Melissa’s Play School is an exceptionally warm, nurturing program that’s the perfect stepping stone from home to pre-K. Both of my children loved their time at Melissa’s and I saw them grow in wonderful ways. From my very shy daughter who learned to come out of her shell, to my out-going son who loves to be silly and learned that he can have fun while following along. Melissa and her staff gently nurture each child, guiding them through the very first steps toward school. And they’re not the only ones who learned something from Melissa. She is an experienced, thoughtful person who offers sage parenting advice when asked. She once said to me, “Our job is to help our children become who they are.” And that’s exactly what she and her staff work toward everyday.
Melissa’s Playschool allows children to learn through play. The atmosphere promotes self-confidence, cooperation, language development & communication. Both of our sons have attended Melissa’s and I feel that the nurturing environment and well-rounded activities are unrivaled in Park Slope. Melissa understands 2-5 year olds and lets them be who they are, while helping them learn the necessary tools to form relationships and become caring & resourceful individuals. I have no worries when I leave my children in her care and neither do the children.
Melissa’s Playschool was the perfect first school for my son. The warm teachers and homey environment eased that first transition from home to school. The mixed-age setting meant that my son had the benefit of learning from the older kids his first year, and then growing into a confident leader his second year. I always felt that the teachers really knew who my son was- not just his interests, but also his strengths and his weaknesses. They seemed to understand the best way to challenge him when he was ready to take a leap, and to give him time to develop when he wasn’t. I also loved that the day was spent mostly in play- my son learned important social skills while his imagination exploded. I know that his years there were essential to him becoming the happy, well-adjusted, creative young man that he is today. Melissa’s truly is a special place.
Melissa’s Playschool was my daughter’s first school experience and she has loved it since day one. Warm and inviting, fun and interesting, the program encourages children to explore the world around them and build on their interests while developing friendships in a shared space. Melissa and her both her co-teachers are attuned to the needs of each child- there is no one answer for everyone. They work hard to respect and honor the needs of the individual and the growth is palpable. Children that have a hard time separating from parents are lovingly and consistently supported while they learn how to trust and separate. A day’s activities can be changed on a moment’s notice as a child shows up with a toy or idea that catches the interest of the group. When you walk in, you see happy children who have real ownership over their school and are building lasting friendships. This is a reflection of the respect and awareness that Melissa and her teachers have for children. I am so very happy that Selah had this as her first group experience. She goes off the Kindergarten happy, confident and ready.
Our son, Carter came in at 2-1/2 years of age, and it was a big transition for him. I recall him being very inhibited in the beginning, and not even wanting to take his coat off when he arrived at school, but no one ever rushed him. When it came to potty training, Melissa reminded us “not to push him”, and that it would all develop “when he was ready” (and it did). Over time, Carter learned to love art, music with Dan, yoga with Jenny, having the freedom and the time to develop elaborate stories with his friends, as well as building, and eating lunch together. Because it’s a small group, the school has a very cozy feel to it, all the while having a typical kid-school schedule. We can’t say enough about how happy we are with where Carter is, most importantly, his social-emotional state, which is often overlooked when it comes to caring for children.
-Beth R. Shapiro
Melissa’s Playschool is just the most wonderful place. Everything they do is carefully considered. For example, they provide snack and lunch not just as a convenience to busy parents (which it certainly is!) but because having the children eat and sometimes help prepare the same meal together builds community.
Melissa and her co-teacher really take the time to know and understand each child and his or her personality, quirks, and needs. They were enormously creative about finding ways to encourage my extremely reserved son to open up and enjoy school and friends.
Silas attended for two years, at age 3 and 4. I was concerned at first about that second year—he was going to be the oldest child in the group, and I frankly wondered if he’d be bored. But Melissa explained how her curriculum is designed to work well in a mixed age group: a child will approach the same project very differently at age 4 than at age 3, “extending” the activity to make it more complex. She was completely right. He was never bored, and he loved having the chance to be the big kid, showing the younger ones the ropes.
Silas is now a confident and exuberant kindergartener, which I think has a lot to do with his wonderfully nurturing and affirming preschool experience at Melissa’s.
-Tracy Tullis, mother to Silas
We had Patrick at Melissa’s playschool for two years, when he was 2 and 3 years old, and we were thrilled with the experience. The vibe is very relaxed and gentle, and the children formed lovely friendships. The art projects were all very tactile and just what a toddler can dig into (I remember these bins of various shapes of beans, you just wanted to put your hands in!). The outside space is a nice benefit, for some sunshine and air. Melissa is a warm and very wise soul, and I trust her completely, and you can tell from the very first day, the kids do, too. Couldn’t be a better place for a wee one to start off their social and scholastic life!