Education

Upper West Side Preschools in NYC: Find the Best for Your Kids

kids playing with blocks

Starting your first year of school is definitely an important one! That is why we have done the research for you on Upper West Side preschools. Scroll through and find the best fit for you and your child.

If the Upper West Side is not what you are looking for, take a look at our other preschool guides: Downtown Preschool Guide, French Preschool Guide, and Brooklyn Preschool Guide.

Upper West Side−50s:

ESTHER ASHKENAS CENTRAL PARK EARLY LEARNING CENTER

Ages 3-5
450 West 56th Street
Philosophy: Accommodating
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “A significant portion of our population are students with developmental delays. A majority of our students come to us through the Board of Education evaluation process with individual education plans. The goal of Central Park Early Learning Center is to provide an educational environment with supportive services to ensure children are ready for kindergarten.”
Noteworthy: “Our goal in placing children is to look at a child’s strengths and provide services and instruction for developmental areas that need support. Our motto is that all children should be challenged but not overwhelmed in our learning environment. Throughout our day we incorporate activities in pre-academic areas along with alternating motor activities such as bikes, wagons and scooters, and obstacle courses.” schools.ahrcnyc.org

Upper West Side—60s:

THE ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL SCHOOL

Ages 3-Grade 12
30 West End Avenue
Philosophy: Inquiry-based
Religious Affiliation: Jewish
In Their Own Words: “We stimulate children’s curiosity and encourage them to ask questions, take risks in learning, and solve problems. We also support the children’s developing social skills and their emerging independence. We create an atmosphere that invites children to observe, to be active, and to make choices.”
Noteworthy: “We develop our most powerful themes from Jewish and American holidays, family and community, and nature. During the year, additional themes emerge which reflect the interests of a class. In this way we combine cultural identity, fields of knowledge, and an expanded view of the world.” heschel.org

THE DAY SCHOOL AT CHRIST & ST. STEPHEN’S

Ages 2-4
122 West 69th Street
Philosophy: Inquiry-based
Religious Affiliation: Episcopal
In Their Own Words: “It is our goal to provide children with skills that will push them beyond traditional learning and promote dynamic thinking that results in children who don’t want to just know that something happens; they want to know how it happens, why it happens and when they can apply it and experience it for themselves.”
Noteworthy: “Chapel is led by the parish clergy and is held weekly in the side chapel of the church. Chapel services focus on the unique worth and beauty of each child as a creation of a loving, empowering God, as well as the ethical and moral values that flow from that belief. Diversity and inclusiveness, hallmarks of our Episcopal tradition, are part of Chapel services and an appreciation of other faith traditions is fostered.” thedayschoolatcss.org

DWIGHT SCHOOL 

Age 2-Grade 12
144 Riverside Boulevard
Philosophy: Academic
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “At Dwight, we believe that every student is unique. Our goal is to create world leaders through academic excellence but also to develop every student’s passion through an individualized strategic approach. We are committed to providing personalized learning for all of our students, allowing them to immerse themselves in a comprehensive range of subjects.”
Noteworthy: “Dwight’s Early Childhood Division offers the Primary Years Program (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate. The PYP is a rich and stimulating curriculum that is designed to generate an enthusiasm for lifelong learning. Children are challenged to think, create, ask questions, take risks, and discover new things in a happy and nurturing environment.” dwight.edu

ETHICAL CULTURE FIELDSTON SCHOOL

Age 4-Grade 12
33 Central Park West (Lower School)
Philosophy: Progressive
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Progressive education is rooted in experiential, hands-on learning where the classroom functions as a laboratory and New York City serves as a classroom… At ECFS, we recognize and celebrate the importance of critical thinking and inquiry in addition to the acquisition of knowledge.”
Noteworthy: “Academic excellence is evidenced in the daily expectation that children do their best and take responsibility for their own work. We help our students develop goals that acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses and give them encouragement to compensate for the latter while building on the former.” ecfs.org

HUDSONWAY IMMERSION SCHOOL

Age 2-Grade 5
175 Riverside Boulevard
Philosophy: International
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “At a young age, students begin to learn a second language naturally through routines and social and emotional skills development. This early exposure creates a solid foundation in listening comprehension and speaking, enabling ever higher fluency levels as elementary students.”
Noteworthy: “Starting in fall 2014, we will enable students entering grades 1-4 without prior exposure to Mandarin an opportunity to transition into our mainstream immersion classrooms through the Elementary Integration Program. This curriculum provides additional individualized and dynamic support to ease the integration throughout the year.” hwis.org

