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.

MCNS serves children whose parents are affiliated with Columbia University, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, as well as families from surrounding communities including northern Manhattan.

MCNS offers three program options available for each of the three classrooms: Explorers (starting at age 2), Pathfinders, and Trailblazers. History on the classroom names is archived here.

Academic Year early September through mid-June

Morning Half Day thirty-seven week program 8:00 A.M. - 12:45 P.M.

Extended Day thirty-seven week program 8:00 A.M. - 3:30 P.M.

Full Day forty-two week program 8:00 A.M. - 5:45 P.M.

For the thirty-seven week programs, additional coverage may be arranged in advance. This coverage is available during the additional weeks when the full day students are in attendance, or to extend care for select days if necessary. Please contact us to discuss availability and cost.

The daily schedule affords children time to explore materials in their classroom, to participate in whole group activities and events, and to engage in both indoor and outdoor gross motor activity.  Specialists in music, dramatic arts, movement, and science enhance, supplement, and coordinate with the regular classroom programs on a daily basis. 

The schedules for the various classrooms remain quite consistent throughout the year to allow the children to internalize routines and to develop comfort and a sense of security and well-being in a predictable and safe environment.



Our Explorers program provides an opportunity for positive peer socialization in a group setting.  The children learn to respectfully interact with each other in a supportive and nurturing environment. The relationships they build with their teachers and classmates help acquire independence in their time away from their parent or caregiver, while also helping to develop the skills necessary to communicate with adults and peers.

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

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



The Pathfinders program 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 an 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 free play.  . A variety of different books and authors are introduced to the children, aiding in the development of language and ideas.

The teachers take pride in providing children with the skills needed to succeed the the following year in the Trailblazers classroom.



The Trailblazers program builds on the experiences from our Explorers and Pathfinders programs. The teachers provide wide-ranging 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. 

Classroom studies become more elaborate, last for longer periods of time, and incorporate kindergarten readiness skills such as pre-literacy skills, mathematical concepts, and fine motor skills are woven into classroom activities and during free play. The concept that children are part of a caring classroom community is something that each teacher works to help the children understand. We give our Trailblazers students the confidence and experiences necessary to enable a seamless and successful transition to kindergarten.