top of page

Our Outdoor Nursery Has A Unique Ethos

Riverside is a child-led private nursery just outside Bathgate, West Lothian and our approach is very different from a traditional nursery.  We work with a number of pedagogies but the way we do things is totally unique to Riverside.


Our practitioners do not get in (or lead) the way; instead, they are sensitively attuned to the children and their interests. They are there to guide, support and care in a patient and loving way. 


Why do we take this approach? We believe that children should learn through play and have real experiences (instead of being told the theory of cause and effect by an adult) in order to develop resilience and life skills! 


So you won’t find us forcing a child to do certain things, such as wear a jacket when it’s chilly but we will always suggest that they do so. We find that when a child has experienced cold they choose to wear one - and then we explain to them that they can choose to wear one before they get cold next time.  There are of course certain things that are non-negotiable surrounding the children’s safety.  A good example is sun cream; if you provide it and your child won’t wear it, we would discuss solutions with them, such as playing indoors, in the woodland or covering up - reaching a joint decision.


Something else we do here is to encourage ‘risky’ play. Riversiders climb trees, use real tools and paddle in the river - simple, ‘real life’ experiences which marry with the original vision for the nursery. 



Riverside is run Addi Addison and was set up by his partner Sharon Coyle in 2011. Sharon very sadly passed away soon after the nursery opened and Luke, her son, swapped his horticulture degree studies for Childhood Practice to ensure his mum’s vision was kept alive. 


Sharon wanted to create an idyll for children...a homely, family-style, wholesome environment in which to develop. That’s why the emphasis is on home-cooked food, a gentle approach and freedom to have fun.

Luke has begun a PhD: Frobel, sustainability and the early years and has handed over the management of Riverside to long-term staff member, Sarah Brown.

Riverside in 2020

We are proud to have won awards and accolades in our sector and have become a leader in outdoor learning in Scotland. In fact, our reputation is becoming global! Riverside is visited annually by international education experts and former manager Luke has spoken at international conferences and is now an associate lecturer at Edinburgh University. 


We agree with the education experts who state that immersion in natural environments makes a very positive contribution to children’s holistic development. We place high value in free play, which provides boundless learning opportunities in the early years - and children naturally learn by playing.  In doing so, they learn to negotiate, problem-solve, share and make decisions…and they also make and follow rules and learn to get along. We believe play should be directed by children, not adults.

bottom of page