THE NURSERY SCHOOL AT HABONIM

Ages 2-6
103 West End Avenue (at West 64th Street)
Philosophy: Play-based
Religious Affiliation: Jewish
In Their Own Words: “The goal of the Nursery School of Habonim is to promote the well-being and development of each child. We wish to foster self-esteem, confidence, basic trust, and a strong sense of community. We believe that children learn best through an early childhood curriculum that is based on creative and constructive, child centered, developmentally appropriate activities and purposeful play.”
Noteworthy: “The school recently moved to this brand new, bright, airy, location on West End Avenue. There is a warm, welcoming atmosphere that you will feel as you walk through the door. They do a school-wide assembly every Friday called “Rock Shabbat” including the Cantor, Rabbi, and Nursery School Director on guitar and drums. There has also been an expansion of the program activities to include babies and toddlers in Movement, Music, Soccer, and Yoga.” habonim.net

STEPHEN WISE FREE SYNAGOGUE EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER

Ages 1-5
30 West 68th Street
Philosophy: Reggio Emilia
Religious Affiliation: Jewish
In Their Own Words: “We take an interdisciplinary approach to learning, where children’s interests are integrated into all areas of the curriculum. For example, a class that is interested in trees might be encouraged to paint pictures of trees they have seen in Central Park, read books about trees that grow in the rainforest, sway like trees in the wind during movement time, plant seedlings in the rooftop garden and cook with fruit that grow on trees.”
Noteworthy: “Jewish identity is important to our philosophy. We work to infuse Jewish values into everyday life as well as finding meaningful ways to celebrate Shabbat and holidays.” ecc.swfs.org

WEST SIDE YMCA CO-OP NURSERY SCHOOL

Ages 2.5-5
5 West 63rd Street
Philosophy: Play-based
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “At the Co-op Nursery, we value each child’s unique personality and temperament. Children need time to explore, experiment and play in their own way. Our daily program includes free-choice activities, outdoor play, group time, story time and music time. In addition to plenty of open-ended play, there are several special projects or activities daily including cooking, science, art and field trips.”
Noteworthy: “Children and parents enjoy recreational and educational opportunities throughout the YMCA, including use of one of the two pools, which are kept at a temperature comfortable for children; and gym, music and science classes. The children play outdoors on the rooftop playground or in Central Park.” ymcanyc.org

Upper West Side—70s:

BEIT RABBAN DAY SCHOOL

Ages 3-5
15 West 86th Street
Philosophy: Child-centered
Religious Affiliation: Jewish
In Their Own Words: “Children learn to respect a multiplicity of interpretations and recognize how the ideas of others can enrich their knowledge and religious experience. A child’s ability to appreciate personal strengths, challenges and accomplishments are cultivated and encouraged- whether it is navigating social dynamics, unique approaches to learning and problem solving or just discovering their own voice.”
Noteworthy: “In response to the growing Jewish Day school tuition crisis, Beit Rabban launched a pioneer program called Tuition Affordability Initiative to take effect for the 2014-2015 school year. Under this program, families can enroll multiple children with a tuition cap at 15 percent of the household’s adjusted gross income, regardless of how many children are enrolled.” beitrabban.org

THE CALHOUN SCHOOL

Ages 3-Grade 12
160 West 74th Street (Lower School)
Philosophy: Progressive
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Calhoun’s approach to learning embraces the individuality of our students while helping each child develop emotionally, socially and cognitively in a safe, nurturing environment. Teacher-directed activities are balanced with free-choice time, reflecting the value we place on play and socialization in a child’s development.  A wealth of concrete materials supports language acquisition, pre-literacy and pre-math skills, augmented by outdoor play and gym time, theater/movement and music.”
Noteworthy: “The preschool program, housed in Calhoun’s Lower School building with 3’s-1st graders, features a gym, outdoor play terrace, theater and outdoor gardening space. Families can select the half or full-day program; options include early drop-off, extended daycare, and after-school care.” calhoun.org

MANHATTAN DAY SCHOOL

Ages 2-Grade 8
310 West 75th Street
Philosophy: Academic
Religious Affiliation: Jewish
In Their Own Words: “Manhattan Day School is an Orthodox Yeshiva with Torah as the foundation of its philosophy. Education consists of developing intelligence, acquiring knowledge, mastering skills, and forming character. It is the role of both the teacher and parent to cooperate, to guide, and to assist in the development of the whole child, academically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and socially.”
Noteworthy: “The MDS model of experiential Jewish education serves as the building block for your child’s Jewish identity. Through song, dance, tefillah, Shabbat and holiday celebration, and Parsha programming, we begin to nurture your child’s early relationship with God, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel.” mdsweb.org

PARK CHILDREN’S DAY SCHOOL

Ages 2.2-5
4 West 76th Street
Philosophy: Child-centered
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “PCDS has a developmental philosophy which is play-based, instilling a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the children who attend. Teachers provide age-appropriate materials and activities, but it is the children who use their own imagination to create the artwork that adorns the walls and hallways of the school.”
Noteworthy: “The PCDS faculty and administration believe that every young child learns best in a well-organized environment in which he or she is encouraged to verbalize, experiment and move about freely in appropriately equipped and organized classrooms. Each group has its own schedule of activities and age appropriate curriculum. Being a part of such a daily routine fosters feelings of security in the child and aids in teaching the child how to best organize his or her activities and time.” parkchildrensdayschool.org

