that integrates math, science, history, reading, writing and the arts. Through this process they develop minds capable of penetrating to the essence of a subject – its purpose, use, and connections with all other subjects.

Children also study the theme from every angle, developing skills necessary to learn about subjects in depth, from the details to the bigger picture. This micro/macro perspective shift is the natural way for children to learn. Running River leaves no stone unturned when it comes to exploring children’s longing to understand and connect to what they are learning. Rather than being satisfied accepting simple answers, we want our students to enter adult life with the yearning and skills to fully understand the world in which they live. This process provides an in-depth, tangible experience that can be applied to all learning endeavors. Children become personally responsible for acquiring knowledge, more confident to meet challenges, and competent to learn with depth and breadth. In the end, this kind of learning is a model of how all discoveries are made and problems solved. This is the true joy of learning.

For our yearly theme, we begin with an essential question. For example: What is food? The class brainstorms the essential question to begin an in-depth, multi-faceted exploration into food. They employ all possible resources: books, computers, media, experts, field trips and hands-on experience. Theme time might include: learning to cook; studying the history and origins of different foods (starting with what we harvest from our garden and local farms in the fall); managing a budget and learning to shop; studying nutrition and chemistry; using math to calculate meals; reading literature that relates to food; interviewing organic farmers; planting and harvesting food; building a cold frame/greenhouse, depicting food in art; learning songs about food; and practicing mindful eating. The theme attempts to combine all academic areas and learning life skills.