You will never find another school (in NYC or elsewhere) that takes such a considered, holistic approach to the child, and by extension, the child’s family.
DLS has helped two of my children (and by extension, my husband and I) through major life transitions: relocation from London to NYC, introduction of a nanny, switching to a new nanny, introduction of a new baby, and the death of their grandmother....In each instance, Kate and Meredith took the time to meet with me to understand the issue, talked me through how to handle/discuss it, and made a book, with photographs, illustrations, and simple text, to help my children process it all. We have kept every single book from the 4 years we’ve been at DLS and my children still read them on a regular basis.
When my eldest was in the purple room (age 4) at DLS, I sometimes got a little nervous that he barely knew all the letters of the alphabet and certainly did not know any of the sounds. I wondered how he would ever learn to read and worried that his peers, who had been drilled at other preschools, would make him feel inadequate once he joined them in K at PS 234. Quite the contrary. Because at DLS he learned how to approach learning and come up with solutions to problems, he easily mastered the building blocks of reading and quickly surpassed his peers in his reading level. I attribute it all to how he learned HOW TO LEARN at DLS.
DLS has played such an instrumental role in our lives in the last 4 years and I cannot thank everyone there enough.
—Lisa, Mother of J. and P. (ages 6 and 4)
DLS quickly gave my daughter a sense of security and community which allowed her to flourish socially and academically. The warm atmosphere and thoughtful, child-centered philosophy created an environment in which both our daughters felt supported and free to explore, learn and grow. DLS instilled in our daughters confidence and a love of school which has continued to this day.
There is something special about DLS which encourages meaningful connections.
Our daughters continue to have close friendships with their classmates from the Blue and Yellow rooms, years after leaving DLS, and many of our closest family friends are families we met at DLS. My older daughter now says that she wants to be a teacher at Downtown Little School when she grows up, so keep an eye out for her resume!
—Jen, Mother of J. and A. (ages 12 and 9)
More than anything else, they really understood my child. They really saw and appreciated who she was and could help me learn how to support her through whatever developmental or external event-related difficulty that she was
And though they don’t push values on you, it’s clear from they way they do things what theirs are: honesty, kindness, open-mindedness, to name a few.
The directors are wise and so experienced and they set the tone for the rest of the school. I think they attract teachers and staff who share these values and these are the kinds of people you want your kids to be around.
—Lisa, Mother of E. (age 3)
Downtown Little School is a magical place for both children and their parents. The staff has created a nurturing, warm and welcoming environment that draws you in and makes it hard to leave. It is a school that encourages every child to think, reason, question and experiment. Each child's physical and intellectual development is fostered with a variety of approaches that genuinely reflects his or her needs.
Socialization is a large component as children become part of a community that fosters care and compassion toward their peers.
Our three children all attended Downtown Little School and have the fondest memories of time spent there. Our oldest, who is now in high school has volunteered in the classrooms for community service and has even worked as an assistant counselor at their summer camp program. The friendships that were formed there are still part of our lives today. And we are very thankful to have been a part of this special school.
—Joanna, Mother of S., T., and J. (ages 16, 13, 10)
I have always maintained that DLS is an incredibly empowering place for young children. The teachers and directors create a warm, safe environment where the children feel cared for and are valued for who they are. The curriculum is rich and fosters independence, creativity, and exploration. One activity that comes to mind is that the children in the Purple Room make cookies in small groups without a teacher using a picture-book recipe. They have to interpret the recipe, figure out measurements, negotiate with each other who does what, and advocate for themselves. How amazing is that?! And best of all, they get to eat and share the cookies with their classmates afterwards.
DLS’ approach to separation is very illustrative of their philosophy: warm, caring, they give your child a push when the child is ready, and NOT one-size-fits-all.
What I love about DLS is that it is a safe environment all types of children, as all children have different strengths and needs. Instead of telling the children they have to do something a certain way, they ask themselves, “Can we figure out a way to make school a more productive experience for this child?”
—Rachi, Mother of P. (age 5)
We love the practical simplicity of the play-based program and it's focus on social/emotional development as a respite from the overly organized and pressurized early childhood NYC culture.
—Ashley, Mother of A. (age 3)
There are not enough words of praise to actually cover my whole-hearted feelings about The Downtown Little School. I can not imagine a better place, or way, for a young child to embark on the journey of their education. Not only does each child have a personally right and enriching experience at DLS but you, as a parent, are given the opportunity to grow with your child in an environment that is supportive, enlightening, and non-judgmental. This is a school where everyone truly knows your child and everyone truly is in your corner.
—Anne Marie, Mother of Q. (age 5)
From the first day when my son walked in and did not even look back - what separation anxiety? - to the date when my daughter went to DLS for the last time, the one thing that I have always felt is that my children are in a safe and caring environment.
—Shekhar, Father of I. and S. (ages 10 and 5)
Our two sons thrived at DLS. The school's philosophy, attention to individual childrens' needs, and wonderful teachers and administrators give us nothing but fond memories of our years there. We can't recommend it highly enough.
—Nick, Father of J. and S. (ages 8 and 5)