A child plays dress up at a one of the Upper West Side preschools.

Nurturing Joyful Learners

We believe that children learn best through a play-based approach as it helps children develop holistically. Guided by experienced preschool faculty members, our youngest students are gently introduced to the routines of school. Children learn to separate from their parents, which we often describe as the bravest thing a human being ever does. As part of their classroom community, our two year olds enjoy thoughtfully designed learning experiences, as well as inspiring materials that encourage them to use their imaginations, socialize with their classmates, and express themselves through language.

Enrichment, Exposure, Exploration

Our Beginners curriculum includes not only play-based learning within the 2’s classroom, but taps into the wealth of educational resources our school provides to our older students. Music, Art, World Language (French, Chinese, Spanish), Greenhouse, and Movement offer important opportunities for our youngest learners to explore the world around them and uncover new interests and passions outside the preschool classroom in a variety of learning spaces.

Children explore the greenhouse at a private preschool in New York.
Beginners students explore hands-on learning at a private preschool in Manhattan.

A Lifelong Love of Learning

Beginners students become immersed into the culture of the broader school community from the moment they arrive. We take great pride in the fact that a large number of our graduating students come to us as two year olds. Nurturing students from toddlerhood through adolescence is nothing short of magical, and the Beginners program is where this joyous journey begins.

Beginners has been an incredible—and important—year for our children at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s. Each of our two children has thrived in the expansive and enriching range of arts, music, movement, and group activities that the Beginners classroom provides. Beginners gives its youngest students an exceptionally thoughtful, exciting, surprising, knowledgeable, and responsive environment to ensure each child explores new materials and expands their sense of self and sense of belonging. Through its world-class teachers and magical environment, the Beginners program at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s has given our children the most important gifts—a love of learning, appreciation of themselves, and expansive environment to explore, learn, and grow.

Cara and Joe, P ’31, P ’34

Program Details

5:1 student teacher ratio

Program Hours
Monday through Friday during school year
Rolling start from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. to ensure a seamless drop-off
Pickup at 12:45 p.m.

Food Service
Snack and lunch are provided daily
All food is prepared in-house by Cater to You.
We offer delicious, nutritious meals that children enjoy.
We are a nut-free school

View Sample Lunch Menu


Location & Contact Details
619 West 114th Street New York, NY 10025
Email admission@sthildas.org for more information

Weekly Schedule


2 year-old children play with toys at an early childhood program in NYC.


All three of our children have been in the Beginners program at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s and we could not be happier with our decision! Each of our children have very different personalities, yet each of them blossomed during Beginners and loved each day they were there.This is due to the school’s unique approach to seek out and value what makes each student special, to treat them with love and tenderness, and to help them develop confidence and independence. To say we are overjoyed with our decision would be an understatement, and we are just so thankful for what the Beginners program has done for our kiddos!

Hasina and Justin, P’30, P’32, P’34

Click to Tour Our Classroom Spaces

Wide Angle shot of verdant Greenhouse

Virtual Tour of St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's

A child paints on a cardboard box during a preschool activity for toddlers

The early childhood years are the most important years of the entire span of the educational experience, and the foundation we create for learning happens before the age of seven. What happens in an early childhood setting such as ours, is that children leave the coattails of their parents and walk over that threshold and become confident learners.

Virginia Connor, Head of School

St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's was my home for most of my childhood in New York City. My deepest and truest memories of safety, love, and learning came from the warmth and encouragement I received as a child. My belief that I could be just who I was was strengthened and nurtured by faculty and chaplains who believed in me, and believed in community. As a young parent in New York City, I now know just how important that sense of warmth and family is. It's not just a sense--it's real. Coming back to see my former teachers fall in love with and care for my daughter has been one of the most rewarding moments of my life. Seeing my daughter run to greet Ms. Connor in the mornings just as I did continues to fill me with joy and awe. I am beyond grateful for this community being my anchor at every stage of my life.Lucy, ’03, P’34

St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's 

Where every child is sacred

A collage of happy toddlers attending an UWS preschool


Children in butterfly costumes. Click to visit us