Pre-School Alternatives Fare Well in Tough Times


By Pamela Weinberg

Nursery school admission notifications are coming up next month, and for many New York City parents this is a time fraught with anxiety.  It is not the “thick envelope/thin envelope” dance we remember from applying to college, but rather a letter telling prospective parents that we have “space” or we don’t have “space” for your child at this time.  Take heart, most children who apply to nursery school do get in to at least one school. Sometimes it is not the family’s first choice school, but there is almost always a place for each child who wants one.

With the economic downturn however, there are families who are opting not to send their children to nursery school at all, or at least to wait until their child is four. Will this derail a future acceptance to Harvard?  Not likely.  One of the main goals of pre-school for children is being part of a community and learning how to socialize by advancing their play.

Children can acquire these skills through a parent-led playgroup in their own home, or by a pre-school alternative program which is geared toward children 18 months to three years.  Pre-school alternative programs are often held in classrooms which are set up like a nursery school classroom. They typically have a gentle separation program (especially for two and three year olds) and offer a curriculum similar to that of most pre-schools. A day at a pre-school alternative program might include:  story time, music and art, imaginative play and lots of time for socialization.

There are many pre-school alternative programs in New York City that cost a lot less than traditional nursery school and offer children the opportunity to socialize in a school-like setting.  Most programs are offered anywhere from one to three times per week.  Some to check out are:

Moon Soup
1059 Second Avenue (between 55th and 56th Streets)

Gymtime Rhythm and Glues
1520 York Avenue (80th Street)
New York, NY   10028

PlayTogether NYC
Two Upper West Side locations

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