Picking the right preschool for one’s child is a challenge faced by many parents, such as Three Village parent Jodi Roth, who came to the 14th Annual Preschool Fair at the with her mother, Janice, and her daughter, Alexa, on Saturday.
“I’d like a school with free play and teacher-guided, structured activity,” Roth said. “One of the concerns when you have a child who is free-spirited is there won’t be enough structure, and Alexa needs that to be ready for kindergarten.”
Fortunately for Roth and other parents, this year’s Preschool Fair brought together a variety of different preschools catering to the many different needs of children. Here is a guide to the preschools and daycare centers in and around Three Village.
218 Christian Avenue, Stony Brook
North Shore Montessori School has been in business for over 40 years, but has been keeping with the times by adding special programs like computers, Spanish, and creative movement. As a Montessori school, North Shore supports the fundamental Montessori tenet that children learn best within a social environment that supports each child’s individual development. Programs are available for children as young as 21 months, and go through age 5 with preschool and kindergarten. For parents who need extra hours of care for their children while they are at work, North Shore Montessori keeps program hours between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
17 Three Sisters Road, Saint James
Harbor Country Day School offers preschool programs for two-, three-, and four-year-olds. Pre-kindergarten classes for four year olds and young fives have an average of 12 children per class, and are taught by an experienced, state-certified teacher. They follow a school structure, where children go to educational specials like music class, physical education, and foreign language. An afternoon enrichment program is also offered to expand upon a child’s learning opportunities.
380 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook
Imagination Preschool focuses on imagination and fun for children from ages two to four, and offers a myriad of special event days, including a Thanksgiving pow-wow, indoor winter picnic, Pajama Day, and Pirate Day. They have also taken on tried-and-tested children’s programs such as Musik Garten and My Gym Children’s Fitness Center. Enrichment courses are offered in the morning and afternoon. Imagination Pre-School also has a preschool summer program, as well as a day camp for five- to eight-year-old girls.
400 Sheep Pasture Road, Port Jefferson
Early Discoveries has a flexible pre-k program, with hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and morning and afternoon sessions every day. Children who enjoy animals would be sure to love this program, where children have a variety of class pets that they help to care for, including a tarantula, albino frogs, and newts. They also get the opportunity to plant seeds and tend to a class garden, as well as mingle with the nearby Elder Care group. Parents can inquire about the Children’s Community Head Start program, which provides services for children of low-income families.
5 Caroline Avenue, Setauket
This school is set apart from others with the close sense of family that is encouraged even before the three- and four-year-olds come to class. In August, teachers Janet Craig and Fran Costabile visit the homes of students who will be starting in the fall so as to get to know the child on his or her own grounds, and to introduce themselves by talking to them or reading the child a story. Parent participation is a fundamental part of every class, as every week a parent is invited to the classroom to help out. Socialization is a major part of the curriculum, so computers are not a part of this classroom. Instead, students go on multiple field trips, including trips to the library, arboretum, and Port Jefferson.
322 Route 25 A, East Setauket
Faith Nursery School is a Bible-oriented preschool for three- and four-year-olds which keeps a teacher-student ratio of 1:6. Here, the musically oriented director and lead teacher, Miss Christine, incorporates music into the daily routine, as well as lessons about famous artists. Preschoolers learn to splatter paint like Jackson Pollack and dance like Degas’ ballerinas. Faith Nursery School also offers morning enrichment classes.
52 Old Post Road, East Setauket
Play Groups has been around for over 65 years, and has stayed true to its focus: children learn best through play. Play Groups has programs for children ages 18 months through five years. Its preschool program for four- and five-year-olds incorporates a great deal of outdoor play on the jungle gym, in the garden, or on the outdoor stage. Children also go on field trips to nature centers, local farms, museums, and other local destinations. Play Groups is an accredited institution by the NAEYC.
14 Research Way, East Setauket
Alternatives for Children provides free evaluations for children ages three to five who may be showing delay in speech, language, physical, social, or behavioral development. Subsequently, any related services that may be needed are also given on-site, including therapeutic services like psychological counseling, health services, music therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech/language therapy. All teachers here are certified in special education, though typical nursery school and preschool classes are offered. Alternatives is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
1401 Stony Brook Road, Stony Brook
Briarwood Montessori has multi-aged preschool classes which are open for children from age two years, nine months to age four. Briarwood’s mascot, an alien-like creature named Brinkley, supports school activities such as “No Screens Wednesdays,” an incentive program for students to go all day Wednesday without turning on a screen, such as the television or their videogames. Classes are kept small, as each has 15 students which are then split into two groups, with two to three teachers in a classroom at a time. Pre-K enrichment is offered for both morning and afternoon sessions.
Stony Brook University, Social and Behavioral Sciences Building
University Preschool is located on the Stony Brook campus and offers programs for children ages 20 months to five years old. The adult-child ratio (adults including teachers, aides, and college student volunteers) is always 1:4 or larger, and sessions are only given in the morning from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Teachers here encourage self-selected play and cooperation, as well as independent creative activities like journaling. Every teacher is NYS certified, and come with a great deal of teaching experience.
545 Old Town Road, Port Jefferson Station
Teachers at Christ Church Nursery School believe children learn through play and need a variety of hands-on experiences and positive discipline. Pre-K classes are just a half day, from 9:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and each class has a maximum of 12 students. Children are given many opportunities for fine and gross motor development, and enjoy art and music activities. As a Christian school, Christian fundamentals are included, and the director conducts Bible Circle once a week, where the children are read a Bible story on their age level.
6 South Jersey Avenue, East Setauket
Tutor Time brings parents a very flexible schedule for child care and learning. Children can come in anywhere from two to five days a week, and the center is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Three- to four-year-olds can take advantage of Tutor Time’s Life Smarts curriculum, which incorporates a twist on Gardiner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences to teach children that there is more than one way to be smart, such as by being Music Smart, Me Smart, Nature Smart, and Math Smart.