THE SAUL AND CAROLE ZABAR NURSERY SCHOOL AT JCC MANHATTAN

Ages 2-5
334 Amsterdam Avenue
Philosophy: Progressive
Religious Affiliation: Jewish
In Their Own Words: “The Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at The JCC in Manhattan is a progressive preschool that embraces families from all backgrounds and cultivates a connection to Jewish values and tradition. Teachers work collaboratively to create environments and experiences that spark wonder and creativity, build confidence and skills, allow children to explore materials, and encourage a questioning mind.”
Noteworthy: “Daily reflections, journey binders, small booklets, visual narrations on the walls and videos provide windows into the world of the children at school. This documentation helps teachers, parents and children understand and deepen the learning at school, as we think collaboratively about children’s learning.” nurseryschool.jccmanhattan.org

Upper West Side—80s:

THE BROWNSTONE SCHOOL

Ages 2-5
128 West 80th Street
Philosophy: Play-based
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Daily schedules offer a broad range of structured and unstructured activities and provide children with the security of a routine. Working independently and in small groups, the children learn through hands-on exploration of selected materials. Dramatic play, children’s literature, puppets, games, puzzles, blocks, artistic media, music, creative movement, outdoor activities, water play, cooking and manipulatives promote the development of pre-reading, pre-writing and pre-math skills as well as foster understanding of scientific concepts.”
Noteworthy: “Through American Sign Language, the students at Brownstone acquire a second language! With weekly classes with Lora Heller, the children engage in signed songs, stories, and games, developing new vocabulary each week. Learning sign language can provide children with improved literacy skills, spatial reasoning skills, and motor coordination. It also allows our students and teachers to utilize a silent language during transitions, and in support of their classroom routines. Social skills and friendships flourish–children are able to more fully communicate with their peers and teachers as everyone is learning to sign.” brownstoneschool.org

COLUMBUS PRESCHOOL

Ages 2-4
606 Columbus Avenue
Philosophy: Emergent
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “The program draws from the child’s natural curiosity to bring about self-confidence and the skills for independent learning. In addition to the ever-evolving emergent curriculum that guides daily free choice times, teachers incorporate literacy and math games/activities into the class schedule to ensure our students are more than prepared for kindergarten.”
Noteworthy: “Recognizing that play is the work of children, we provide them with materials to explore such as sand, water, clay, paint and blocks. Explorations with concrete and open-ended materials encourage children to think, to plan, to question, to problem solve, and to recreate, thereby making sense of their world.” columbuspre-school.com

MANHATTAN COUNTRY SCHOOL

Ages 4-Grade 8
150 West 85th Street
Philosophy: Progressive
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Reflecting the vision of the civil rights movement, Manhattan Country School teaches students in a community with no racial majority and broad economic diversity. Our goals for students are academic excellence, intellectual freedom, social awareness, self-confidence, and first-hand knowledge of the natural world.”
Noteworthy: “One of the most significant parts of our school’s academic experience takes place at our award-winning farm in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. At the Farm, students learn invaluable lessons about community and interdependence, nature and the sustainable production of food, energy and fiber. Many alumni credit their time at the MCS Farm as the most important and eye-opening experience of their young lives.” manhattancountryschool.org

METROPOLITAN MONTESSORI SCHOOL

Ages 18 months-Grade 6
325 West 85th Street
Philosophy: Montessori
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “At a very young age, children instinctively seek to care for themselves, their homes, and their natural environments. They want to feed themselves, sweep the floor, rake leaves, pour milk into their cup. What Dr. Montessori called ‘practical life’ is a valuable component of the MMS Primary program.”
Noteworthy: “Children participate in a range of activities that build independence, self-reliance and a love of learning. They prepare their own snack, help water plants and care for classroom pets, and mop up spills, all with child-sized tools. The nurturing teachers closely observe each child’s development, identifying strengths, learning temperaments and helping to establish the skills needed for first grade.”mmsny.org

RODEPH SHOLOM SCHOOL

Ages 2-Grade 8
10 West 84th Street (2s-K)
168 West 79th Street (Grades 1-8)
Philosophy: Play-based
Religious Affiliation: Jewish
In Their Own Words: “Children in our Twos and Threes programs learn how to move through a school day, how to develop positive and satisfying relationships with others, and how to function within a group. We also expose our youngest students to a wide range of learning materials and give them chances to explore and make sense of the world around them.”
Noteworthy: “Each morning, students initiate social play through learning and work centers where children select what and with whom they will play. Their interactions with adults and peers grow positively as they learn to modulate their words to communicate wants, needs or ideas.” rodephsholom.org

