Understanding New York Schools: A Parent’s Guide

Understanding New York Schools: A Parent’s Guide

Understanding New York Schools: A Parent’s Guide

Every parent wants the best for their child and a key aspect is education. But in a state with many types of schools, the options can seem endless and can boggle the most organized parent. Each school has its unique opportunities, so it’s a matter of finding what works best for your family. That’s why we put together this guide to simplify navigating the school search for your child. Read on to find out what each school offers and terms you should know as you research and tours!

Public Schools:

What They Are: Public schools are open to all students if they meet local residency requirements. 

Tuition: The schools are free to all students. 

What They Offer: Public schools are typically larger than the average private school. They offer a wide range of AP and IB courses for your child. as well as a variety of sports and extracurricular activities. These schools not only provide an opportunity for personal growth but for your child to make friends who live nearby within your community. Public schools also have several special education and multilingual learning programs to make education accessible to everyone.  

Charter Schools:

What They Are: Charter Schools are independently operated public schools for advancing student achievement. They serve about 15% of NYC’s public school children.

Tuition: Charter schools are free to all students. 

What They Offer: Charter schools also offer all students an equal chance of being enrolled with a lottery system of choosing prospective students. Charter schools are independent from the NYC Department of Education and can be closed if they don’t meet certain student achievement standards. However, being independent from DOE gives these schools a chance to explore methods of teaching and learning beyond the DOE standards. 


Private Schools:

What They Are: Private schools are an independent organization run by private entities. 

Tuition: These schools are funded through charging tuition and receiving donations from alumni and the student’s parents. Even if tuition seems expensive, do not worry! These schools offer financial-aid programs and many different scholarships to assist with tuition costs. 

What They Offer: Despite the smaller size of these schools, the teachers at private schools can provide more 1:1 help, make classes more student-focused, and give their students more responsibility. Private schools also offer state-of-the-art facilities, incredible resources, and opportunities through their alumni network.  


Boarding Schools:

What They Are: Boarding schools provide a learning community where students live within the premises and have more rigorous requirements to prepare them for life after school. There are several boarding schools in and near NY state. 

Tuition: Boarding schools are afforded through tuition and are more expensive than typical private schools because tuition includes meals, housing, educational costs, and more. However, they still offer financial aid to students to make the cost more affordable.

What They Offer: Boarding schools offer a wide array of types to consider for your child’s exact needs. These schools include college preparatory, military, fine arts, sports, religious, therapeutic, and junior. They also have smaller class sizes allowing more teacher-student connection, a safe environment with an immersive community, and a heightened focus on developing your child to be ready for life after school.


Bilingual Schools:

What They Are: Bilingual schools are designed to teach students two languages and the students become fully immersed in both languages. 

Tuition: Bilingual schools also have tuition costs, and they can cost around the same as the average private school.

What They Offer: Bilingual schools are unique because they teach everything in two languages. Your child will not only be immersed in another language but another culture, which will encourage a diverse, global perspective. NY bilingual schools include the following languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Yiddish.


Catholic Schools:

What They Are: Catholic schools are pre-primary through secondary institutions under the aegis or in association with the Catholic Church. 

Tuition: These schools charge tuition and the cost can be lower than typical private schools. 

What They Offer: Catholic schools excel in education and many have outperformed NY public schools in performance growth. However, these schools offer much more than education. Community is the foundation and students feel like family to the teachers and staff. 



What They Offer: Daycare is high-quality childcare that keeps children safe and healthy. Nurseries are schools that offer education to children up to age 4.

Tuition: Daycare for ages 3-5 can average around $12,000-23,000 per year, compared to nurseries which can charge around $16,000 per year. However, costs vary greatly and much of this depends on the schedule you choose. Thankfully there are fantastic daycare and nursery options in New York to consider. 

What They Offer: These institutions aim to provide supervision and childcare for parents while they work. Parents who send their children to daycares and nurseries often find their children have improved language development, developed increased cognitive abilities, and form better relationships with peers. There are many types of daycares in NY, ranging from part-time to full-time care, infant to toddler care, and even in-home daycares that are run from the personal home of a child care provider. So be sure to ask about the number of days per week, age range, caregiver-to-child ratio, and more!  


Terms To Know:

NY education can get very confusing. It can feel overwhelming when you’re on a school tour and lots of terms are being thrown around. Here are some terms to know as you embark on your school search. 

District: A geographical unit for the local administration of elementary or secondary schools. This is the large area on the map that holds many zones within itself.

