Frequently Asked Questions
How is the Early Childhood Center different from other pre-schools and nursery schools?
Certainly as a lab school we are set apart from other programs. Our location on the gorgeous campus of Sarah Lawrence College gives us a wonderful backdrop to explore, and a natural extension to the classrooms. The ECC children are welcome visitors to many parts of the campus. We have access to the Sports Center, greenhouse, theatre facilities, and science buildings, as well as the sprawling grounds of the College.
Most nursery programs or early childhood programs talk about readiness for school. Our idea of readiness differs a bit perhaps from other programs. We are very concerned about children having opportunities to learn to negotiate, try things out in ways that make sense to them, to question, to have choice of materials. We want two year olds to work at being "two"…that means saying "no" is okay and expected, that sharing isn’t the expectation, and that separation, whether easy or difficult, IS the task of the two year old. We want three year olds to have the experience of moving outside of the home world, and to step gently into the classroom space. We want them to be three; to try things on their own terms, to feel great about their "three-ness". Four years olds have a lot to say about the world around them, and the people within that world. They need lots of opportunities to negotiate, mostly on their terms. Adults around four year olds need to give them great space to try out those big ideas. Fives, and then sixes, are beginning to move into more formal thinking, but spend a great deal of time moving back and forth from formal to more playful ideas. They, too, need opportunity to play, to build, to draw, to connect to the world in ways that make sense to them. So, at the ECC, our idea of readiness involves children working hard at wherever they are, mastering that stage, and taking the next steps with patience and encouragement by those adults in the classroom with them. These are the "readiness" skills that can’t be taught. They must be modeled and practiced and experienced over and over. Children who accomplish these skills are truly ready for whatever comes next!
Simply put, the Early Childhood Center is a place where children can be children.
I’ve heard the Early Childhood Center referred to as a "laboratory school"—what exactly does that mean?
For an in-depth look at what it means to be a lab school, please see What is a Laboratory School?
How involved will I be with my child’s life at the Early Childhood Center?
The ECC has a Parent’s Association (PA) that each family is a part of as a member of the ECC community. Parents can choose to be as active as they are comfortable. The PA sponsors events such as music concerts for the children, story telling, fall and spring family picnics, and an annual fundraising event, as well as community awareness events such as food pantry collections, clothing drives and the like. Parents are welcome to visit the classrooms, but it is with the individual child’s interest in mind.
Does my child have to start at the Early Childhood Center at age two? Or can my child enroll at any age?
Children can start the ECC at any age, although, starting earlier guarantees placement in subsequent classes.
What is the class structure like at the Early Childhood Center?
The Early Childhood Center provides a varied pattern of morning and afternoon classes. Younger children attend two or three half-days per week, and older children attend five times per week. Classes are in session from early September to mid-May, in accordance with the College calendar. A separate summer session is offered as well for children currently enrolled in the center. Each class is taught by a master teacher of early childhood education, a graduate student assistant teacher, and several student assistants. Learn more about Who We Are and our Programs and Schedules.
What is the academic calendar for the Early Childhood Center?
The ECC follows the Sarah Lawrence College calendar. As we rely so much on our college students, running the program when the College is not in session is not an option for us. We have an extended winter break and a spring break in March.
What is the tuition for the Early Childhood Center?
For detailed information, please see the Tuition page.
Can I tour the facilities or observe a classroom prior to applying?
Yes, you are welcome to visit the Early Childhood Center! During our regular enrollment period in the fall, we ask that applications be received prior to your visit. (Please note that your application is not considered "active" until we receive the $75 application fee). The ECC director tours each family individually. We ask that children are not part of the visit.
What are the criteria for acceptance to the Early Childhood Center?
The Early Childhood Center welcomes families from all socioeconomic, racial, and cultural backgrounds. We aim to reflect the world community and are committed to diversity among staff, teachers, and students. Priority placement is given to children enrolled in and attending the Early Childhood Center and siblings of present students. In priority cases, applications are still expected within the application period. We cannot guarantee enrollment if applications are turned in after the deadline. Priority is not a guaranteed space, but a consideration before other applicants. The most important criteria for acceptance is that the applicants feel comfortable with the learning environment of the ECC and that our pedagogy is a good match for the child.
When is the deadline to apply?
Our regular application period ends December 15. Letters of acceptance are sent out in early January. At that time, if spaces are still available, we will continue the application process. It is always recommended that you call to inquire about availability at any point of the year. We always welcome visits and inquiries after December 15!