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Williamsburg Neighborhood Nursery

54 South 2nd St
Brooklyn, NY 11249

(718) 782-4181


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

The focus of our daily program is the creative and purposeful engagement with hands-on materials. Teachers provide carefully-chosen materials that grow and evolve along with the child who uses them. At WNNS, children paint and collage. They experiment with sand and water. They work with playdough, build with blocks, and piece puzzles together. They sew and weave. They develop many of their own dramatic play materials, and use these to experiment with different roles and ways of being. They help teachers cook homemade playdough and edible snacks. While children play they are thinking, planning, experimenting, solving problems, and developing language. As their play begins to include peers, they are also listening, negotiating, and taking turns. Through play the children begin to learn about themselves as individuals and as members of a group. They develop self-confidence and self-motivation. It is through play that children gain the skills that will serve them later in school and in life. The children's day also includes two or more group times. Children and teachers gather at the rug for song, story and discussion. The children learn a range of songs in different languages and from different parts of the world. They listen to books ranging from folk and fairy tales to information books to books about children's own experiences of family life or growing up. Times spent together as a class help the children learn to focus attention on the speaker, to follow the train of a discussion, and to value group participation. We recognize that some children may be unwilling at first to take advantage of these whole-group experiences; quiet alternatives are provided so that the hesitant child may observe at a safe distance and join the group when he or she feels ready. All the children have a mid-morning snack at school, and children who spend an extended day at school bring a lunch. Children and teachers eat together at tables. As at home, mealtimes are a time for conversation and review of the day's activities. Children are responsible for helping clear and wipe tables when meals are over. WNNS provides a school experience that is carefully structured, yet also allows the children to explore the school world at their own pace and in their own way. It is this combination of structure and freedom that encourages the children's spontaneous curiosity and introduces them to the joys of learning.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Every child is an individual with a unique set of experiences and unique ways of viewing and making sense the world. Our teachers are constantly making close observations of the children; watching, for example, how they physically maneuver in the classroom or on the playground, how and what they play alone and with others, and what experiences preceed particular behaviors. Through such observations, we are able to create activities and provide materials that meet each child where they are and help them to continue to grow and develop. In addition, frequent communication with parents helps us all to see the child in a variety of settings. Difficult behaviors that are observed across many settings or that follow a clear pattern may be a sign that further intervention is in the child's best interest.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

The Williamsburg Neighborhood Nursery School was founded on the belief that a good early childhood program should provide children and their families with a bridge between the worlds of home and school. The nursery school environment must be both structured and nurturing; it must combine the safety and comfort of home with the social and intellectual stimulation of school. Young children are explorers. They use all of their senses to investigate their world and the people within it. Classroom materials and programs are designed to encourage and enrich this exploration. Teachers act as guides, extending the children's thinking, setting reasonable limits for their behavior, and helping them grow as independent learners. Parents play a key role in the successful nursery school program. At WNNS parents are welcome visitors in the classroom throughout the school year and are expected to stay at school with their children during the initial separation process. Twice-yearly formal conferences as well as frequent informal conversations give parents and teachers a chance to share observations and insights about each child's school experience and to set goals for the future.

A Typical Day

The day begins with a welcoming arrival time during which children arrive at school and parents and caregivers are welcome in the classroom. Children greet friends and readjust to the school environment. Adults then say goodbye, and children and teachers gather for Morning Meeting.
As a group, we take attendance, discuss any new projects or materials, and engage in group discussions on topics of interest to the children.
Next is the 90 minute worktime during which children can choose from a variety of different activities including: art projects, sensory materials like sand, water or playdough, block-building, dramatic play, math manipulatives, drawing and story-telling, cooking, and more. Children must be self-directed, choosing activities and moving from one to the next.
We then clean up and gather again for a 20 minute singing and music session. We sing songs in a variety of languages and from many cultures and historical periods. We include movement and dancing activities as well.
Singing is followed by story-time when a book is read by a teacher and then discussed by the group.
The children then wash hands and come to tables for snack time. Snack is an important social time as children come together to share food, often food that they have prepared themselves as part of a cooking project.
After snack, children go outside to play at the neighborhood playground.
Next is lunch time, after which the part-day children are dismissed. Full-day children have a rest time and then a second extended worktime, storytime, and outdoor play as time allows.
Final dismissal is at 4:00pm.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

Parents meet with teachers for formal conferences twice a year. Teachers prepare a written narrative describing the child's progress and goals for future learning. Informal communication continues throughout the year as parents are encouraged to ask questions about their child's school experience. When it is not disruptive or emotionally stressful to children, parents are welcome in the classroom. Before the start of school, parents are invited to a presentation on the school's separation philosophy. In November, parents are invited to Curriculum Night where teachers show slides and discuss the school program, philosophy and curriculum themes. There is a fall workshop for parents on choosing elementary schools for their child's post-nursery years. Parents of alumni are invited back to give presentations on their children's current schools.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Go on field trips
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Voice Mail
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Home visits by teachers
  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Small group sessions
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

Teachers do home visits for all newly enrolled children before the start of school. Children then attend school in small groups for gradually lengthening periods of time over the course of the first 2 weeks of school. Parents or caregivers are required to stay at school with their children for the first week of school at a minimum. Parents and caregivers are then gradually phased out of the classroom at a pace that is individualized for each child. Teachers emphasize the importance of teacher-child relationship-building, and parents and caregivers leave only when the child is familiar enough with teachers to be comforted by them when parents or caregivers are gone. Parents and caregivers are not permitted to sneak out.