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6-7s Building Study: Progressive Education

Inside Manhattan Country School: February 2019

Inside Manhattan Country School: February 2019

Inside Manhattan Country School: February 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Message from Manhattan Country School Director Michèle Solá

This is an exciting time at Manhattan Country School, as we are expanding to two classes per grade and enjoying a new facility renovated with learning, light and air in mind. I am thrilled you are considering MCS for your family. While the reasons families choose MCS are as individual as the families themselves, there are common themes in what they seek for their children.

An Engaging Progressive Education Program

Our way of thinking about children and learning draws upon a rich history of progressive educational philosophy. Children are excited to learn, think critically and articulate their opinions, and develop strong academic skills. In addition, they come to understand the values of a working democracy: interdependence, self-reliance, free inquiry and a respect for differences.

Core academic subjects like social studies, language arts, science, math, Spanish, music, art, woodshop and physical education, and a host of electives ranging from rhythm and poetry to robotics are all part of our program. Teachers frequently collaborate, and students do the same. Technology is integrated meaningfully. A few of the hallmarks of progressive education at MCS are the projects where students work together within grades and among older and younger classes. The use of New York City as a rich resource for learning is extensive. And nothing could be more distinguishing than the 17 weeks spent at the MCS Farm.

A Diverse Community

Research by The Century Foundation and other organizations shows that children in racially and economically mixed classes perform better academically and develop stronger critical thinking and problem-solving skills on average than children in homogeneous classrooms. What’s more, exposure to diversity increases cross-racial knowledge, understanding and empathy; better prepares students for employment in the global economy; and increases engagement in political issues and participation in the democratic process. And it’s not just the children who benefit from diversity at MCS. The whole family becomes part of the MCS community, a supportive network of parents and caregivers, faculty and staff, and alumni families who represent a diverse range of ideas and experiences.

A Commitment to Social Justice and Activism

Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideals of equality and nonviolence, MCS has held activism and social justice as core components of our curriculum since our founding. Parents appreciate that from pre-K to eighth grade their children learn to value human rights and understand multiple viewpoints. Their children also see first hand the difference they can make when they stand up for what they believe in.  

A Desire to Live More Sustainably

Families value the unparalleled experience provided by the time their children spend at the MCS Farm. The farm program teaches children how to run a working farm, live sustainably and be responsible for themselves and to their community in an atmosphere where they consistently engage in meaningful learning.

Like the families of the many children who have attended MCS since we opened our doors in 1966, I’m sure one or more of the above reasons resonate with your family. As you make your decision about whether MCS is right for your family, I invite you to read the articles written by MCS teachers and administrators to learn even more about what your child will gain by attending MCS.


Michèle Solá
Manhattan Country School

5-6s Fine Motor Workout
If there is one thing I wish I didn’t have to teach, it is handwriting.  While we can make handwriting instruction as multi-sensory and progressive as possible, and utilize the excellent program “Handwriting Without Tears,” handwriting success requires a lot of rote repetition, writing letters over and over to lock the formation into muscle memory. Read more
Norte and Sur Fall Farm Trips In several conversations over the years with our founders Gus and Marty Trowbridge, they described the intent of the MCS Farm as a “social experiment”: a place where children from diverse racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds work, play and learn together. The Farm, as Gus put it, is “the great leveler.” On the first seventh and eighth grade Farm trips of the year, seventh graders also experience the Farm for the first time in a mixed-grade setting.  Up until this point, they have only traveled to the Farm with their grade, but at the start of the year, the class was split into two homerooms, Norte and Sur, mixed with 8th graders. Read more
Lower School Tertulia
In the real world, learning is a naturally interdisciplinary process. In the Spanish program at Manhattan Country School, students engage in activities and communication that are relevant. In the Lower School, in order to plan for an upcoming celebration, students need math to understand how calendars work, music to sing, art to decorate, language arts and science to follow a recipe and games to play. In this child-centered context, with attention to emotions as well as intellect, our students are not preparing for a distant future. Age-appropriate curriculum, guided by students’ interests, encourages students to share and gain a deeper sense of self, their peers and the greater world, all while communicating in Spanish. Read more
5-6s Subitizing
An important feature of an early childhood math curriculum that parents may not know about is something called subitizing, which is a big word for a very simple phenomenon: the ability to recognize the number of objects simply by looking at their arrangement. If you have ever rolled a pair of dice and recognized 12 pips by seeing two sets of boxcars, then you know what it feels like to subitize. Read more
“The route is long and the weather is usually cold, but one never tires of seeing education be this intentional.” – Frank Roosevelt On the morning of Monday, January 21, more than 250 students, parents, alumni and friends from the Manhattan Country School community gathered to begin the 2019 Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative March titled "Changing the System: Marching Toward Justice". Read more

A Day in the Life at MCS

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5-6s Daily Schedule

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