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Riverside Church Weekday School

490 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10027

(212) 870-6743


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The Riverside Church Weekday School has a rich, eighty-three year history of educating children to change the world. Established in 1930, Weekday is a non-denominational, early childhood school serving children ages two through five in a joy-filled, nurturing setting committed to addressing the unique needs of young children. Our school’s mission, inspired by the spirit of the Riverside Church mission, is to nurture an awareness of diversity, mutual respect, compassion, empathy and community.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based, Reggio-Emilia

From the Director:

The Weekday School offers a play-based curriculum drawing upon elements from a range of well-established early childhood approaches. The arts are fully integrated into the curriculum supported by an expert staff of professionals in the fields of art, dance/movement and music. Recognizing the importance of environment as a teaching tool, all Weekday spaces are intentionally designed and crafted to value the children’s educational experience and support learning. The Weekday School offers various learning centers including which encourage exploration and experimentation while developing creative and critical thinking. The daily schedule allows for both structured and unstructured experiences. The children are encouraged to make independent choices within a basic instructional framework. Using a constructivist pedagogical approach, teachers skillfully plan and design activities and projects that extend the children's play into deeper and more meaningful learning experiences. With attention to age-appropriate initiatives, most of the curriculum emerges out of the children's interests and play. We value active, engaged, experience-based learning which honors the physical, intellectual, social and emotional development of each child. Opportunities are provided for self-directed, experiential, and active learning. Teachers make activities meaningful by accompanying them with talking, interacting, and by posing open-ended questions. We value process over product and our teachers engage the children to deepen each learning experience. Teachers are attuned to the various strengths and needs of each individual student and employ techniques which align with all learning styles.

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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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • 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
  • Tricycles
  • 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:

All Weekday School classrooms are alive with a range of symbolic language where children can discover and explore the communicative potential of pictures, symbols, and print. Verbal story telling and reading are also components of our classrooms. Children are invited to talk about their feelings and dictate their thoughts and stories. Children are also encouraged to write by assigning meaning to their own symbols through pretend writing and invented spellings.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

The professional staff of the Weekday School is made up of administrators and teachers who are committed, dedicated and passionate progressive educators, devoted to life-long learning and willing to employ any and all means available to help each individual child grow. Each classroom has one Head Teacher and one Assistant Teacher. All Head Teachers hold a Masters Degree and are specialists in early childhood education. All Assistant Teachers hold a Bachelor’s Degree. All teachers are offered a number of opportunities for on-going professional development each year both on and off-site and are supported financially in this effort by the administration. The Weekday program is further supported by expert professionals in the fields of art, dance/movement and music through an integrated curriculum in partnership and collaboration with all classroom teachers.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

"The school philosophy is based on a multicultural approach to teaching young children, and we believe that learning best occurs when new concepts build upon each child's prior experiences. By accepting each child's experiences and drawing them into the curriculum, we are in fact, affirming their individual backgrounds and cultures which results in a tremendous increase in their self-confidence and self-esteem. This belief leads to a strong emphasis on family involvement both inside and outside the classrooms. Effective communication between parents and teachers builds a level of trust, comfort and clarity within the school community." (SOURCE:

A Typical Day

Children and parents are greeted at each classroom door and are offered a wide range of choices for free play. Morning meeting follows where the children have the opportunity to share their current interests and describe out of school activities. The schedule for that particular day is also presented at this meeting. This will include choice activity time when children can choose art, dramatic play, reading area, writing and drawing, block building, light, sand and water tables, or manipulatives. Other parts of the morning schedule include going to the outdoor or indoor play areas, circle time, snack and lunch. Those children who stay for the extended day then have a rest period followed by a variety of afternoon activities including art studio, free play and small group work.

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

We at Weekday recognize that parents are the first and best teachers of their children. As such, parent involvement is central to our character as a community-based pre-school. Families are encouraged to share their skills and talents within the classroom, read a story, or join the class on field trips. It is our hope that all parents become active members of the Parent Association and willingly serve as chairpersons for various activities and events throughout the year.

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • 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
  • Small group sessions
  • Parents in classroom early on
  • Abbreviated schedule at start of school year

Handling Separation: From the Director

The separation process at Weekday is a gradual process. All families meet the student’s teachers prior to starting school during a home visit or an individual meeting in the classroom. Teachers collaborate with parents to develop a reasonable plan for separation at the beginning of each school year. We value the parents’ role in developing a new bond of trust between the child and the teachers. This partnership between family and school assists children phase in to school on a schedule that has been tailored to the needs of each age group. A special orientation schedule is provided to each family before school opens. The schedule is most flexible for the youngest students in the part-time two’s program where teachers recognize that it takes time for a child to become comfortable in a new environment.