Zone: The roadways immediately adjacent to the school. This is the small area outlining the school on the map.

Gifted & Talented: Programs for high-performing students with accelerated curriculums and rigorous instructional strategies. Students may begin to apply from kindergarten to third grade and must pass tests to be eligible. 

Specialized: There are 9 specialized high schools for NYC’s highest-performing students. 8 schools require students in 8th or 9th grade to perform exceptionally well on the Specialized High School Admission Test, only offered one weekend in the fall. The other has a competitive audition.

Technically Focused: Student’s work towards a Regents Diploma in a specialized skill focused on a “hands-on” career skill. Such programs focus on skills such as film, engineering, and construction, and offer students job shadowing to gain work experience.

Individualized Education Program: An evaluation of the student’s needs for special needs care. Families work with the DOE to set academic goals and ensure the correct accommodations are made for their child. 

Special Education: Special needs students have specific accommodations made for them with their families and the DOE. NY public schools have individualized programs for families of kids with special needs, but you can also seek a private school. 

Dual Language: Also known as dual immersion instruction, students will develop academic skills in their own language while building those skills in another language. This instruction aims to add a new language for students while not extinguishing a minority language.

Alternative High School: Schools for students aged 15-21. These schools serve as an opportunity for students behind on credits or those who have dropped out to catch up and graduate.

Young Adult Borough Centers: These centers offer evening classes. They are designed for students with adult responsibilities during the daytime.

Montessori: The Montessori method is a unique way of teaching that develops children’s independence, initiative, and citizenship. Education is adjusted to each student’s interests and needs. There are lots of Montessori schools in and near NY, even preschools and daycares for early education. 

Common Core: NY state preschool-12th grade internationally benchmarked and evidence-based standards. The standards are a set of expectations for what students should learn and be able to do at each grade level. 


AECI 1 – NYC Charter High School for Architecture, Engineering & Construction Industries 

646 Brook Avenue, Bronx 



AECI 1 offers a rigorous academic program that provides students with a foundation of necessary skills, knowledge and experience to pursue college and/or career in architecture, engineering or construction industries. The school prepares students for success in industry-recognized exams. All students receive double periods of math and ELA in freshman year to prepare for success. Staff works to develop the whole child by supporting all academic, emotional and social development. AECI has a variety of sports teams to instill teamwork, confidence and leadership.


AECI 2 – New York Charter High School for Computer Engineering & Innovation 

424 E. 138th St., Bronx 



The mission at AECI 2 is to create a rigorous college-prep program with the necessary skills, knowledge and practical experience to pursue college and/or a career in computer, engineering or innovation industries. AECI2 emphasizes science and math, effective communication and critical thinking skills through a standards-based curriculum while offering classes like Intro to Computer Science, Coding, Circuit Design and 3-D Printing. They also have sports teams, after-school activities and student clubs. 


Atmosphere Academy

6th & 7th Grade: Marble Hill Avenue

8th Grade: 3700 Independence Avenue 

9th & 10th Grade: 5959 Broadway


Atmosphere Academy, a free public charter middle and high school, was named a Recognition School by the New York State Education Department in 2020 (one of only a few charter schools to earn this honor). Through the creation of a highly engaging school setting, Atmosphere Academy not only prepares students to be ready for college, career, and life, but to succeed once they get there.  Join an upcoming Open House or apply today!


Hudson Country Montessori School 

340 Quaker Ridge Road, New Rochelle, NY


[email protected]

Hudson Country Montessori School inspires and promotes innate curiosity and a love of learning through its progressive Montessori pedagogy. HCMS also strives to help children grow into respectful, socially-adept and compassionate leaders. The curriculum empowers students to become independent, creative thinkers and confident achievers. Private, co-educational school, toddlers (18 months) through 8th grade. Schedule a private tour today!



Explore Schools 

Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Canarsie 

718- 989-6730


Explore Schools of Brooklyn has committed to the charge of providing students with the academic skills and critical thinking abilities they need to succeed in a college preparatory high school. With 6 school sites, they serve students in grades Kindergarten through 8 across central Brooklyn, NY.  Their curriculum is aligned to the common core, they are committed to creating a culturally responsive program, and provide special education services. Their academic program is strong, as more of their students perform proficient or higher on NYS Exams than other city and district public schools. Nearly 90% of their students have graduated to a college preparatory high school across New York City! Now Enrolling for the current and upcoming school year. Visit exploreschools.org/enroll for more information or apply now.