TREVOR DAY SCHOOL

Age 2.8-Grade 12
1 West 88th Street
Philosophy: Inquiry-based
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Inquiry-based learning engages students in activities and investigation in order to drive true understanding. Rather than reciting facts or showing a clear path to a solution, teachers guide and mentor students through a process of discovery and reflection via well-crafted questions and problems. In an inquiry-based learning environment, the teacher is both a facilitator of learning—encouraging higher-order thinking— and a provider of information. This dynamic approach encourages students to ask questions and actively participate in their learning, thus building knowledge from experience and process.”
Noteworthy: “The building blocks of literacy are developed using fun and engaging exercises during the writing workshop. Dynamic projects, such as student-made mini-books, help to establish a love of written expression. While engaging with pattern blocks or Cuisenaire rods, children actively learn mathematical building blocks such as counting and estimation. Aristotle’s concept of Eudaimonia translates to “the state of having a good indwelling spirit.” And to follow this spirit constitutes the best activity of which a human is capable. At Trevor, we recognize this spirit as one’s good genius–the limitless potential inherent within a child. We believe it is our responsibility and privilege to invoke the good genius that exists in every student.” trevor.org

Upper West Side—90s:

ALEXANDER ROBERTSON SCHOOL

Ages 3-Grade 5
3 West 95th Street
Philosophy: Academic
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Success for every learner is ensured by our ability to tailor instruction to each individual child’s needs. Our teachers and administrators work collaboratively to develop and maintain a wide-ranging curriculum that both inspires and challenges our students and reflects their diversity in backgrounds, needs, and aspirations.”
Noteworthy: “Our small size also enables us to be nimble and creative in our curricular offerings. ARS is the first school in New York City to adopt the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s Science and Technology Concepts curriculum. Our Pre-Kindergarten students will be immersed in this seamless Pre-K through grade 5 curriculum that encourages critical thinking and ‘scientific habits of the mind.” alexanderrobertson.org

BASIC TRUST

Ages 3 months-5 years
127 West 94th Street
Philosophy: Emergent
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Basic Trust (BT) is a not-for-profit childcare center committed to providing a safe and loving environment for infants, toddlers and preschool children. Each child is nurtured and supported in a home-like setting with mixed age groupings. We let the children into our lives and together we explore the world as part of a rambunctious family.”
Noteworthy: “We know we’re being given the most valuable part of your family. We have enormous respect for each child and a commitment to know them. When babies first start at BT, we talk to the parents a lot about their schedules and their needs.” basictrust.org

BRIGHT HORIZONS EARLY EDUCATION AND PRESCHOOL

Ages 16 months-5 years
103 West 96th Street
Philosophy: Eclectic
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “This is an exciting stage in your child’s early education, and our talented team of caring teachers is here to inspire learning, encourage confidence, and nurture your child’s growth and development. Our World at Their Fingertips curriculum features an arts program that sparks creativity, a language program that fosters an interest in reading, a science program that stimulates curiosity, and more. There’s always something new to explore.”
Noteworthy: “At Bright Horizons we believe that environment is the key to creating a joyful place for childhood; and we put a great deal of thought and care into creating those joyful places. In keeping with Reggio Emilia and Montessori philosophies, our designs consider not only what children need in a space, but how they will use it. We know our centers will form an integral part of a child’s earliest learning; and with that in mind, we carefully curate high-quality materials for every center to create beautiful environments with rich, open-ended experiences that nurture development and inspire learning.” child-care-preschool.brighthorizons.com

CHABAD EARLY LEARNING CENTER

Ages 2-5
166 West 97th Street
Philosophy: Play-based
Religious Affiliation: Jewish
In Their Own Words: “In early childhood, the seeds of learning, Jewish identity, curiosity and caring are planted. Our program spans a period of intense personal, social and academic growth. Young children develop at different paces. Our teachers are sensitive to the wide range of abilities and developmental levels within this age group.”
Noteworthy: “Preparing and celebrating Shabbat is a special time at Chabad. Challah baking is the first activity of the day followed by a warm and joyous Shabbat celebration. Parents are often invited to join their child’s class for this meaningful weekly event.” chabadelc.com

COLUMBUS GRAMMAR AND PREPARATORY SCHOOL

Ages 4-Grade 8
5 West 93rd Street
Philosophy: Academic
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Pre-K students learn how speaking and listening are translated into writing and reading. They study families, various cultures, and holiday traditions.  Students are introduced to beginning math concepts such as counting, patterns, graphing, cooking and classification. The study of science includes hibernation, migration, animals, weather patterns, and the environment.”
Noteworthy: “One of the most important aspects of Pre-Kindergarten development is when children recognize that a series of printed letters creates a word that has meaning. To encourage this recognition, students dictate their own picture captions and stories. In this manner, they discover that their words can be translated into print as they watch teachers write what they describe.” cgps.org

