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Selecting Preschools

There are over 1,000 public pre-kindergarten programs as well as more than 350 private preschools and day care centers in New York City. They vary by cost, educational approach, size, religious affiliation and the number of hours and days they offer preschool programs. To help you determine which preschools have the characteristics that best meet your needs, this section explains the various educational philosophies to which the preschools adhere and the differences between public and private preschools.

Educational Philosophies

Although there are three main approaches to preschool education—Montessori, Developmental, and Traditional—there are many preschools that follow different educational philosophies. Eclectic preschools choose not to ascribe to any one of the three aforementioned approaches but combine at least two of the three. Moreover, there are play-based, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf and cooperative preschools. There are also over 100 day care centers around the city that are less structured than nursery schools but offer longer hours in an intellectually and socially stimulating environment.

Please click on preschool educational philosophies to learn more about the different approaches to early childhood education.

Public vs. Private Schools

There are many good pre-kindergarten opportunities that are free. Unfortunately, there are not enough seats to accommodate all of the 4 year olds in New York City; however, the City is planning on increasing the capacity. Moreover, the public preschools generally only offer half -day programs, and some can be overcrowded. To learn more about the public preschools, please click on the following link:

There are also hundreds of private nursery schools and day care centers that provide an excellent education. Compared to public preschool programs, they tend to serve younger children, hold longer hours, have smaller class sizes and provide more resources. Unfortunately, they are not free.