Montessori Day School of Brooklyn

237 Park Place

Brooklyn, NY 11238

718- 398-2322


A warm and welcoming community serving children ages two to five. At MDS, they encourage every child’s natural curiosity and readiness to learn and create a nurturing and fun atmosphere that promotes independence and self-esteem, and creates life-long learners. They work to ensure that our school community is as richly diverse as the city we live in. Their tuition assistance program provides access to an MDS education for all children. The deadline to apply for the 2023/2024 school year is December 31st, 2022. Please reach out with any questions about admissions for the coming school year.


Prospect Schools

Locations throughout Brooklyn



Prospect Schools is a K-12 college preparatory community where excellent teachers prepare a diverse student body to have a positive impact on society and a lifelong passion for learning. Founded by teachers in 2009, Prospect Schools is an IB world school community that has achieved outstanding results for an incredibly diverse student body. The guiding principle behind Prospect is a re-imagination of elementary, middle, and high school education with the purpose of giving students a lifelong passion for learning and setting them up to thrive in a global community. The network’s three key commitments are Diversity— racial, socioeconomic, ethnic and linguistic, World Class Academics, and Excellent Teaching.


Red Hook Playgroup

295 Columbia St, Brooklyn


[email protected].

Red Hook Playgroup is a progressive, preschool on Columbia Street, a convenient location for Columbia Waterfront, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook families. They provide a rich, creative community based early education for children between ages 2 and 5. Their curriculum draws inspiration from both the Montessori and Reggio Emilia approaches; their year long investigations and materials-based focus are unique. At the core of their approach is the question: What is most important to these children, in this place, at this time? What unfolds is completely unique from year to year. Tuition assistance is available. To register for the 2023-2024 school year, sign up for a tour here or email us at [email protected].



Bard College at Simon’s Rock

Great Barrington, MA 01230


[email protected]


Bard College at Simon’s Rock is the only college in the country designed for

students ready to enter college early and begin working on their BA degree

after the 10th or 11th grade. Simon’s Rock offers a liberal arts and sciences curriculum, taught by supportive faculty who are leading scholars in their field. The College grants degrees in more  than 35 majors.


Corlears School

324 West 15th Street



[email protected]

At Corlears School, students from toddlers through fifth grade are given the foundation they need to fall in love with learning. Since 1968, Corlears has been one of the few schools in NYC focused exclusively on the early years of education, because the start of your child’s academic life should be nothing short of exceptional! Corlears is a progressive, nonprofit, independent elementary school located in Chelsea. Now accepting applications for 2023–24.


The IDEAL School of Manhattan

314 West 91st Street, New York


[email protected]


A Small School That’s Big on Inclusion.The IDEAL School of Manhattan is New York’s only K-12+ independent inclusion school. Students thrive in a diverse and nurturing learning community where a robust academic program teaches them to recognize their potential to effect change and helps them gain the tools to do so as they advocate for themselves and stand behind others, seeking out difference and understanding that community is the IDEAL. Relocating to 5 Hanover Square in summer 2023.


The Montessori School of New York International

347 E. 55th St., Sutton Place, Manhattan



A multi-faceted program that inspires curiosity and a love of learning! Classes are equipped with didactic Montessori materials that encourage absorption of concepts through play and exploration, leading children to become well-rounded and confident. Program includes science, music, foreign languages, field trips, gymnastics, dance, yoga, chess, and cultural events! Extended hours for working parents – Summer Day Camp available.



Channel View School for Research

100-00 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park, NY 11694



contact:Michelle Legere 

[email protected]

All Channel View School for Research students graduate as well-educated, involved citizens who have a love for learning that enables them to embrace their future with confidence, using the lifelong strategies they acquire at our school. 99% of all students, including students with disabilities and English language learners, graduate in 4 years. 100% of students are accepted into college, technical/trade school, or the military.


Gotham Tech High School (Q417)

28-01 41st Avenue

Long Island City, NY 11101



Gotham Tech is an open, welcoming, and culturally affirming community using Robotics and challenge-based learning to develop students’ mindsets and skills for problems that matter. Gotham Tech is a four-year, unscreened, 9-12 tech-based high school founded by NYC First Stem and Robotics League. Graduates will engage in joyful and meaningful learning, think deeply and critically, and grow emotionally and socially. Visit their website today for more information.