GENEVA SCHOOL OF MANHATTAN

Ages 2.5-Grade 8
138 West 90th Street
Philosophy: Play-based
Religious Affiliation: Christian
In Their Own Words: “The Geneva School of Manhattan believes that a child’s early years provide the best opportunity to cultivate an enduring love of learning. Our youngest students are immersed in a nurturing environment within the structure of the classical Christian education model.”
Noteworthy: “Shorter learning periods interspersed with periods of music, physical playtime, learning centers, French, and outdoor exploration allow our students to flourish intellectually and emotionally. Most importantly, our students are taught biblical principles such as honesty, perseverance, and love and respect towards others, which foster the development of a vibrant character.” genevaschool.net

LA ESCUELITA DUAL LANGUAGE PRESCHOOL

Ages 2-5
225 West 99th Street
Philosophy: International
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Our curriculum is designed to provide developmentally appropriate, culturally sensitive experiences for children. At La Escuelita we begin with the understanding that young children: learn multiple languages best at an early age; learn through independent play, real-life experience and teacher directed activity; respond well to caring and attentive adults; feel secure when there is structure and predictability to their day.”
Noteworthy: “Children in the 2-year-old classes will be taught primarily in Spanish, while the children in the programs for 3 and 4 year olds will be taught in English and Spanish with an emphasis on Spanish. This maximizes exposure to Spanish while transitioning them to a 90/10 dual language model, to be followed in the program for the older children.” laescuelitanyc.org

MONTCLARE CHILDREN’S SCHOOL

Ages 2-5
747 Amsterdam Avenue
Philosophy: Balanced Approach
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Montclare Children’s School is an enriched preschool, engaging children in a joyful and dynamic environment. We inspire lifelong learners by cultivating collaboration, creativity, and independent thinking. Our balanced pedagogical approach establishes a durable educational foundation, bolstering the skills children need for Kindergarten and future learning. Montclare’s teachers scaffold certain activities to stimulate deeper learning, encouraging teacher-guided and unstructured play, children build confidence and independence, becoming more willing to take appropriate risks while creating meaningful friendships. Furthermore, both in and out of the classroom, fine and gross-motor physical development are integral parts of each day. Specialist-led activities include movement, yoga, physical education, and gymnastics as well as art, library, and music. Our facility includes a library, music room, art studio, rooftop play-space, two gyms, climbing wall and 13 classrooms. Financial aid is also available.”
Noteworthy: “Exciting field trips are planned throughout the year to reinforce and bring to life what our children are learning in the classroom. Trips and workshops have included apple-picking, Victorian Gardens, Farm Trip, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, NY Botanical Gardens, visiting the local Public Library and Firehouse, Central Park Zoo, Farmers Market, Nature Walks in Central Park, Writopia, Community Helper Visits, and ABT. Beyond being well-stocked with all the essential components and manipulatives of an early childhood classroom, Montclare’s 3s and 4s classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards and/or smart boards as tools to support our creative, multifaceted curriculum.” montclareschool.org

POPPYSEED PRE-NURSERY

Ages 0-3
424 West End Avenue
Philosophy: Play-based
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “As a ‘first classroom’ experience, Poppyseed aims to help children develop the comfort and confidence to be ready for socializing in nursery school and activities with peers, while bonding with their special loved one, enjoying creativity in the arts together.”
Noteworthy: “Popppyseed’s Lead Teacher was awarded the Blackboard Award for Outstanding Nursery Teacher and she was also spoken of highly on “The Today Show” by co-anchor, Hoda Kotb, mother of daughter who attends Poppyseed.” poppyseedprenursery.com

RIVER PARK NURSERY SCHOOL

Ages 2-5
711 Amsterdam Avenue
Philosophy: Child-centered
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “The primary goal of River Park is to promote a positive sense of self in each child. Interpersonal relationships and a loving and nurturing environment set the stage. It is necessary that each child feel positive and important. Each child has a contribution to make.”
Noteworthy: “Relationships with the community are also a strong focus of the program. Once a child’s positive sense of self has been established, that child can then respond appropriately to the needs of the community. The emphasis is on working together in a cooperative, non-competitive environment.” riverparknurseryschool.com

THE STUDIO SCHOOL

Ages 3-Grade 8
117 West 95th Street
Philosophy: Play-based
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “The Studio School educates the hearts and minds of children as we nurture the unfolding of their authentic spirit and character. Our students learn to value intellectual and creative ideas, and to take pleasure in the process of discovery. We seek a deep and lasting academic excellence, one that is achieved when children are motivated to embrace for themselves the journey of learning.”
Noteworthy: “Open-ended materials and guided activities stimulate creativity and thinking. In Work Period, with a teacher’s deft guidance, each student has the experience of taking a project from start to finish. Children build with wooden unit and large outdoor blocks daily and trips are planned so that they can bring their new observations about the world into the classroom.” thestudioschoolnyc.org

