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Bank Street Family Center

610 West 112th Street
New York, NY 10025-1898

(212) 875-4420


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Teacher-Led

From the Director:

"Classroom structure and curriculum take into account the developmental stage of students. The younger children are in a self-contained classroom with a head teacher, assistant teacher, and often a student teacher. Their classroom is the center of all learning activities with social studies, science, math, reading and writing, and the expressive creative arts integrated into the daily work and play of the children. Although they leave their room for outdoor time, and time with specialists in music, gym, movement, and art, their classroom life offers them the emotional security provided by a small stable community and familiar environment. Extracted from

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense
Time & space
Sci. reasoning/physical world
Visual arts
Physical activity
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

"The Lower School consists of five classrooms on the second floor: one 3's class, two 4/5's classes, and two 5/6's classes. The physical space, equipment, and materials all serve to meet the needs and capacity of young children. The program emphasizes concrete experience (e.g., block construction, cooking, trips) as vehicles for learning. A music teacher, Spanish teacher, librarian, and a movement teacher works with each group." (SOURCE:

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"The mission of Bank Street College is to improve the education of children and their teachers by applying to the educational process all available knowledge about learning and growth, and by connecting teaching and learning meaningfully to the outside world. In so doing, we seek to strengthen not only individuals, but the community as well, including family, school, and the larger society in which adults and children, in all their diversity, interact and learn. We see in education the opportunity to build a better society.

Philosphy - Education at the School for Children is experienced-based, interdisciplinary, and collaborative. There is an emphasis on educating the whole child - the intellectual, emotional, and physical aspects of the person. One of the most important organizing principles of education at Bank Street is that in order for children to learn in school and to become lifelong learners, they must interact with their environment (people, places, and things) and interpret their experience. For students at the School for Children, cooking, block building, dramatic play, lab work, painting, and field trips are regarded as basic life experiences from which understanding and knowledge can be constructed.

There are different ways of talking about the educational philosophy of Bank Street. A parent will hear some of the following descriptions when speaking with her or his child's teacher: experiential education: carefully designed and executed educational experiences that are reconstructed and reflected upon in a variety of ways thorough talking, drawing, building, and acting; constructivism: the idea that a child makes discoveries from his or her own observations, explorations, and experiences, and then uses all of them to construct understanding. Constructivists say that the child is the 'maker of meaning'; ownership of learning: because a student is directly involved with the environment and with assorted learning experiences, he or she feels more invested and more excited about learning.

It is fairly common to see younger children learning by experimenting with and exploring materials and resources in most schools. What is unique about the School for Children is that this kind of learning is extended throughout all the grades. Our commitment to the principles outlined above means that we organize our classrooms in a particular way, use teaching strategies that will encourage children to make discoveries and, perhaps most importantly, provide children with the time to 'make meaning.' Consequently, we choose fewer topics than traditional schools do, but we organize and develop these topics more thoroughly and in more depth. A unit that might take one month in a more traditional curriculum might last as long as three months at Bank Street." Extracted from

Home-School Connection

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Sit on the board of trustees
  • 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
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school