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Medical Center Nursery SchoolMCNS)Director's welcome

I want to welcome you to The Medical Center Nursery School’sinformative and enlightening Website.  Although it is only a window intothe wonders and excitement that pervade the school, it will provide you withboth an introduction and an ongoing guide to the school’s rich andcomprehensive program for young children.

MCNS provides a nurturing and child-centered environmentwhere a diverse group of students and teachers plays, learns, and growstogether.   The beautiful facility, with light and airy classrooms,provides the perfect setting for children’s activities and an exciting bridgebetween children’s families and homes and the much larger world beyond.

MCNS will be a significant part of your child’s educationalcareer and will provide an important foundation for later learning andexperiences.   It is hoped that children will develop the ability toapproach the world with confidence and self-reliance, will internalize theskills necessary for beneficial and dynamic socialization with others, and willcultivate the ability to think and analyze and learn in productive and creativeways.

I trust that the Website will open the MCNS world to you andwill continue to be a helpful and beneficial tool to inform and update youabout the program and the school community.

Thank you for your ongoing interestin the school.

Most sincerely,
Howard E. Johnson










Our mission

The Mission of The Medical Center Nursery School, an earlychildhood school affiliated with and supported by Columbia University, is toprovide a secure, nurturing, developmentally appropriate educational settingfor children aged two to six.

We serve children from the following communities: ColumbiaUniversity; New York Presbyterian Hospital; the New York State PsychiatricInstitute; and northern Manhattan, specifically the Washington Heights andInwood neighborhoods.


我们服务的儿童社区来源包括:哥伦比亚大学; 纽约长老会医院; 纽约州精神病学研究所; 和曼哈顿北部,特别是华盛顿高地和因伍德社区

Who we are

The entire MCNS staff is responsiblefor the educational program and the day-to-day operation of the school.  The administration consists of the Director, the Assistant Director andAdmissions Coordinator, and the Educational Consultant and CurriculumSpecialist.  There are three Group Teachers for the four separateclasses.  Ten Assistant Teachers and one Aide complete the teachingstaff.  The specialists provide additional enrichment to theclasses.  The Consultants offer support and advice in the event ofconcerns or issues in the classrooms or provide their expertise to the staffand administration in specific areas.


MCNS的全体工作人员负责学校教育计划的实施和日常运作。 行政管理包括教导主任,助理主任,招生协调员,教育顾问及课程设计专家。这里共有三组教师负责四个独立的班级,并配有十名助教和一名教学勤杂员。专家提供丰富的课程科目。顾问在其特定领域给予专业辅助,给行政管理的决策以及教职员提供建议和指导。

Our Curriculum

Our curriculum utilizes materials and methods as they best suit youngchildren's needs and interests. MCNS begins with the understanding that eachchild needs to be appreciated and accepted and to appreciate and accept himselfor herself. Children participate in a variety of individual and groupactivities. Strong emphasis is placed upon exploration and discovery anddevelopment of personal satisfaction, independence, self- management skills,and motivation. In addition, focus is placed on each child's relationships withhis or her peers and with teaching adults and what it means to be part of agroup.



Positive Socialization


The development of positive social skills is a strong mandate of the school.If success in school and in life is the goal for children, the development ofpositive social skills is crucial. Children learn to understand social rolesthrough play. They learn to control impulses and learn how to give and take andmake compromises. Research confirms that social competency is a primaryindicator of success. This cannot be gained from worksheets or sitting alone ata computer working one’s way through even the most engaging educationalprograms. Problem-solving, leadership, and taking turns all are developedthrough play with other children.



Creativity and Artistic Expression


The curriculum naturally includes many activities which allow the childrenself-expression and help develop creativity, which is necessary to solve theproblems and meeting the challenges that we all encounter in life.Problem-solving, leadership, and cooperation all rely on the ability to be acreative thinker. The MCNS philosophy upholds the idea that in order forconstructive play to occur and creativity to develop there must be a strongunderlying structure that supports the play, a strong community of learnerswith whom to interact, and a general atmosphere that fosters creativity. Thevisual and musical arts provide young children opportunities to develop theircreative thinking and the creative process through the media they explore andmusical expression in which they engage. Art and music both play a criticalrole in the curriculum and allow ample opportunities for children to developage-appropriate mastery in these important areas.