WEST SIDE MONTESSORI SCHOOL

Ages 2-6
309 West 92nd Street
Philosophy: Montessori
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “By encouraging their [children’s] natural curiosity in an atmosphere of respect for self and others, we help children build a lifelong love of learning and a strong foundation for becoming self-directed learners, flexible thinkers, creative problem solvers, resilient individuals, and empathic citizens of the world.”
Noteworthy: “As part of our commitment to continually improve, each year WSMS invites specialists in a particular field to visit the school over the course of the school year, during which they work with faculty and children to provide new insights and new opportunities for learning that are then incorporated into our curriculum.” wsmsnyc.org

GUIDEPOST MONTESSORI – COLUMBUS SQUARE 

Age 2 through fifth grade
775 Columbus Ave.
PhilosophyMontessori
Religious Affiliation: Our school is not affiliated with any religion, and we welcome students of all backgrounds.
In Your Own Words: “Guidepost Montessori has two Manhattan campuses, located on either side of Central Park. Columbus Square, the campus on the west side, offers Toddler and Children’s House programs (age 2 to 6), and Museum Mile, on the east side, offers Children’s House and Elementary programs (age 3 to fifth grade). Each Guidepost classroom is a beautifully prepared Montessori environment with thoughtfully trained teachers guiding the children in their individual learning journeys. Located in one of the most cosmopolitan of cities, our Guidepost students take daily walks to parks and plan weekly visits to museums. A parent and child class is offered for age 6 months to 3 years, where families can learn about Montessori together. Visit guidepostmontessori.com and learn more.”
Noteworthy: “Guidepost Montessori offers Mandarin Immersion programs at both Manhattan campuses. With the help of native-Mandarin-speaking guides, cultural programs, and beautiful hands-on materials, students quickly achieve fluency in a second language. Columbus Square offers an outdoor terrace and rooftop garden for the children to play in and explore, and Museum Mile is located in the historic Charles Ogden Mansion, a century-old architectural property off Fifth Avenue.”

Upper West Side—100s:

ADULTS AND CHILDREN IN TRUST (A.C.T.) PROGRAMS AT THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE

Ages 2-4
1047 Amsterdam Avenue
Philosophy: Child-centered
Religious Affiliation: Nonsectarian
In Their Own Words: “For the young, small is beautiful. Our class of no more than 15 is kept that way to be certain there will be time to get to know and nurture each child. A small group and low teacher-child ratio makes it possible for a teacher to be there when children need help taking turns, playing together, and resolving squabbles. It also gives us the freedom and flexibility to respond to individual needs and interests.”
Noteworthy: “The Cathedral of St. John the Divine’s 13 idyllic acres make possible our unique encouragement of your child’s curiosity and desire to explore. Learning about the homes and habits of the squirrels and peacocks living on the grounds, raking leaves, digging for worms and making them a home, planting bulbs, tending plants, harvesting vegetables, observing and drawing the flowers of spring, gathering art materials from nature, picnicking on lovely days, sledding and building snow people in winter, are just some of the things we’ll do as your child learns about learning and the great big beautiful world.” stjohndivine.org

BANK STREET FAMILY CENTER

Ages 6 months-5 years
610 West 112th Street
Philosophy: Bank Street
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Children learn through activities and experiences that are child-centered and developmentally appropriate; relationships, primary care for each child and emotionally responsive practice are central to a child’s learning. Communication, support and collaboration are the hallmarks of partnership and take a variety of forms — from individual daily notes to individual conferences with staff members.”
Noteworthy: “The Family Center Home & Community-Based Program brings special education and therapeutic services to children in the most appropriate, least restrictive, natural environment. This can be the home (particularly for very young children) or a general education setting.” bankstreet.edu

BANK STREET SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN

Ages 3-Grade 8
610 West 112th Street
Philosophy: Bank Street
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Education at the School is experience-based, interdisciplinary, and collaborative. The emphasis is on educating the whole child—the entire emotional, social, physical, and intellectual being—while at the same time, the child’s integrity as learner, teacher, and classmate is valued and reinforced.”
Noteworthy: “In the tradition of Bank Street’s progressive origins, which emphasize the importance of active engagement in the world around us, the program addresses two major themes: (1) the study of human life as it presents itself from moment to moment, e.g., sharing, working together cooperatively, resolving conflicts; and (2) the study of the connections and relationships necessary for physical and psychological survival in the world around them.” school.bankstreet.edu