The Kew-Forest School 

119-17 Union Turnpike Forest Hills, NY 11375 

718 268-4667 

[email protected] 


At The Kew-Forest School, you will find a community that nurtures lifelong learners, educators who inspire young people, and students who support each other. Established in 1918, Kew-Forest is the oldest independent co-ed, college preparatory school in Queens for students in Preschool through Grade 12. For more info, visit kewforest.org.


The Renaissance Charter School 2

45-20 83rd Street, Elmhurst, NY (CSD 24)

917- 242-3505


The Renaissance Charter School 2 offers students a dedicated learning experience. Their innovative programs will help students become life-long learners and global citizens. They are

currently accepting applications for the school year 2022-2033 for grades Kindergarten through

third grade. TRCS 2 is located near the Elmhurst stop of the M/R train station and Q53 bus. Call 917-242-3505 to join their community or visit rencharters.org/trcs-elmhurst for more information.



A Child’s Dream

10 Mill Road, New Rochelle



A Child’s Dream goal is to create a secure and structured environment where your child will enjoy socializing and interacting with other children while learning. The curriculum includes, Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, Developing Motor and Social Skills. They offer Morning Sessions from 9am-11:30am for 2 and 3 year olds and 9am-12PM for 4 year olds. They also offer an afternoon session. Lunch Bunch and Enrichment Classes Available; Art, Soccer and Movement. Now Registering for the 2023/2024 school year!


Hudson Country Montessori School 

340 Quaker Ridge Road, New Rochelle, NY


[email protected]

Hudson Country Montessori School inspires and promotes innate curiosity and a love of learning through its progressive Montessori pedagogy. HCMS also strives to help children grow into respectful, socially-adept and compassionate leaders. The curriculum empowers students to become independent, creative thinkers and confident achievers. Private, co-educational school, toddlers (18 months) through 8th grade. Schedule a private tour today!


John Cardinal O’Connor School

16 North Broadway, Irvington



[email protected]

The John Cardinal O’Connor School is a Catholic school dedicated to providing an affordable,language-based,academic curriculum for children in grades K-8 with mild Learning Disabilities (LD), Speech or Language Impairments (SPL), or other Health Impairments (OHI).

Students are taught by certified special education teachers in small classes. Teachers utilize multisensory instructional techniques to help children succeed academically and socially.


Kehillah School for Early Learning

1000 Pinebrook Boulevard, New Rochelle NY 10804 

914- 637-3808 

[email protected] 


Temple Israel’s Kehillah School provides care for children ages 6 weeks through Kindergarten Preparation, using Reggio Emilia approach to education.

Our educational objective is to provide our children with a love of learning, a forum for curiosity, respect for individual spirit, and a foundation of Jewish ethics, morals, and values. We offer a developmentally appropriate curriculum, which balances emergent and child-initiated approaches to learning through play, utilizing authentic experiences with nature, the arts, and music to nurture the whole child.

Contact the Kehillah School Director, Jen Pennucci, to schedule a tour of our conveniently located Westchester location.


Montessori Children’s Center (MCC) 

220 Westchester Ave., West Harrison


[email protected]


Award-winning, year-round, full-time Montessori childcare facility, The Montessori Children’s Center (MCC) offers authentic Montessori

programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, ages 3 months to 5 years old. Montessori-certified head teachers and well-trained, supervised staff provide excellent care and the highest quality Montessori education. Breakfast, two snacks, and milk are included in tuition. Hot lunch is available. Looking for a great place to work? We have openings if you’d like to join our team for a fun and satisfying career in early education! Hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm. Call Today to meet with our beloved Director, K.T. Korngold.


Montessori School of Pelham Manor      

1415 Pelhamdale Avenue, Bronx, New York


[email protected]


Upholding a “tradition of excellence” for over 36 years, this school firmly holds to the principles of child development devised by Dr. Maria Montessori. Children ages 3 to 5 work with apparatus in a prepared environment progressing at their own rate, developing the confidence and love of learning that is the hallmark of Montessori. Our small class sizes make it easy for our instructors to find out how to best cater to your child’s unique learning needs. Prepare your child for a lifetime of learning.


Thornton-Donovan School  

100 Overlook Circle, New Rochelle



Thornton-Donovan, a boutique-like K – 12 school in a bucolic-like setting, continues to offer education in the old-fashioned way.  Its five homes, located on five acres, are all loaded with tech, and its small class size average of 10, makes it very much like home schooling.  T-D is a K-12 120 year-old independent and international day school with a tuition of $25,000.00. OPEN HOUSE: Thursday December 1st, 6:30 – 8:30PM & Saturday December 3rd, 2:00 – 4:00PM.

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