领导与协同合作都依赖于潜在的创造性思维。 MCNS秉持的哲学观是,建设性活动的运作和创造力的开发,必须有构建组织活动的强大基础结构学生之间互动的有机组合以及孕育创造力的基本氛围。视觉和音乐艺术活动为儿童提供得以发展创造性思维并实践创作的机会,他们通过探索媒体活动和参与音乐的表达而实施运作。学校的艺术和音乐课程发挥着至关重要的作用,提供充足的机会让儿童在这些领域得以与其年龄段相匹配的适当发展



As Twlyla Tharp says, you can’t think outside the box until you have a box.The structure at MCNS is well-balanced and age-appropriate, and it works. Thechildren are learning, creating, and thriving. The teachers are responsible forkeeping the structure intact and both guiding and collaborating with thechildren as they explore materials and engage in activities throughout the day.Through careful observation teachers can evaluate the progress of individualchildren and become aware of topics that can be enhanced through further studyor additional materials. Open-ended questions can be posed to the children,questions that will build on their accomplishments or challenge them to thinkin a new direction. The emergent approach to curriculum gives freedom to boththe teachers and the children to develop projects and activities that areinteresting and challenging to both. The underlying structure established bythe teachers allows the children to take risks, explore, and experiment in asafe and nurturing environment. Creativity, interactions, and learning cannotexist in chaos, nor can they exist when curriculum is preprogrammed andclose-ended. Meet ourteaching staff as they interact with the children.


正如Twlyla Tharp(教师)所说:在你拥有一个盒子之前,你不会考虑到它的外表模样。MCNS有好的均衡结构,能够与年龄适当匹配的有成效工作。孩子们得以学习、创造和蓬勃发展。教师在负责保持结构完整性的基础上,全天参与和引导孩子们的活动,同时以协作的方式与孩子们一起探索周围的事物。通过仔细观察,教师能够评估每个孩子的进步,并能及时意识到需要加强的活动主题,也便进一步研究或改进教学内容。孩子们遇到的都是开放式的问题(问题没有固定答案),这些问题是建立在他们最终的解决成效或挑战他们找到一个新的思考方向。不断更新的课程提供给教师和孩子们去自由开发的科目和活动类型,这更能激发他们的兴趣,而且对他们也具有挑战性。教师所处的层次是在保证环境安全并内含丰富的前提上,鼓励孩子们敢于冒险和勇于探索。创造力,互动,和学习不能与混乱同在,也不能与预定课程和封闭式一层不变的课程并存。

To see a slide show of our childrenin action, select an image below.

  • Artists艺术家


  • Chefs厨师


  • Gymnasts体操运动员


  • Mathematicians数学家


  • Musicians音乐家


  • Scientists科学家


  • Story Tellers讲故事


What We Do


We are a play-centeredschool. We believe that the best and most effective way for young children tolearn is through their play. Play, according to L.S. Vygotsky and Jean Piaget,among many other educational researchers, is children’s work. It is seriousbusiness. Children concentrate when they play and become deep thinkers.Unfortunately, to many people, "play" suggests that not only is theday unstructured but that children “are wasting valuable time playing and arenot "learning" and developing.

Many people assume that aplay-centered school lacks the structure and substance of a so-called"academic" school. What may not be clear to the casual observer,however, is the underlying structure that supports the play, which, in turn,encourages the learning that occurs through self-initiated play, and guides theemergent curriculum that is the basis of all we do.

In fact, MCNS is very structured.But the structure doesn’t lie in daily lesson plans or work sheets. It does notlie in a full day of teacher-directed activities. The structure at MCNS istwo-fold. The first is in the physical plant, the carefully designed classroomspaces and contents of the areas within them. The second is in the dailyschedule, the flow of large and small motor activities, large group, smallgroup and individual activities, eating and rest periods, music, story anddiscussion times. Combine those two underlying structures and you have theideal learning environment for young children to flourish.