BROADWAY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH NURSERY SCHOOL

Ages 2-5
601 West 114th Street
Philosophy: Play-based
Religious Affiliation: Presbyterian
In Their Own Words: “Our teaching follows the Developmental Interaction/whole child approach, with an emphasis on rich, hands-on experiences and time to reflect and represent those experiences through language and physical means. Play is at the heart of the curriculum, and children are given many forums for play – dolls and pretend materials, blocks, building manipulatives, sensory materials such as sand, water and play dough, art materials, and science investigations.”
Noteworthy: “Parental involvement is vital to a child’s successful school experience. Parents and teachers work in partnership to that end. We encourage a close relationship and copious communication with the teachers.” greatlittleschool.com

CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER: HENRY & LOUISE LOEB THERAPEUTIC NURSERY SCHOOL

Ages 3-5
34 West 139th Street
Philosophy: Developmentally-based approach
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “For children 3 to 5 years of age presenting with developmental delays, communication problems, social/emotional/behavioral difficulties, or attention and learning deficits. A highly structured small group classroom (8:1:2) helps them build self-esteem, develop relationships, and become effective learners.”
Noteworthy: “Individualized mandated therapies, including speech and language, occupational, physical, plays, and music, are provided. An interdisciplinary team approach, inclusive of the family, promotes best practices for understanding the child’s challenges and strengths.” jewishboard.org

CHILDREN’S LEARNING CENTER AT MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS

Ages 6 months-5 years
90 LaSalle Street
Philosophy: Emergent
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “At Children’s Learning Center (CLC), a child’s imagination and desire to make meaning are keys to learning in the early years. We view children as competent, creative problem-solvers, and we respect their learning process. Music, dramatic play, art, blocks, story-telling, science, and math explorations – all offer children platforms for imaginative work. At CLC, our children develop confidence, a love for learning, and a sense of community at school.”
Noteworthy: “Documentation through photography, writing, and group reflection is an essential part of teaching life at CLC, and classrooms share their studies with parents through newsletters, reflections, and narrative reports on child development.” clcnyc.com

COLUMBIA GREENHOUSE NURSERY SCHOOL

Ages 2.9-5
404 West 116th Street
Philosophy: Developmental-Interaction Approach
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “This educational philosophy of Greenhouse pivots on the widely held pedagogic belief that young children learn best through direct interaction and real-life experience with interesting materials, responsive adults and small peer groups. As we design our classrooms, we choose and display real materials in a way that provoke the children’s imagination and expressive sensibilities.”
Noteworthy: “We intentionally design our environment to invite children to do what comes naturally to them – tinker, play, express, build, think. On any given day, at any given moment, a small group of children could be collaborating together to build a rocket ship with smooth wooden blocks, while another child is writing a story about the day a young girl turned into a cat, and still another child is off sorting the collection of antique buttons into unique categories. You might find a small group of children cooking challah bread or planting seeds in fresh dirt, while others are painting at the easel and mindfully filling the paper with different sized dots of paint.” columbiagreenhouse.com

THE FAMILY ANNEX NURSERY SCHOOL

Ages 1.7-5
560 West 113th Street
Philosophy: Reggio Emilia
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Since 2005 we have been immersed in learning and applying the Reggio Emilia approach from the town of the same name in Italy. This wonderful philosophy encourages creative thinking for children and encourages teachers and children to be researchers. The curriculum is layered with multiple projects based on the children’s interests and natural curiosity. The children are engaged in discovery through an investigative approach in which their ideas are valued and respected.”
Noteworthy: “Daily Journal: Documentation serves many functions and is an important tool in the Reggio Emilia approach. Children’s projects are carefully arranged and include transcriptions of children’s conversations and remarks, photographs of ongoing work and activities, and the products that have been produced by the children to represent their thinking and learning. Teachers’ commentaries on the purposes of a project, along with transcriptions of children’s verbal language, photographs, and representations of their thinking are provided. The documentation shows children that their work is valued, makes parents aware of class learning experiences, and allows teachers to assess both their teaching and the children’s learning.” familyannex.org

HOLLINGWORTH PRESCHOOL AT TEACHERS COLLEGE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Ages 3-5
525 West 120th Street
Philosophy: Child-centered
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “The philosophy of Hollingworth Preschool is guided by the value we as educators place on children’s sense of wonder; thus, we consider our approach child-responsive. This child-responsive philosophy guides our work and influences our goals as educators.”
Noteworthy: “Hollingworth Preschool is a program of Teachers College at Columbia University. Hollingworth Preschool has a dual mission to provide enrichment opportunities for young children while also serving as a lab school site for professional development of Teachers College graduate students.” tc.columbia.edu

