By Bohemia Agent Kelly Mares
As a parent of an almost 4 year old boy, I have learned a lot about the daunting task of child care and the education of children in New York City. And, boy, the education is just beginning!
As my husband and I embark upon the Public versus Private, Zoned versus Dezoned, Gifted & Talented versus General Population, Standard Education versus Music & Arts Programs options (just to name a few) for Kindergarten schooling in NYC, I feel compelled to share and thank the day care and preschool that have already helped shape our curious and precocious little guy.
After a disappointing search for day cares when my husband and I had conflicting schedules, we finally found (through a recommended day care list)
BRIGHT BEGINNINGS DAY CARE, in Washington Heights. Located directly across the street from J. Hood Wright Park on 173rd Street and Haven Avenue, it is a surprise to learn that it is a day care and not a pre-school. This is due mainly to the fact that the owner and head provider, Stephanie Aviles, organizes and runs this facility so cleanly and thoughtfully that it feels like is must be a preschool. (These descriptions shouldn’t be so rare, but sadly, we found too many other places that were neither clean, nor thoughtful in their day care approaches!) Bright Beginnings Day Care is an organized, loving, clean, and safe environment, where children from ages 6 months to 5 years, “Play, Learn and Grow, Together”.
Our son thrived here and looked forward to going to “school” every day. He engaged in such activities as piano, yoga, dance, Spanish, playground park visits almost daily, and outings to the Public Library. They also fed him healthy and organic meals and snacks every day. He attended this day care from age 1 through age 2 ½. And although we, and more importantly, HE, loved it at Bright Beginnings, we knew that our son needed to advance into the official preschool environment. We worried that it would be difficult to find a comparable, let alone better, preschool to warrant taking him out of this stellar program. Until we found Peartree Preschool, in Harlem.
PEARTREE PRESCHOOL is located on West 112th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. It was started by our friend from the neighborhood, Denise Adusei, who was frustrated by the lack of promising preschool options in the area for her own young girls. This resulted in her getting her degree and opening her own program! And Peartree blossomed as a result of her great efforts.
Our son has been attending this school for the past year, and continues there through this year before we head off to kindergarten next Fall. Peartree has been invaluable to our son’s education and social formulation during these precious years. He hears no less than four languages in his daily routine, as this is a very eclectic and international group of children ages 2-5 years old, here.
As they describe their program: “We focus on the ‘whole child,’ through creative exploration and play, we support each child’s cognitive, physical, emotional, and social growth. Our program incorporates social and environmental awareness and emphasizes earth-friendly practices and healthy choices. We believe children learn through their play. We integrate art, music, nature, creative movement, sensory materials, free and dramatic play, cooking, science, stories, and outdoor play to explore the environment and for the children to become knowledgeable and comfortable in their interactions with the world.” – Peartree Preschool – Smart By Nature
Our son participates in Yoga, Capoeira, Park Time, Art, Music, Writing, and so much more every day at Peartree. It is a joy to know he is in a fun and happy environment while he is learning at such a rapid rate. We will be sad to leave this preschool when we move on next year, but we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to have our son learn both here and at Bright Beginnings. Peartree’s enrollment has nearly doubled since we came there last year. As such, I know Denise is looking for other options to expand and open other schools in the area, so keep your eyes peeled for other beautiful blossoms!
There are options for your child’s education where you will feel good and contented leaving your child for the day. And you don’t have to live downtown to find them! These are two shining examples! But you have to search, go and experience them, and trust your gut! (I heed these words for myself as we embark on the next chapter – kindergarten!)
Good luck parents! We can do this! Oh, the places we’ll go…!