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A message from Head of School David Egolf and Assistant Head of School Mansi Vasa.

Our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
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Outlining the admissions processes for each of our academic programs, from toddlers through fifth grade.
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Early Childhood Division
The Roots program for ages 16–24 months celebrates the way toddlers learn best: through the art of play and wonderment. 

The Seedlings nursery program fosters the natural wonder and curiosity of 2- and 3-year-olds.

Empowering children to become even greater participants in their learning and school community.
Elementary Division
As Corlears students enter the all-important elementary years, it’s all about making connections and building independence.

Building the foundation kids need to fall in love with learning and gain confidence for everything to come.

Comprehensive, individualized support for all Corlears graduates.
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All about the before- and after-school care available to families enrolled at Corlears.

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The Tuition Equity Fund (TEF) will serve as the foundation for Corlears School’s first-ever endowment. Corlears has committed significant resources to become the leading school for young children driven by diversity and equity. 

Through the Tuition Equity Fund, we strive to cultivate inclusion and belonging for all community members for generations to come. Your support of the TEF brings to life our vision of a vibrant and connected community like no other in New York City.

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Toddler Program
16–24 Months

The Roots program at Corlears School celebrates the way toddlers learn best: through the art of play and wonderment.
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Program Overview

The Roots toddler program focuses on the growth of toddlers who are building confidence within new environments. By relying on grown-ups beyond their own family members to meet their needs, toddlers form trusting relationships with their teachers and develop the courage to take play-based leaps beyond their comfort zone. In tandem, toddlers will build security to play with others and develop a sense of belonging to a community. This gentle approach paves the way for healthy separation from the child’s primary caregiver and influences their capacity to build friendships with peers.

The main goals of our Roots class are for your child to feel a sense of comfort, belonging, and independence in their first school environment. The curriculum is rooted in the experience of separating from a loved one and attaching to the classroom teacher. Class begins at 90 minutes, with caregivers working alongside their child and the classroom teacher.

 Gradually, caregivers phase out of the classroom space entirely, and students are to confidently stay for the duration of a lengthened drop-off class.

Our class, also called “Gentle Separation,” ensures toddlers ages 16–24 months get a strong start in key developmental areas by:

  1. Promoting learning through the art of play, in spaces designed intentionally for them 
  2. Creating experiences for children to exercise their natural sense of wonderment within safe, nurturing environments
  3. Focusing on the power of relationships with peers and benefits of socialization outside of the home
Roots students playing with play dough

Why Choose Seedlings at Corlears?

Connect with the Admissions Team

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Book a Tour
Experience our warm community and child-friendly spaces by booking a tour with a member of the admissions team. (Grown-ups only!)
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Schedule a Call
Schedule a 30-minute phone call with Corlears School's Admissions Director to learn everything you need to know about the Roots program.
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Email the Team
Not quite ready for face time? A member of our admissions team would be happy to answer any questions over email. 

Why Choose Corlears?

Our deliberate and constructed curriculum is developmentally driven and designed to foster independence, responsibility, and self-advocacy. Parents and caregivers are supported by our child development-focused educators, compassionately guiding toddlers as they form healthy new attachments.

Toddlers in our Roots classes learn skills related to language, math, science, art, and daily living, while also enhancing fine, gross motor, and sensory development. Every child in our Roots program will have the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning activities, including:

  • Physical: Climbing play structures in the yard, running outdoors, jumping, hopping, riding a bike, throwing a ball, dancing, playing in the gym.
  • Language, literacy and linguistics: Singing songs, storytelling, rhyming, being read to, writing, drawing.
  • Mathematical and scientific thinking: Playing with manipulatives like puzzles, building blocks, play kitchen, counting objects, measuring and comparing sizes, shapes, height and length.
  • Social-dramatic play: Responding to and interacting with peers, teachers, and caregivers as they reenact lived experiences and engage in imaginative, dramatic play areas.
  • Sensory: Playing with textured objects like sand, water, paint, clay, fabric, and soft climbing structures.

Corlears School's Early Childhood Philosophy

"Early childhood education is of utmost importance to the foundational construct of growth, learning and achievement for the youngest of learners. Educational opportunities for the burgeoning child represent a critical cornerstone at which every encounter, engagement, and experience holds meaning and significance. Our youngest of children enter the world motivated by interest, emotion, and curiosity. Children are eager to engage — with others and the environment — to contemplate and consider, as well as create and experiment. It is these same characteristics that manifest for the ever-inquisitive child as an abundance of knowledge, skill sets, attitudes, and responsiveness as they develop and prosper. This is the result of cultivating intentional, motivational, and meaningful learning activities where children can thrive, learn, and grow, which paves the pathway to lifelong achievement and educational success."
Colleen Goddard Corlears School
Colleen Goddard, Ph.D.Early Childhood Division Director

Go Inside the Roots Classroom

Through play and exploration, Roots students take on new environments and experiences with increased comfort and courage while building skills in key developmental areas. Below you'll find examples of some of these moments of learning in action.
COGNITIVE LEARNING Cognitive learning for Roots students is much less tangible and concrete than with older children. In this example at the light table, you can see the children taking risks, trying new ideas, learning through trial and error, and exploring novice materials. When students return to the materials, their prior knowledge and burgeoning understanding of cause and effect supports them in creating new understandings of the world. The children are discovering how the pieces balance, relate to one another, and how they can build upon each other. The magnetic tiles offer a variety of designs and dimensions, which introduces and reinforces shape and color awareness. The transparent nature of the tile invites the children to look through the shapes and experience the room through the specific lens of color, inviting a world of creativity. These are early scientific and mathematical learnings for children as they explore, discover, relate, and remember. 