THE MEDICAL CENTER NURSERY SCHOOL

Ages 2-5
60 Haven Avenue
Philosophy: Play-centered
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “MCNS provides a nurturing and child-centered environment where a diverse group of students and teachers plays, learns, and grows together. Our beautiful facility, with light and airy classrooms, provides the perfect setting for children’s activities and an exciting bridge between our children’s families and homes and the much larger world beyond.”
Noteworthy: “MCNS is very structured. But the structure doesn’t lie in daily lesson plans or work sheets. It does not lie in a full day of teacher-directed activities. The structure at MCNS is two-fold. The first is in the physical plant, the carefully designed classroom spaces and contents of the areas within them. The second is in the daily schedule, the flow of large and small motor activities, large group, small group and individual activities, eating and rest periods, music, story and discussion times. Combine those two underlying structures and you have the ideal learning environment for young children to flourish.” mcns.org

MORNINGSIDE MONTESSORI SCHOOL

Ages 2-5
251 West 100th Street
Philosophy: Montessori
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “The Morningside approach to early childhood education is based primarily on principles developed in the early part of this century by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and early childhood educator: children learn best by doing; children teach themselves; children learn from each other.”
Noteworthy: “Our Parent Education curriculum offers a series of workshops for Morningside Families throughout the year. Through these workshops, parents will have opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of the developmental processes, milestones, and needs of their children. The workshops will be a forum for learning, exchanging ideas, and an opportunity to further build relationships with the other Morningside Families.” morningsidemontessori.org

PURPLE CIRCLE

Ages 2-5
251 West 100th Street
Philosophy: Child-centered
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “Instead of feeding children a set of facts, we take their daily discoveries and questions, and explore them in depth. When the curriculum is tailored to meet the individual’s strengths and interests, and the environment supports this, the children come to see themselves as capable thinkers and learners, making sense of and imagining the world around them.”
Noteworthy: “The partnership between families and teachers is essential in the preservation of children’s play. Our exceptional student to teacher ratio affords teachers time to observe each child closely so that they may provide a variety of materials to support each child’s strengths and interests.” purple-circle.org

HILDA’S & ST. HUGH’S EPISCOPAL SCHOOL

Age 2-Grade 8
619 West 114th Street
Philosophy: Academic
Religious Affiliation: Episcopal
In Their Own Words: “Classrooms are carefully organized to create a learning environment that allows the children to grow in all aspects of their development. Classroom areas are supplied with materials through which fine and gross motor skills are strengthened and developed. In senior kindergarten, formal math instruction begins, along with formal language arts instruction using phonics and a literature-based curriculum.”
Noteworthy: “The outstanding faculty of St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s is dedicated to educating children at the earliest stages of their development. An essential part of our comprehensive academic program is foreign language instruction, which begins in nursery with a choice of French, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish; we introduce Latin in seventh grade.” sthildas.org

THE WEEKDAY SCHOOL AT RIVERSIDE CHURCH

Ages 2-5
490 Riverside Drive
Philosophy: Hands-on
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “The diverse community at Weekday fosters sharing, understanding and respect while focusing on the social, emotional and physical development of children. We honor each child as a unique individual with the goal of fostering self-awareness and self-respect. This awareness leads to the development of each child’s sense of responsibility as part of a larger community.”
Noteworthy: “The Weekday School faculty consists of talented, dedicated and highly qualified early childhood specialists. We have an active Parents Association and 83-year history of serving families from the Upper West Side and Harlem communities.” wdsnyc.org

YALDAYNU PRESCHOOL

Ages 2-5
251 W. 100th St.
Philosophy: Play-based/ Reggio Emilia Inspired
Religious Affiliation: Jewish
In Their Own Words: “Yaldaynu is a child and family-centered school, where excellent education is seamlessly combined with Jewish values and culture. We are invested in the growth and development of each child, as each child learns at his/her own pace and has individual interests and needs. Our teachers encourage curiosity and exploration through hands-on, multisensory experiences that are rooted in child-centered and developmentally appropriate practice.”
Noteworthy: “Yaldaynu is only one piece of each child’s learning, so we value the partnership with our families. On a regular basis, there is a buzz in our hallways during arrival and dismissal as parents, caregivers, grandparents, and all other adults are talking and laughing together. The relationships that are forged inside our school are long lasting, amongst both children and families. Additionally, our families feel welcome in our space, which can be seen through families spending time in our classrooms, attending school events, chaperoning trips, acting as members of our Board of Directors, and simply just asking how they can help out at school. These relationships go beyond the classroom walls; they make us family.” yaldaynu.org

Multiple Locations on Upper West Side

NY KIDS CLUB

Ages 2 months- 12 years old
21 West End, 168 Amsterdam Ave., and 601 Amsterdam Ave.
Philosophy: Hands-on
Religious Affiliation: None
In Their Own Words: “We believe in providing a safe, structured, inclusive setting that supports, encourages and inspires each child. Our fundamental belief that children learn best through meaningful play is reflected in a child-centered program that integrates the cognitive, social, physical, emotional, language, self-help and aesthetic areas for the total development of the child.”
Noteworthy: “Our unique learning environment sparks physical growth and discovery while our creative curriculum, which combines the traditional and the progressive, supports each student’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth.”

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