Neighborhood Music School Preschool, New Haven
February 2014. There were a few schools in New Haven we were impressed with. We chose NMS because, of the schools that offer 3 days/week, NMS had the smallest class size and all of the students who are in 3 days/week are in a class together (rather than mixed in with kids who go 5 days/week). My daughter is pretty shy and does better in smaller groups, so small classes were more important to me that just teacher/student ratio. Also, I didn’t want her to be missing out on things the kids who go 5 days/week were doing.
The program fills up quickly. We called the September before we wanted her to start school and got the first tour available and filled out the application right then and there.
My daughter did the summer program at Bethesda before starting at NMS and enjoyed it, but I’ve really seen her BLOSSOM since starting at NMS. The teachers are nurturing and caring. They re-direct inappropriately behavior kindly. They transition between activities with songs, rather than by yelling over the noise of kids playing. They have really encouraged my daughter and helped her join in with the other kids.
While NMS does have a summer program, it’s not actually affiliated with the preschool there, so there’s not a continuity of teachers and routines there. If you have a child in the toddler program (2-year-olds), it gets out an hour earlier than the regular preschool, so it’s a bit inconvenient if you have both a toddler and a preschooler.
Overall, we really love it. We’ve moved to Guilford since my daughter started school, but we are planning on keeping her at NMS again next year because it’s been such a positive experience for her. Melissa B., parent
April 2013. Why you chose the school:We chose NMS because it’s a nurturing, creative, relatively unstructured environment where our daughter is encouraged to explore and experiment and create, every day.
Any special information about getting in: Be sure to sign up in January, since there’s always a wait list. And no mid-year joins/departures.
My child’s experience at the school is: This is our daughter’s third year at NMS, and she has loved all of them. She was pretty quiet and shy in the toddler program, and also in the first year of preschool, but she’s really blossoming now, taking more risks, becoming much more outgoing. The teachers have given her all the TLC she has wanted, and they’re very affectionate–lots of hugs and carrying kids around, even the preschoolers. We love that. And despite being less structured, they do have a regular daily schedule and many traditions, so it never feels out of control.
Pros: Individual attention and encouragement of children as unique individuals. They play outside every day, and they serve snack. Resources and materials are great, variety of activities is fantastic.
Cons: They don’t have much financial aid, and as others have mentioned, days off have been many. Wish they served lunch. 3:30 is the latest pickup. Chance family
April 2013. Why you chose the school: We wanted a child-centered program that did not rely on electronic technology and had a small student/teacher ratio. We also wanted something near our home in New Haven.
Any special information about getting in: They are fussy about their admission process so you want to pay attention to deadlines.
My child’s experience at the school is: Pros: She gets to experience art and music on a daily basis. Some of the teachers are wonderful – earthy, caring, compassionate. Some of the field trips are great fun. Cost is not bad for the number of hours provided, although the large number of holidays affects this.
Cons: for such an attractive ratio, it is not a good choice (sadly) for those children who are a little different, or developing at a different pace and need more support. We found that some of the teachers are simply wonderful while others seem like they might be in need of a break from this line of work. Not very understanding of working family’s schedules. Classroom and play spaces are a bit cramped. Anon. parent
November 2012. Why you chose the school: only enrichment program for 2 year olds we found. Stayed for all 3 years with 2 children.
What’s great about the school? Teachers, administrators, special instructors. Fun, sweet, caring, child-centered.
Any negatives? Too many holidays, days off. Limited hours for working families. A lot of kids think its not structured enough for 3 year olds. Staff could do a better job of reigning in disruptive kids.
September 2012. Why you chose the school: eclectic program, highly recommended
What’s great about the school? Dance classes with live musician playing, very nurturing teachers and environment, I love their value system.
Any negatives? No curriculum to teach children to read.
Deb S., parent
August 2011. My son began pre-school at Neighborhood Music School when he was 3 1/2 and will return this coming academic year. I had been interested in NMS the previous year, but the toddler program is offered only two days a week and I needed a more extensive program.
When my son and I visited NMS, he seemed right at home. At the time, we were also considering the pre-school program at a New Haven magnet school; the magnet school obviously would have saved us a good deal of money. But I realized that the magnet school’s program was far too structured and regimented for my son. I felt he needed a nurturing environment in which he could be himself and find stimulation, inspiration and guidance. As it turned out, that’s just what we found at NMS. The teachers are very engaged, perceptive, caring, and knowledgeable. In the very first week of school, one of the teachers said something to me about my son that conveyed a real understanding of him. The director and co-director are also caring and approachable; because they both substitute in the classrooms, they know each child personally. After an initial adjustment period, my son was very happy and comfortable at NMS, made many friends, and really thrived.
Music and arts are integrated into daily activities, with songs sung throughout the day. There was a piano in the room that the kids could play and lots of percussion instruments. One of his teachers also played guitar and did so regularly. Children also have a weekly dance class, which my son loved. A school in which music and dance classes are offered to the greater community is a wonderful environment for a pre-school — once a week after school my son would plop himself down outside a large room in which ECA dance students were rehearsing. He loved to watch them.
Cons: Because my son attends five days per week and most other children attend M/W/F or T/Th, he would sometimes repeat a field trip. (Field trips are scheduled twice so that both sets of children can go, but that means children who are there every day will repeat the trip.) There were also quite a few school holidays last year and those, together with the large number of snow days, meant taking a number of days off work.
Overall, it’s a wonderful place and we’re looking forward to another year at Neighborhood Music School.
Aviva L., parent
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