Who says a classroom always has four walls?

Enrollment for 2021-22 opening February 1

Nature-Based 4K Partnership

Riveredge is proud to partner with the West Bend School District and the Kettle Moraine YMCA to offer a nature-based public 4K option for Southeast Wisconsin families, only the second such community based program in the state.

With a specific requirement that 75% of instructional time be nature-based, students are immersed in the natural world and have a classroom that extends far beyond four walls. While the 4K meets at the YMCA's location at Holy Trinity in Newburg, students spend the day outside at Riveredge at least twice a week.

Find out more about the program, the enrollment process (this opportunity is not limited to West Bend families!), and what parents of current students think about the program below!  

The West Bend School District’s 4K and 5K enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year begins on Monday, February 8. For the first time, enrollment can be completed online at home or at the WBSD’s Education Service Center. The 4K Parent Night for the 2021-2022 school year will be a virtual event at 6:00pm on Thursday, January 14. This event provides a great opportunity for families to learn more about the West Bend School District’s community-based 4-year-old kindergarten program. 

West Bend YMCA 4k Rainbow OkiWear

Why Nature-Based?

Imagine a preschool where children go on outdoor adventures every day to explore acres of forests and wetlands under the careful watch of teachers but are free to learn from what they themselves discover and enjoy. Imagine a preschool where children may tap a sugar maple, catch a frog, follow animal tracks in the snow, or plant a garden during their class time. Imagine a preschool where children are prepared for kindergarten through a daily commitment to explore, discover, experiment, create, share and play.

Research has shown that time in nature is essential to our children’s health; yet, the average kindergartner has watched more than 5,000 hours of TV by age five, which is more than enough hours to earn a college degree (Experience Life Magazine). At the same time, the research shows a myriad of benefits to young children learning and spending time outside, including:

  • Health benefits: increased physical activity, more Vitamin D, less vision problems growing up
  • Mental benefits: time outside linked to decrease in ADHD symptoms, overall increase in attention spans, lower stress
  • Academic benefits: schools with environmental education programs show higher math, reading, and writing scores among students and an increase in critical-thinking

The program features hands-on, child-centered opportunities for learning through exploration and discovery in rich outdoor settings. Through a wide variety of seasonally appropriate experiences, children develop a strong connection with the natural world and build fundamental skills needed to prepare them for kindergarten.

Enrollment information

This community-based 4K program is free for families who reside in the West Bend School District, and nonresidents can open enroll if the community they reside in has a public 4K program. The YMCA will provide on-site care before and after class.

The West Bend School District’s 4K and 5K enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year begins on Monday, February 8. For the first time, enrollment can be completed online at home or at the WBSD’s Education Service Center. 

Families who are not currently enrolled in the West Bend School District’s 4K program can enroll their students for kindergarten (5K) for the 2021-2022 school year beginning February 1. This can be completed online. 

General Information on 4K
Learn more about 4K at the West Bend School District, including a list of community partner sites, frequently asked questions, and the 20-21 Family Handbook. In addition, view videos on each partner site.

Please note: Early enrollment (prior to February 8) will be timestamped at 12:00 p.m. on February 8 as site requests are honored on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Enrollment is handled through the West Bend School District. For all the information on enrollment and the forms that you will need to fill out, please see the School District's website. They also have a very detailed Frequently Asked Question page for prospective families!


"I became involved with Riveredge a few months ago when my daughter started her 4-K program there. She has always been a very active individual but has had trouble focusing on learning and tasks. I was concerned about how her 4-K experience would go for her. She loves the program and cannot wait for the weekend to be over so she can go back to Riveredge. We have been to several programs and the way her face lights up when she is there and how she engages in conversation about what she is learning is amazing. I have never seen her so excited about anything before."

"You have done an exceptional job with this program. The teachers at Riveredge have been phenomenal. The program has far exceeded my expectations! In fact, I am quite nervous about his transition to Kindergarten (which is not nature based)!"

"My daughter has grown so much already both socially, mentally and in her ability to be independent. She comes home and talks about things that she is learning that amaze me each day. I feel her enrollment in 4K has brought her to a level that she never would have reached outside of the classroom. 

"My daughter is fascinated by nature, so allowing her to learn in that environment has been wonderful. I love seeing the pictures of all the things the kids are doing outside during the week. In my opinion, every child should have the opportunity to participate in a program like this and should have the benefit of getting out and being in the fresh air as much as possible."

"Absolutely love everything about this 4K program! Not only is my child learning about reading and counting and letters, she's also learning about animals and seasons!"

"I cannot say enough good things about this program. I feel so blessed that my child is able to be a part of it. I love that my daughter is learning things that will help her advance and prepare for elementary school and, above all, I love the independence and confidence she has gained."

"The nature-based program is excellent. It offers my child the opportunity to learn and experience things that are not available to the average student who spends all of his or her time in a classroom."