TNCS’s Preschool Programs

Preschool programs at The New Century School are designed to ignite your child’s innate curiosity and start them on the path to lifelong learning. We do this by focusing on children’s social and emotional development, which helps them become not only successful students but also compassionate, discerning individuals.

Preschool children are divided into two distinct groups:

  • Preprimary Language Immersion Classrooms: For children ages 2–3, TNCS offers complete language immersion in either Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. Lead and assistant classroom teachers are speakers of the language*.
  • Primary Montessori Classrooms: Children ages 3–5 years may join our mixed-age classrooms, which are led by English-speaking Montessori-trained teachers. Students are also partially immersion in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish languages.

*Our Mandarin and Spanish-speaking teachers and assistants are either native speakers or are considered distinguished level speakers according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language Proficiency Guidelines 2012.

Preschool Student Girls

Learn more about our Preschool Programs at an Admissions Friday event.

Multilingual Learning

Multilingual hands-on learning sets TNCS apart from other preschool programs. In the total language immersion classroom at the preprimary level, students are placed for the entire academic year in either full Spanish or full Mandarin Chinese immersion classrooms. Both lead and assistant teachers speak in either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese. Students demonstrate their comprehension by responding appropriately to instructions and participating in group activities. In the partial language-immersion primary Montessori class, students develop proficiency in English as well as both other languages.

In both preschool divisions, language learning is active and interactive. Teachers provide plenty of meaningful cultural exposure, such as cooking, singing, dancing, and playing games to heighten students’ cultural awareness.

The Case for Early Language Learning

“We all start out as natural linguists.” Babies have a unique capacity to hear all of the hundreds of consonants and vowels of the world’s languages. As they begin to hear only a certain set, they tune the others out. Evidence shows that exposure to more than one set from more than one language keeps the brain receptive and responsive in unique ways. TNCS’s language program makes the most out of this sensitive period.

Before the age of about 7, children acquire language—any language—implicitly, rather than by explicitly studying it. By listening to native speakers and imitating them, children develop proficiency in the language, refining as they go. At TNCS, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and English teachers talk to students in all three languages, so students absorb those languages organically.

  • Language acquisition happens during a critical sensitive period in brain development.
  • Language acquisition remodels the brain in ways that ultimately improve processing speed and cognitive function.
  • Mastering language requires social interaction in authentic contexts.

Preprimary Language Immersion Program
Ages 2–3

Primary Montessori Program
Ages 3–5

Our preprimary program is geared to our littlest learners, ages 2 and 3 years. Our specially designed classrooms offer an environment that includes a balance of structure, play, and social development. Students learn how to be part of a community through engaging in daily routines. They develop healthy self-esteem and take their first steps toward independence. Half-day options are available as well as diapering services.

Complete Language Immersion

Lead and assistant teachers speak exclusively in either Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. In the immersion classroom, toddlers absorb language and learn how to respond to and interact with teachers and other classmates. The focus is on expanding their absorptive capacities rather than on vocabulary. This critical preparation gives them the agency they need to progress academically, socially, and emotionally.

Certified, Caring Teachers

Experienced teachers guide toddlers to begin exploring, interacting, and learning. Lead and assistant teachers in both immersion classrooms speak exclusively in the target language. They are passionate about sharing their language and cultural expertise.

Fostering Independence

One of the most important aspects of the preprimary classroom is learning the daily routines. With structure, toddlers feel secure, which gives them the confidence to begin exploring their rich learning environment and discover their individual affinities. In addition, students are given daily opportunities to use their imaginations to create. Such creative endeavors not only give them a sense of pride in their work, but also serve to strengthen their fine and gross motor skills.

Milestone Support

Classroom teachers support your child’s milestones, such as toileting readiness, throughout the school yearPartnership with families, including daily and weekly communication from teachers, helps guide student progress. This safe, secure space for them to grow in elicits the desire for more independence and exploration.

In our primary program, your child will join other 3- to 5-year-olds in a child-centered, mixed-age Montessori preschool classroom. Mixed ages provides each student the chance to be mentored by an older student as well as to later mentor younger classmates. These special relationships have profound social and emotional learning benefits. During their 3-year Montessori cycle, students engage purposefully with specialized Montessori materials in sensorial, practical life, and academic activities.

Inquiry-Driven Learning in a Montessori Classroom

The Montessori environment supports the child’s intrinsic motivation. Students learn most optimally when they are exploring what naturally fascinates them, and the Montessori materials and classroom areas offer plenty to capture their imaginations.The process of inquiring begins with gathering information and data through applying the human senses—seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. Primary classes are led by Montessori guides who introduce students to the Montessori materials and curriculum, which they later engage with independently. In this way, they cultivate concentration and focus—the capacity to start a task and see it through to completion.

Partial Language Immersion

The importance of multilingualism is TNCS’s defining principle, and the primary program does not stray from this philosophy. Language enrichment in both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish complements the Montessori curriculum in the primary classroom. A speaker of one or the other acts as assistant teacher, while a speaker of the alternate language circulates into the classroom three times a week for instruction in that language. These teachers communicate only in—as well as provide instruction in other disciplines in—the target language.

Individualized Instruction

Individualized instruction by adaptive, responsive educators in small classes allows students to develop at their own pace. This one-to-one instruction increases their investment in their own learning and, in turn, the extent of their academic mastery. The Montessori method is informed by this differentiated approach, and TNCS carries it through the Middle School program because of its many demonstrated advantages.

Preparing for Elementary School

Just as the preprimary student was ready to join the primary classroom after exhibiting signs of “conscious functioning,” the primary student is preparing for a transition to the elementary classroom. The Montessori method creates authentic opportunities for students to engage in longer practical life and academic exercises, encourages their growing independence, and emphasizes the need to demonstrate grace and courtesy to classmates and teachers. All of these skills ready students for the increasing academic rigor they will face in elementary. Their social and emotional adeptness will also help them navigate their growing world. 

In preschool at TNCS, the child is the curriculum.

–Alicia Danyali, Head of Lower School and Dean of Students

Playground and Gym

Preschool students enjoy daily time on the TNCS playground as well as gym time several times per week. Specialized equipment sparks their imaginations while giving them plenty of the physical play they need.

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Healthy Snacks and Onsite Lunch

Preschool students receive two nutritious snacks per day, and our optional vegetarian lunch program is available as an add-on. TNCS is a nut-free and sugar-free school to keep all of our students healthy.

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Care Beyond the School Day

Optional care before and after the regular school day is available to all preschool students. And, when school is out, TNCS offers engaging summer camps as well as holiday camps for breaks during the academic year. Extended care is overseen by educators who are passionate about the health and happiness of young children.

Partnership with Families

Partnership with families, including daily and weekly communication of student progress, is essential to student success. Twice yearly conferences and parent workshops provide regular opportunities for families to learn about the preschool curricula. Volunteering and social events are also part of the preschool experience and are great ways to get to know fellow TNCS families and the broader school community.