A few other skills the children are developing with this experience include gross motor strength (pulling apart the tiles — some are very strong!) and fine motor skills as they manipulate, maneuver, construct, and even deconstruct. Teachers identify and name the colors, shapes, and structures, which encourages language and early literacy development.
Roots students playing with magnatiles
GROSS MOTOR LEARNING In the Roots classroom, children learn about their bodies in space (also known as spatial awareness), have opportunities to develop their large body muscles and gain confidence and autonomy over their physicality as they navigate through the classroom and are exposed to larger play structures that invite them to crawl, climb, slide, stand, and sit. In the example here with the rocker board, the student is learning how to set “appropriate boundaries for their [body] …. to do things on their own, freely explore autonomous movement and feel respect in their need for independence" (Benson McMullen, M. & Brody, D. [2021]. Infants and Toddlers at Play).

As students navigate the rocker board, foam climber, and other structures, they are learning to balance and shift their weight, which requires motor planning, a mind-body connection, and the strength and confidence to use the climber. Repeated exposure to the same experience promotes an increase of stability and fluidity of their movement over time. Children are “drawn toward opportunities that call for problem solving with different areas of their bodies. Children modify their body positions, relocate their centers of gravity and create a sturdy support system with legs and planted feet” (Benson McMullen, M. & Brody, D. [2021]. Infants and Toddlers at Play).
Roots student on rocker board
EXPRESSIVE ARTS LEARNING Because Roots students are at the early stages of their language development, the way they use and interpret the open-ended play materials available in the classroom is the way they communicate about themselves and the world around them. In this example, you can see the children using their hands and tools to learn about play dough. They may be asking themselves as they explore, What does it feel like on my hand and fingers? What does this do? How can I flatten this? How flat can I make it? How can I make this round? Will the ball bounce? How many pieces can I rip from this large piece of dough? As teachers observe these interactions with the play dough, they support the learning by providing students with the words to connect and label their actions. 

By practicing their hand-eye coordination and using their muscles to manipulate the dough with their hands, the children are also practicing their fine motor skills. Social and emotional skills development may also come into play if, for example, a student wants a tool that someone else has, and they must practice turn-taking. Cognitive development is also promoted as the children are playing and pretending to make various objects.
Roots student using a tool to manipulate play dough with his hands
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY LEARNING Much of language and literacy for this age group happens by listening and observing, and through repeated exposure to text, song, and patterns. Here, Corlears School's librarian is pictured performing a spirited read-aloud on the floor, at the children's level. In the Roots classroom, teachers spend a lot of time on the floor! Language development is supported when toddlers are able to see their teachers' faces and mouths move, and how to create the shapes that produce the specific sounds needed for speech; being on their level also helps the children feel valued, acknowledged, and seen.

Moments of language and literacy learning happen all day throughout the Roots classroom, including during snack time, when they have another opportunity to hear a book read aloud. One of the most important ways that educators can support children’s language development is to read to them; the book read during snack time is usually made available for the children to browse on their own after snack time. Hearing teachers read eventually leads to the child's significant and profound understanding that text, symbols, and sounds have meaning. Teachers also encourage the children to notice one another at the snack table and engage them in conversation in this way. Children are asked to communicate verbally when they want more snacks or need help with their water bottle or chair, which sets the expectation that when they use their words, their trusted grown-ups can understand and respond to their needs.
Trevor the librarian reading to Roots students
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING In the Roots classroom, social and emotional development (SEL) is the cornerstone of our curriculum. The children are building skills of autonomy, self-advocacy, and awareness of self and others that encourage the transfer of trust from their primary caregivers onto the overall classroom community. 

An example of social and emotional learning happens in the dramatic play area, where the children engage in play schemas and playworlds that mirror their lived experiences through play. They cook in the play kitchen, sit at the table for a meal, pretend to eat, care for babies, sweep the floor, open and close doors, and use objects to represent their lifeworld and familial cultures which they bring into the classroom as they create meaningful home-school connections.
Roots students in the play kitchen area

2024—25 Roots Tuition

2-Day Gentle Separation (T/Th)


Tuition is payable in installments upon request.

3-Day Gentle Separation (M/W/F)


Tuition is payable in installments upon request.

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From the Blog

Parents have questions, Corlears has answers! Discover articles, videos, and other resources about early childhood and early years education, plus news and updates from inside Corlears and our wider community.
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Interested in enrolling your child at Corlears School? Subscribe to our mailing list to learn more about your program of interest and to receive updates about admissions, campus visits, and other announcements. Or, you can connect directly with the team at admissions@corlearsschool.org.