Popular Upper East Side Preschools and How to Choose the Best One for Your Kid

Preschoolers at All Souls get plenty of play time to romp on the rooftop playground. Photo courtesy of the school
Preschoolers at All Souls get plenty of play time to romp on the rooftop playground. Photo courtesy of the school

The great preschool hunt might seem especially daunting these days, but schools are stepping up to help parents through the process, offering everything from videotaped interviews to virtual tours. And while preschool spots are always in high demand on the Upper East Side, this might actually be the perfect time to score a spot at some of the most sought-after early childhood schools. Remember that some preschools still require you to apply in September the year before your child enrolls, after which you'll be invited to visit and confirm your interest in the school (some have early admissions and wait lists!), with final acceptance letters going out in February or March. In short, there's no time like the present to get the process started.

We've rounded up some of the top preschools on the Upper East Side below and broken them down into categories to help you decide which may be best for your family. Your odds of finding a comfortable fit for your family are excellent. We've also compiled our best preschool admissions tips as well as 10 questions to ask during a preschool tour, and don't forget that our Preschools Directory is an excellent resource.

A quick overview of the preschool categories below:

  • A traditional preschool follows the NYC public school calendar and runs from September to June, with a curriculum that reflects that school's unique educational mission;
  • A year-round school is similar but is in session over the summer months as well;
  • Reggio Emilia and Montessori preschools are both focused on child-directed learning, but you may find you prefer teachers who consider themselves "guides" en route to making your child independent (the Montessori approach), or you may be drawn to Reggio's emphasis on communication and documentation;
  • If your family is interested in religious or dual-language preschool instruction, we've also listed a selection of those.
  • Remember that some schools fit multiple categories (traditional and religious, for example, like the 92nd Street Y Nursery School).

Places featured in this article:


William Woodward, Jr. Nursery School

Guidepost Montessori at Museum Mile

Guidepost Montessori at Columbus Square

Guidepost Montessori at Williamsburg

Guidepost Montessori at Brooklyn Heights

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Day School

Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School

My Playful Mind Preschool Alternative
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