Sideways School
Sideways School


Sideways School views all children as creative, curious, and competent, and all play as purposeful! Through cooperative play and exploration in nature, with a small group of peers and loosely structured time, children in Sideways School develop the skills they need to thrive—in school and beyond! For ages 4–7.

Reviews (4)

  • Review from the Fall 2022 After School Survey

    Location: Prospect Park How old was your child during the Fall 2022 semester? 5 What kind of program is it? Social Skills Playgroup / Forrest School Review: The groups are max of 4 kids. Serena leads them into Prospect Park for two hours, no matter the weather. The kids decide where to go, what to do, and Serena allows them to work it out amongst themselves (as long as nobody is in danger of getting badly hurt of course!). The result is a LOT of real-world practice navigating conflicts and disagreements, but with so many very valuable triumphs and strong bonds. My son has made meaningful friendships in his time at SS. I'm also very happy that he has a chance to be active and creative out in the park every week for a long stretch. Serena is very thoughtful and observant and also very communicative; regularly offering check ins where we can hear about our son's experiences, challenges, victories, etc. Her approach is very effective in allowing the kids the space and time to work through things on their own, building invaluable social muscles. I highly recommend! What skills did your child develop? Communication, navigating conflicts and disagreements with peers, imaginative play, emotional intelligence.
  • Shout out to Sideways School

    I just wanted to very enthusiastically shout out Sideways School! My almost 5 year old daughter has been attending Sideways School weekly since March and I cannot say enough good things about her time in Sideways School with Serena and the other children. She gets unstructured, spontaneous, child led time in nature, which as a city kid, and especially now that she has started Kindergarten and is spending so many hours in school, she needs sooo much. The play is so imaginative! And even more importantly, she also gets the opportunity to explore all aspects of relationships and social interactions with support. What happens when the kids have different ideas of what area of the park to go to, or what game to play? Instead of an adult deciding, Serena supports them to figure out what they want to do, and where to go, how to play the game and in the process they learn how to listen to each other, share ideas, compromise, deal with disappointment, respond with empathy or excitement, regulate and express their emotions. It is such crucial learning!! It is so nice to see my daughter treated as capable, and see her respond capably. I have really seen my daughter blossom and mature in Serena’s care. She throws less tantrums, offers more ideas for solutions to problems at home, and she makes transitions to new or less familiar caregivers much easier. She is more confident in herself and it shows. And she bosses her friends around less, which is a huge change ;) Serena also shares photos and insights from each week, moments where the kids struggle and how they cope, moments where they are kind to each other, moments of delight in nature. It is a really special experience. I have no affiliation to Sideways School other than being a happy mum of a happy daughter who loves attending.
  • Shout out to Sideways School - Nature based, child-led play with social-emotional learning!

    I second this! Serena at Sideways School is awesome!
  • Feedback on Sideways School

    My son is just finishing up a term of Sideways with Serena. The whole experience was magical. She is excellent at facilitating a supportive and creative environment for the kids to learn and explore in nature and build social/emotional skills. I saw very visible growth in my 7-year-old son. She is very responsive to parents and gives thoughtful summaries of what the kids have been doing each session, with photos. I highly recommend.