我们学校以游戏活动为中心。我们相信,儿童最好和最有效的学习方法是通过游戏活动学习。根据L S﹒VygotskyJean Piaget (也包括许多其他研究教育的人士) 的观点认为,组织活动就是儿童的工作,而是严肃的工作。孩子们在玩活动时会集中精力,进而成为深度思考者。令人惋惜的是有很多人认为:玩耍不仅无规则可循而且浪费时间,孩子什么也学不到,不利于他们发育。


事实上,MCNS的组织非常结构化。但我们的结构不在于每日课程计划或作业本。它不在于老师全天的指导活动。 MCNS的结构是双重的。首先这里是适合自然生理特征的场合,体现在精心设计的教室空间及其中的内含物件。第二是在每日日程安排,包括大小型的肢体运动,大小组和个人的各种活动,饮食和休息安排,以及音乐、讲故事和讨论时间。这两项结合起来,你们可以想象到这里的环境是儿童的理想学习场合,有利于他们蓬勃健康地发展。

We lay a foundation for life skills

We believe that children are on alife-long learning path. The life skills of observation, personal control, andgoal setting are a key focus of our curriculum. Our program is child centered,not teacher centered.. The explorations and development of each child areobserved, nutured and encouraged by all staff and professionals in our school.We promote independence. All aspects of the program are structured to encourageindependence and develop competance. "I can do it all by myself" is aphrase we all love to hear. When children learn to take responsibility fortheir everyday needs, they feel a great sense of pride. Whether it is puttingaway toys, setting up cots at rest time, setting the table for snack, orpouring juice into their own cups, children work on both large and small motorskills, become good problems-solvers by strategizing and carrying out plans,and increase social skills as they learn how to work together in a cooperativemanner. Children feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when they can do realwork, such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of things by themselves withno assistance from adults. In our current educational climate, which focuses onworkbooks, computers, and testing, we sometimes forget how many academic skillscan be learned through doing this practical kind of work.



How we redefined our Class Names

Words matter. Names matter. To young children who are absorbing an enormousnumber of new vocabulary words each day, words are really important. Callingsomeone a name can hurt him, in point of fact. And employing a "badword" can get immediate attention from adults.

Many parents struggle with the task of naming their children. What does thename mean and how will that affect the child? Companies test market productnames because they know that what something is called affects sales figures.Lawsuits challenge names that are offensive to some and protect names frombeing used by others.



The Story Behind the Class Name Changes

Words matter. Names matter. To young children who are absorbing an enormousnumber of new vocabulary words each day, words are really important. Callingsomeone a name can hurt him, in point of fact. And employing a "badword" can get immediate attention from adults.

Many parents struggle with the task of naming their children. What does thename mean and how will that affect the child? Companies test market productnames because they know that what something is called affects sales figures.Lawsuits challenge names that are offensive to some and protect names frombeing used by others.

For many years the MCNS staff has been thinking about the names of our fourclassroom groups. Many years ago, our groups had a different age makeup fromwhat they do now. There was a group of 3's, another of 4's, a Kindergarten, anda mixed-age group that met in the afternoons.

When the school started to get younger. Our Kindergarten class became amixed group of 4's and 5's and eventually all 4's. The name Kindergarten nolonger was accurate. We had a "Young Group." Should the formerKindergarten be renamed the "Old Group?" But that didn't seem quiteright because, after all, they were only four, not eighty-four years old. So"Older Group" was chosen. That left the "Middle Group,"middle as in the middle child in a family and the "Afternoon Group,"afternoon describing the time of day it met rather than the group itself.

Time marched on and the age range in the school narrowed. The ages of thechildren in the groups overlapped. It was clear that the name "OlderGroup" had an unintended meaning to both children and parents. Older wassomehow very desirable. Young children always want to be older. Older seems tosignify more advanced, more academic activity to some parents, which is not anaccurate description of our child-centered, hands-on curriculum."Young" meant the "babies" to some children, and no onewants to be called a baby. Changing the names became a concern again.

Both Liege Motta, our Educational Consultant, and Howard did some research:What do other nursery schools call their groups? Some use colors, othersnumbers, animals or other miscellaneous flora and fauna. Liege, during herinternet search, found some perfectly dreadful, inexplicable names. Can youimagine the behavior of a group called "Little Monsters?"

