Program Information

The Medical Center Nursery School is an independent, not-for-profit early childhood school located at the Columbia University Medical Center campus in the Washington Heights section of northern Manhattan. It serves both the medical center and the community at large, offering three program options. Please scroll down for a more detailed description of our programs.

Morning Half Day (a thirty-seven week program)

8:00 A.M. - 12:45 P.M.

Extended Day (a thirty-seven week program)

8:00 A.M. - 3:30 P.M.

Full Day (a forty-two week program)

8:00 A.M. - 5:45 P.M.



Our Explorers program is for children turning 2 by September 1st and provides an opportunity for positive peer socialization in a group setting.  The children learn to kindly interact with each other in a supportive and nurturing environment. The relationships that they build with their teachers and classmates help them in many ways and aid with the process of separating from their parent or caregiver, while also helping to develop the skills needed to communicate with adults and peers.

The program provides a happy learning environment that fosters confidence, independence and exploration. It is designed specifically to meet the children’s individual needs while fostering a sense of curiosity, independence and confidence.

The Explorers program provides many varied and enjoyable experiences including music, story time, freeplay and art.  Children are frequently encouraged to use their senses to explore new and varied materials. 



The Pathfinders program is for children turning 3 by September 1st and allows children to learn through experience and interaction.  We encourage children to ask questions, experiment with new materials, solve problems, and learn social skills. We encourage the children’s developing curiosity about their world and their enthusiasm for learning. 

The children enjoy a variety of activities including cooking, curriculum-related art projects, and sensory experiences. Block building, dramatic play, sensory table, art, library area, and puzzles are some of the rich experiences the children enjoy during freeplay.  Everyone is encouraged to participate in these activities. 

The teacher take care in providing the children with the skills needed for the following year in the Trailblazers class. A variety of different books are read to the children and through this, language and ideas are developed and generated, resulting in rich discussions. 



The Trailblazers program is for children turning 4 by September 1st and builds on the experiences from our Explorers and Pathfinders programs.  The teachers provide varied experiences that foster the children’s ability to attend to and participate in group discussions, follow multi-step directions, and follow through with classroom routines and responsibilities. The idea that children are part of a caring classroom community is something that each classroom works to help the children understand.

Classroom studies become more elaborate, last for longer periods of time, and incorporate kindergarten readiness skills such as preliteracy skills, mathematical concepts and fine motor skills are woven into classroom activities and during freeplay. We give our Trailblazers students the confidence and experiences needed to make a smooth transition to kindergarten.