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First Presbyterian Nursery

12 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10001

(212) 691-3432


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

From the Director:

"The Nursery School's philosophy is known as 'developmental interaction.' 'Developmental' refers to the principle that children learn best when they are ready for new experiences and when these experiences build on earlier ones. The particular experiences are determined by a child's interests and abilities. 'Interaction' means learning through participation in a socially and physically responsive environment. The interactive classroom invites exploration, decision-making, problem-solving, and engagement with peers, teachers, and materials." Extracted from the school's website

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 more

More Information

  • A playground with climbing equipment
Other subjects taught

From the Director:

"A program of integrated activities is planned to meet the developmental needs of each age group. The program reflects our understanding of the importance of basic skills and information, as well as respect for the imagination and expressive abilities of each child and the talents of our knowledgeable and creative teachers. Because young children learn through play, the core of their school day is the activity/work time when they engage in dramatic play, block building, art, books, manipulative toys, water or salt table play. There are also periodic group activities such as cooking, planting, caring for classroom pets. All classes have time for active play on the roof playground, as well as several group times for story, snack, music, movement, and discussion." Extracted from school's website

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"The Nursery School is a program offered by the First Presbyterian Church of the City of New York as a service to its members and the community. It is non-sectarian and strives to reflect in its goals and practices the shared values of a diverse population. The School is dedicated to the social, emotional, physical and intellectual growth of all its students. Underlying development in all these areas is respect for one's own dignity and the dignity of others. Respect is a cornerstone of the School's philosophy and is modeled at all levels. Many aspects of diversity are represented by our families, children and staff, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, family configuration, socio-economic status, age, and abilities. We recognize that our school community is enriched by the unique individuality of each of its members. As we acknowledge and share our differences, we also discover our common humanity. Our curriculum includes experiences that help our children to understand and appreciate social and cultural differences in and beyond their immediate community. We hope they will grow up to be tolerant and appreciative of the range of humanity, having been nurtured by a school environment that is fair, trusting and inclusive. Abraham Foxman reminds us that 'children are born into this world without prejudice, but can learn prejudice as easily as the alphabet or tying their shoes.' It is known that infants distinguish between the familiar and the strange, the 'me' and the 'not me.' Children start to form groups at a young age, drawing boundaries between 'us' and 'them.' Therefore we must start as early as possible to instill in children positive images of themselves and others." Extracted from the preschool's website

A Typical Day

"The class schedule is largely the same from day to day in the life of a FPCNS student. The order of activities varies for each class, as each group has its own time on the playground and with the music, movement, and woodworking specialists. However, all groups enjoy a similar range of activities:
Arrival and Greeting Parents accompany children into classroom and may remain for the first 15 minutes.
Meeting Discussion - who's here, who's not, news, discussion of schedule and plans for the day.
Work Time Self-chosen and child-directed activities from a variety of materials and centers in the classroom. Can include small group, teacher-directed projects, jobs such as such as feeding classroom pets, watering plants, cooking projects, story dictation...
Cleanup Children put away their work and help each other to store toys and materials for the next 'work time'.
Toileting In child-sized bathrooms with small toilets and low sinks adjoining each classroom. The younger children are helped by a member of the teaching team; the older children can help themselves.
Book Time Children look at books, listen to a story or stories read by teacher.
Outdoor Play 'Roof' or playground time is part of the daily schedule unless it rains, when indoor play space is available. The roof has tricycles, wagons, balls, big blocks, a playhouse, and climbers offering a variety of physical challenges and dramatic play opportunities.
Dismissal" Extracted from school website

Home-School Connection

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are required to make donations ourselves
  • 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