Henry Street Settlement Day Care
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Admission limited to low-income families
Founded in 1893 on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Henry Street Settlement has two pre-kindergarten classes as part of a wide range of social services, arts and health care programs. Pre-k hours are from 8:30 am to 3 pm but there are "wrap-around" hours from 8 am to 6 pm available to working parents, for a fee.
The building, across the street from Vladeck Houses, was undergoing a renovation at the time of our visit, including a new kitchen and fresh paint to lighten dark cinderblock hallways. The classrooms themselves boast big windows, but more importantly, attentive teachers encourage kids to talk as they work and playand provide clear limits that help them feel safe. Children walk to neighborhood playgrounds or play in the spacious gym on rainy days.
The rooms were filled with a busy hum during our morning visit. It was still early in the school year, yet routines had been clearly established. Children carried self-chosen activities to tables and put them away, unasked, when they finished. Adults moved to potential areas of conflict with matter-of-fact statements: "You can share," "Play together," or "Lend a helping hand," to which children readily responded. Teachers also furthered children's explorations with questions such as: "Which one is longer?" "Can you add to the length?"We also watched a teacher gently set clear boundaries for a child who had ignored a final reminder for the optional breakfast offered, telling her that she needed to eat first, play later, and allowing the natural consequence take its course.
Teachers spoke fondly about their students. "It's a very good bunch," said a teacher who had studied at Hunter College and was bilingual in Chinese and English. Children take field trip to pick pumpkins and to Coney Island. They also go on neighborhood walks. The child-size bathrooms are a short distance down the hall and children visit them with a teacher.
Admissions: Open to families who meet income requirements. There were about five spaces still open, due in part to the many new pre-k options for families in the neighborhood. (Lydie Raschka, September 2015)Read more