In one of the workshops during the NAEYC accreditation process, Howard,Liege, Linda and the teaching staff decided to work on this challenge and tryto come up with better names for the groups. One idea that came out of thisexercise was to connect the names with the spectacular location of our schoolon the Hudson River. This was left to percolate.

Finally last summer, Howard, Liege and Linda went back and reconsidered someof the names other schools use. They looked at all of the names that theteachers had considered which were tied to the location of the school: bridge;river; Hudson; park. None seemed right. But, why?
It occurred to them that maybe the problem was that they were focusing on therooms, not the children themselves. So they decided to focus on the children.The more they thought about them, the more they wanted to try to connote thelearning process and activities of the children, and how they progress andlearn. Looking out at the river, they thought about Henry Hudson and the otherexplorers who came to our area. They had been exploring territory that waspreviously unknown to them. Well, isn't that what nursery school is all about?

Our 2's are making discoveries about a new world, things that they havenever seen before, experiences they have never known. What if they were called"The Explorers?" The oldest children in the school are blazing thetrail for the younger ones as they prepare to move out into the world. Howabout renaming the "Older Group" "The Trailblazers?" Thesenames were feeling right. They described the children in the groups. Now on aroll, Howard, Linda and Liege turned to the remaining groups. "Pathfinders"seemed perfect for the "Middle Group." They are discovering ways toget from here to there, looking for patterns, finding connections. And,finally, the "Afternoon Group" who are acquiring the skills andworking together to create and solve problems moving together cooperatively intheir mixed age group, could become "The Navigators." It all fittogether. They were descriptive, great words for the children to learn, andinspirational at that!

Finding the right names for our groups has been a long process, involvingdeep consideration of the nature of young children and the best words thatcould be found to describe them. As we begin a new academic year at MCNS, weare excited to find out where our Explorers, Pathfinders, Trailblazers andNavigators will take us all as they start out, discover, learn, and begin tofind their way through our world.









我们2岁的孩子正在发现一个新的世界,他们从来没有见过的事情,他们从来没有的经验。如果他们被称为探险家”会更好。学校里最大的孩子们正在成为年轻人而渴望准备走向外界。改名“老大班” 为“开拓者”如何?这些名字感觉很正确。他们描述了孩子的群体。而后霍华德,琳达和列日转向其余的班。探路者似乎是中级班的完美命名。他们正在发现从这里到那里的方法,寻找模式,寻找连接。最后,混合年龄班中的下午班可命名为导航员”, 他们要获得技能并共同启发和解决问题。这些都合适,是描述性的。大量的词汇促进孩子学习,令人鼓舞!


Words Fromthe parentof child

My son, Li Lushun, had stayed in MCNS for three years from 1997 to 1999. As oneof the parents of the children I have a deep feeling for my son’s growth anddevelopment in MCNS. Before he came here he had tried to several kindergartens,but he quickly gave up all of those, because he could cry all day in each one.However, as long as my son arrived in the class room in MCNS, the class teachercordially hugged my son, and quickly played with my son together. At that time,my son was over three three years old, but had grown up entirely in aChinese-speaking environment, nevertheless he quickly adapted the environmentin MCNS. Two months later, he could sing a new song or recite a new poem almostevery day. The school has a small library donated by parents, students borrowbooks at wills, very conveniently. Students and parents pick books, leave a notecard, without any restrictions. So since that my son has developed a very goodhabit of reading, and also self-confidence and independency

As the first generation of newimmigrant, I and my husband both completely finished college and the pre-college in China, so New Yorkmetropolitan especially didn’t know children's primary education is alsostrange to us when my son was ready for his primary school. Fortunately, the principalsof MCNS, Mr. Howard Johnson,spent time to introduce New York private and public education system andenrollment, such as the division of the school district, gifted and talentprogram, and the process of enrollment to the parents. He gives great advisingto the parents to help their children choosing school. MCNS teachers also writea detailed assessment report for each student. My son successfully enrolled theG & T program in a school crossing our zone when he was 5 years old.Through a period of study, the teacher in his primary school highly praised myson such good reading habits, artistic perception, good self-confidence andindependence.





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