The best schools in NYC share several things in common, such as a love of learning, a wealth of opportunities, and a determination to make sure students receive a well rounded education that is both rich and enriching. If you have children or are planning to have them, live in New York City or intend to move there, then you simply can't start looking at schools too early. After all, some people are even willing to relocate if it means getting their child into the perfect school. There are lots to choose from in all areas and boroughs of this culturally rich, multifaceted city, so take a look at some of the very best schools in NYC and make your choice!
1. Brownstone School
The Brownstone School, located on the Upper West Side, has been around since 1963 and is still considered one of the best schools in NYC. It was originally founded not just by educators with a passion for teaching children thoughtfully and thoroughly, but by a group of parents as well. The teachers and parents are still extremely dedicated, and children receive a very progressive education designed to nourish their mental, physical, and emotional development. At the same time, however, they're encouraged to play and to really be children. Parents can even keep up with what's going on by reading various blogs from teachers, aides, and administrators.
2. The Calhoun School
If you're looking for a diverse school that will take your child from preschool all the way through senior year, the Calhoun School is an excellent choice. It prides itself on a diverse atmosphere that encourages growth and learning. Rather than forcing children to memorize information for tests and quizzes, then promptly forget it, the teachers instead teach the kids to actually learn. They're taught to question, argue, explore, and to thirst for knowledge rather than resign themselves to it. The Calhoun School is also located on the Upper West Side, and the locale definitely plays a part in the curriculum.
3. Columbus Park West
It's hard to find a nursery school or preschool in the city, especially one that really gives your child the tools he or she needs to move on to elementary school, middle school, and high school. Columbus Park West goes back to the days of one room schoolhouses, so that the students are able to learn about each other, play together, and really learn together. The curriculum borrows from several educational philosophies, including those found in Montessori schools, progressive establishments, and open classrooms. In addition to getting a head start on their ABCs, children learn about music, they take yoga, they're taught about gardening, and they even cook!
4. La Escuelita
While relatively new, having been founded just a decade ago, La Escuelita is a wonderful school based on really enriching ideas. The founders are both parents and educators who wanted to give their own children a school where they could learn and play – but in a bilingual environment. These days being bilingual automatically gives you a leg up, and it's a known fact that children learn different languages with an ease envied by adults. Even one year olds benefit from the lessons and techniques taught at the school, and your children can continue attending up to the third grade, which provides a steady, strong lingual foundation.
5. The Mandell School
The Mandell School is a preschool, an elementary school, and a middle school, all in one. It offers preschool classes, while the main school accepts students from kindergarten through the 8th grade. In addition to being taught the basics and fundamentals, students at The Mandell School are given the tools they need to change the world. While their academic standards are high, the faculty and staff do all they can to nurture and guide students, which often makes all the difference. Students are encouraged to be individuals as well, and their talents are not just acknowledged but actually utilized in the curriculum.
6. Metropolitan Montessori School
Montessori schools have largely excellent reputations, and the Metropolitan Montessori School matches those expectations. The school began as a parental co-op, and though it has moved to a new location and changed its name, parents still play important roles in the school. Students are taught strong values and the beauty of diversity, so their educations are open-minded and thoughtful. Some classrooms are mixed, so that younger students see and learn from the older ones – and vice versa.
7. Montclare Children's School
Montclare Children's School is vocal about encouraging the growth and development of the whole child, a philosophy that resounds in the school's curriculum. Competition is considered harmful, so the atmosphere is non-competitive, inviting, and safe. Children get to explore and experiment with new things every day, so that by the time the preschoolers move on to elementary school, they actually look forward to learning and are excited to learn more about the world around them.
8. Rodeph Sholom School
Rodeph Sholom School is a Reform Jewish Day School that teaches its students the importance of always remaining intellectually curious. Students start there at preschool age and continue on through the 8th grade, which provides plenty of time for the school's educators and administrators to equip them with a wonderful, rich foundation. Children are encouraged to be children through the N-8 structure, yet are given the tools they need to be leaders. The schoolwork is challenging but not based on memorization by rote, and the kids learn about both Judaic studies and secular subjects.
9. Stephen Wise Free Synagogue
Technically the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue Balfour Brickner Early Childhood Center, the school has been around in some form since 1949. It has only grown from that point, taking pride in teaching creativity along with knowledge in traditional subjects, and all the while encouraging students to play – like children. Based on a belief that children learn best by experimenting, experiencing, and generally doing, the school focuses on every level of development and growth, so that the curriculum is almost individual for every child.
10. West Side Montessori
Another Montessori school to consider is the West Side Montessori School – located on the West Side, naturally. While the school understandably focuses on the classic Montessori educational philosophy, it also keeps up-to-date with all the latest tools, practices, and techniques in development and growth. Parents are always encouraged to get involved and children are definitely allowed to indulge their curious nature. The key here is to make sure that students love learning, all through their lives.
11. The River School
Last but most certainly not least is the River School, which actually accepts children as young as 8 weeks old. Children can attend the school until the age of 6. As you might expect, the focus is on early education, but the curriculum relies on all the latest developmental studies and techniques. The point here is for children to challenge themselves, foster a love for learning, and form relationships with their peers.
As you can see, the best schools in NYC create a curriculum that embraces the whole child. Kids are taught to be children, to be curious, to ask questions, and to understand themselves, other children, and the world as a whole. What do you look for when you're choosing a school for your child?
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