Bronx House 1
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Lots of play and exploration with experienced teachers
No outdoor playground
Opened in 1911 as a Jewish community center, Bronx House offers swimming, day camps, dance, drama, yoga and other programs for all ages. Within the building there are five pre-kindergarten classrooms founded in 2003. (Bronx House 2, a second location, has four classrooms in Pelham Parkway Houses, an easy five-minute walk away.)
The classrooms are dynamic, friendly places where kids ask questions, work together and lean comfortably against their teachers. Rooms are equipped with blocks, light tables, dress-up and books. Clay, paint and scissors give kids a chance to practice pre-writing skills and the walls have pictures and words to help them learn to read. After building a road with blocks, a boy paused and looked intently at a picture of a construction site on the wall then went to pick up a wooden "yield," sign off the shelf and held it up to find it matched a yield sign in the photoa sign he was getting ready to read. Children stacked blocks on shelves and returned puzzles and toys to baskets after choice time following well established routines. A child set out the napkins for snack and called names to sit at tables. Teachers pick up on topics of interest to children for further exploration; on our visit, one class explored the theme of water by painting pictures of glaciers and graphing the amount of water that fell into a cup when it rained.
Bronx House is popular with Albert Einstein College of Medicine employees and residents and also has unemployed parents. Some children come from China, Albania, Mexico, Pakistan and other parts of the world. They come with and without special needs, and while some families receive free lunch, others can easily afford the $300 a month for extra childcare hours from 8 am to 6 pm.
Director Serene Stevens worked for eight years at Children's Aid Society in Greenwich Village before it closed. A mother of three children, she is a fan of progressive schools and is committed to keeping play-based learning in the Bronx House pre-k program.
There is no outdoor play area, but children visit the gym daily.
Admissions: At the time of our visit there were still a dozen open spots at Bronx House, because of new pre-k options in the neighborhood. (Lydie Raschka, December 2015)Read more