“Play is the beginning of knowledge.” Rutgers Community Programs adopted this motto from anthropologist George Dorsey and has built its foundation on this principle. Children learn by doing … or at Rutgers, by playing.
Located at 236 West 73rd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue, Rutgers Community Programs is the ideal pre-school for parents seeking a shorter school day with a focus on small class sizes and experiential learning in relationship-driven environments.
In a facility that includes a full-sized gym, an art studio, a roof deck, and beautifully equipped classrooms, Rutgers offers the community a unique, learning environment.
Rutgers has created a close-knit community; most teachers have been with the program for several years and remain connected to Rutgers families long after their children have moved on to grade school.
Rutgers Community Programs also offers a welcoming and inclusive environment. There’s no rigorous application process; if spaces are available and parents want to enroll their children, they can.
Play rules at Rutgers. Creativity and imagination are key.
Rutgers Community Programs firmly believes that preschoolers learn through play and that it can unlock true potential and unveil real passions and talent. As Paul Tullis notes in his article The Death of Preschool, “nearly all developmental psychologists, neuroscientists and education experts recommend [play] for children up to age seven as the best way to nurture kids’ development and ready them for academic success later in life.” To read more on Rutgers’ philosophy, click this link.
Play Starts at 2
Rutgers’ currently offers a session for 2s called On My Own and two sessions for 3 and 4 year olds called Ready, Set, Go!
In On My Own, two-year-olds are given a “gentle transition to drop-off,” with the ultimate goal of enabling children to feel “comfortable and confident on their own through a hands-on, adult-directed activity, and child-led imaginative play.”
For three and four-year-old kids, Ready, Set, Go! “employ[s] an emergent curriculum that is based in play, creating activities according to the children’s interests, making classroom experiences dynamic and meaningful. Children also learn, play, and explore in [Rutgers’] art studio, gym, roof, ‘indoor playground,’ as well as on selected trips around the neighborhood. Block building, sensory play, science, and story time activities are key components of our program.” More information about this program is available here.
Recently, a Ready, Set, Go! class for 3s and 4s took an interest in buildings. The group then spent the next week learning how buildings change over time and how to navigate the Upper West Side using maps. They worked in teams to construct their own versions of city blocks and interviewed members of our community to learn more about the buildings in the area.
Last year Central Park served as the inspiration for another group of three and four year olds. They explored sections of the park, built their own models of it, and collected items from nature, culminating in a group art installation inspired by the work of Andy Goldsworthy.
In another class, a fall discussion about apples evolved into questions about what can be made with them. Once the children determined that apples can be used in pies, they visited a local diner and interviewed the bakers there. After many months, the children then built a pie shop, made three different kinds of pies, and opened for business in early spring. Each assumed different roles at the shop: some took orders, some handled the cash, and others packaged and delivered to their customers. Proceeds were used to buy a small classroom greenhouse.
As the examples show, learning opportunities are in abundance at Rutgers. But just as important is the sense of community and connection children have there, where children feel at home, make long-lasting friendships, and have lots of fun.
The staff are also committed to keeping the entire Rutgers family safe as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues. All employees are vaccinated and masked while indoors. Children are required to undergo daily health screenings and frequent hand hygiene.
Upcoming informational sessions about the 2022-2023 play programs are available on October 28, November 9, November 16 and November 30 through Zoom, which will include both Ready, Set, Go! and On My Own.
To register, contact Director Jennifer Moore here.