Author Topic: Navigating NYC schools, pre-school  (Read 862 times)


  • Handlebar Stache
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Navigating NYC schools, pre-school
« on: March 05, 2018, 02:31:05 PM »

I'm kind of disheartened with our options which appear to be all or nothing. There's the cheap and chaotic daycare or $36k nursery schools. We're in Harlem. Any suggestions?

I did look into a couple options for next year, one was a montessori school which I had heard had decent financial aid options but I guess that info was old, the other was a sliding scale morning program but wouldn't take us if we also used daycare, which we definitely need with our work schedules.  So now I've got my eye on the year after, for 3-year-old programs, but need ideas.


  • Stubble
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Re: Navigating NYC schools, pre-school
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2018, 02:13:36 PM »
Not sure if you're religious, but when we lived in NYC we seriously considered joining a particular church that was also known to have a good pre-school program. I can't remember the name or the costs of the school because it was six years ago, but faith based programs might run less?


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Navigating NYC schools, pre-school
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2018, 09:50:03 AM »
I am not in New York either, but have found locally that my experience concurs with EmFrugal's; church-based pre-schools were absolutely the best value for the money here. I have a friend whose husband was a seriously staunch atheist and even he agreed to send their kids to the church preschool near us because of the vast disparity in cost. Best of luck in your search; daycare and preschool searching was so stressful for us.


  • Bristles
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Re: Navigating NYC schools, pre-school
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2018, 12:16:43 PM »
If your kid is turning 3 this year, free universal pre-k 3 has already started in several districts, including Harlem:

Now is the time to apply. Unfortunately, this isn't available in our outer-borough neighborhood. We currently pay $15k a year, which is below market rate, for our son to go to a neighborhood home daycare full-time. We lucked out: our daycare lady has a daily helper for 7 infants and younger toddlers, and she's become like grandma to him. We're also looking at 3-year-old programs, since I think DS is outgrowing his current setting, and I think we're just going to pony up the $30k it costs for nursery school in our neighborhood to bridge him to universal pre-k 4.

If you're looking for home daycare, you can search:

We visited a number of places, and, at one, there appeared to be 2 adults overseeing 15 toddlers napping on the floor of a small apartment. They slept under some precarious-looking shelves and an enormous not very well-stabilized aquarium. During the time we were there, something fell off one of the shelves, hit a toddler in the head, and he started crying. So the settings vary a lot. I would ask friends, neighbors, and everyone in your network for recommendations. The place we eventually went with was recommended by a neighbor.

Another option is a nanny share. Your child can split a nanny with another toddler and each pay around $20k. If you're truly low income, which I'm guessing you're not if you're at all considering 36K nursery schools, ACS has free childcare programs for up to 10 hours a day for parents who qualify for public assistance.