It's not hard to find out which are the most prestigious preschools in NYC. Just search for "TT preschool"(top tier preschool) on the urbanbaby schools board and you'll hear more than you ever wanted to know on the subject - and we mean that literally.
The Downtown Little School is old school. By that I mean it reminds me of what nursery or preschools were like before they became the first step to getting your child into Harvard. The program focuses on the social development. The school claims not to focus on academics, but, perhaps unavoidably, many activities teach counting and pre-reading skills). Children in the 2s start out with separation, potty training, etc and later, "Me." The 3s study "My Family," the 4s "Growing Up." Basically they play with blocks, paint, do clay, and dress-up while learning about how to be part of a community. You know, old-school preschool stuff.
The urban blogging parents at Sweet Juniper have upped the ante on urban alphabet books. (via apartmenttherapy) Avoiding the trite apples and boa constrictors, they didn't just set the alphabet in the city, but used urban graffiti of hipster parent appropriate images. Look for H is for Homeless, I is for Icarus, and J is for Jew.They just did this for themselves, but due to popular demand, have made copies available for purchase via lulu, the self-publishing site.
Inspired, Mommy Poppins sought out the other great Urban Alphabet Books:
Washington Market School is the most polarizing preschool downtown. Some love it. Some hate it. And some probably love it and hate it at the same time. It's the only preschool in Lower Manhattan with a buzz. Search on urbanbaby and you will find parents posting controversy, sniping, praise, questions and confusion. One of the things that sets this school apart is its place in the "preschool as stepping stone for getting your kid into private elementary school" sport. It's not really clear that the school will make your chances of getting into a private school better, but it's the only one in Lower Manhattan that plays the game.
A collection of links on a random topic.
Wondertime (via nursery.apartmenttherapy) article featuring three different ways to build forts.
For the ambitious, check out MrMcGroovys awesome fort plans including instruction for cardboard castles and, perfect for city kids, skyscraper forts.
Playhut pop-up forts are perfect for apartment dwellers. One minute you have a suburban-style playroom, then fold it up, tuck it in the closet and nobody even knows you have kids.
For one dad's take on the fun of forts check out Ryan's Rage blog post, "Busy Hellions".
For more fort-building ideas pick up a copy of The Kid's Guide to Building Forts from Amazon.
Find more great activities like this in our Indoor Activities Guide.
Thank you, Greg Allen of DaddyTypes, for bringing our attention to Steve Johnson's response to David Brooks' Hipster Parent rant. Johnson does a nice job of dissecting the multiple layers of BS in the editorial, but what I am really happy about was his main point - that the big deal with the hipster parent movement is the choice to raise kids in the city.
I'm so glad that he said that because I do believe that is a big deal and he's really hit on the crux of the matter. As Johnson says, let's "see the forest for the t-shirts." This obviously isn't an issue of whether you put your kid in a Power Ranger or a Pogues shirt as it's been (constantly) purported to be by the press. However, families moving back in to the cities is a huge cultural phenomenon and will have strong ramifications on our country for years to come.
I followed a link in Johnson's post to another article he wrote for Babble about how raising kids in the city creates beautiful communities. This is a wonderful article, well written and feels so true to me. It brought back a lot of feelings that have faded from my consciousness, but really shaped how I feel about living in the city with kids and the choices we have made since.
I've been trying to stay out of the whole hipster parent smorgasblog, hoping it will just go away, but since David Brooks brought it up in his NYTimes editorial today - and my kids are asleep - I guess I'm going to enter the fray.
Needless to say there has been a lot written on this subject already, some of it smart, some of it entertaining, none of it really getting to the heart of the matter. From Neal Pollack's Alternadad, articles in TIME and New York Magazine to today's New York Times editorial, all of it seems to focus on whether it is OK to raise your kids like little mini-me hipsters or not.
So far I haven't heard anyone say anything about what is the true issue at hand - Hey, alterna-parents, you're not cool. And, yes, since I'm a native New Yorker I do feel qualified to judge you on this - that's why you're raising your kids here too.