Early childhood education is based upon helping a child begin to understand and appreciate himself or herself, and to interact and communicate comfortably with others. Our school’s philosophy is that these developments are encouraged most effectively in a warm, intimate environment where young children play, interact, and learn under the guidance of nurturing, well-trained, and experienced teachers.

The Value of Play

The school's conviction of the value of play in the lives of young children is absolute. Young children typically integrate what is meaningful to them. They understand and remember new concepts and ideas that relate to their experiences, knowledge, and the skills they have already internalized. As a result, young children learn best by working with materials, engaging themselves with challenging problems that interest them, trying things and then trying again.

They learn by using their senses and by experimenting and exploring. They enrich their experiences and social skills by interacting with other children and adults. The classroom is their laboratory, and their teachers are both guides and facilitators in their learning process. MCNS therefore provides its youngsters with a great variety of materials and activities to stimulate their play, knowing that young children learn naturally because they are motivated by their own desire to make sense of the world. The teachers are trained and experienced in providing the appropriate support and encouragement that each child needs to move forward in their individual developmental stages.

Diversity & Columbia University

MCNS provides a setting in which diversity is a given and is fully respected. The school's staff composition well reflects the rich diversity of New York City. The children come from a variety of neighborhoods, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. They have a range of abilities and developmental levels, and are all encouraged to interact and learn together. With active parent participation, MCNS further enhances children’s exposure to multiple cultures and practices of the world in a respectful manner that celebrates the beauty and strengths of a diverse community.

The school’s affiliation with Columbia University and the Medical Center campus, which includes NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, comes with partnerships with the child psychology and psychiatry departments, amongst others. As a result, it should be understood that MCNS does permit carefully screened research projects, visitations by people from outside the school, and regular observations of typically developing young children in group settings. The children and the staff perceive and accept these activities as normal, routine parts of the program, and children only participate in individual activities if they consent to do so. In our experience, these interactions provide a rich resource of expert knowledge that benefits our entire community.