Our five-day schedule begins in the nursery program with families selecting either a half-day (8:25 a.m. -12:30 p.m.) or full-day (8:25 a.m.-2:50 p.m.) schedule, with the option of after school or enrichment courses. 

The nursery teachers carefully plan a curriculum that focuses on play while encouraging students to find their voices within the classroom and to listen to and respect the voices of one another. Thematic units begin with the students exploring their own identities, preferences, and interests. They then study themselves as part of the classroom group, the school, and their families. We teach that the definition of a family reflects a broad understanding that no two families are the same and that families include a wide variety of iterations. Nursery students are introduced to community service as part of their curriculum, and they celebrate special events. In nursery, we introduce classroom jobs as a way to care for one another. Through discussion and experience, we help students consider how to show compassion for others in the St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s community and in our neighborhood community of Morningside Heights. 

Nursery is also the start of many special subject classes. During this year, students will begin their study of secondary language (French, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese), art, music (using the Kodály style of teaching), greenhouse, movement, and library. Students also participate in daily recess on our playdeck.

Curriculum is everything that happens in the room from clean-up to the more obvious, such as the themes we present throughout the year. All of which are important building blocks for their future learning.”Marisa Staples, Nursery Head Teacher, Faculty Since 2000

Two nursery school students learning from a learning wall


  • Students must be at least age 3 by September 1

  • Five days a week, either half-day (8:25 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) or full-day (8:25 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.), with option for after school or enrichment courses

  • Introduction of specials: secondary language (French, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese), art, music (using the Kodály method), greenhouse, movement, and library

  • Planned time each day for exploration of classroom materials to foster play skills and communication

  • Early number and literacy concepts introduced

  • Classroom jobs to establish routines, help build independence, and instill a stronger sense of responsibility in a group setting

  • Listening, communicating, and turn-taking promoted during morning meeting and throughout the day

  • Daily recess on our outdoor playdeck, with three distinct play areas

  • Thematic units include seasonal studies, holidays and traditions, family, and community

A teacher reading a book with a student in an independent nursery school near midtown classroom


Nursery is a fun and energetic year. The students take everything you teach them and make it their own. I can learn just as much from them as they can learn from me.” Ambar Peña, Nursery Head Teacher, Faculty Since 2010 

Three independent nursery school students playing a game