preschool girl smiling

Preschool 3s


"Our son's teachers have been such an important part of his life. For some three- and four-year-old kids and their parents (especially in NYC), school can be stressful, but in our case, it was an absolute pleasure. Our son loved his experience and could often be found running to school in the morning. He respected and learned from his teachers, and the environment that they fostered was undoubtedly special. We appreciate the time, energy, and care they put into their work!"
- Amy and Brett, Parents of Ben, 3s Program


In our warm and nurturing 3s Program classrooms, teachers encourage children to explore the world around them while gaining confidence in a school setting. Students are increasingly social, and teachers provide many opportunities for sharing and cooperation. Language and vocabulary are developing quickly, and children are encouraged to express themselves in a variety of ways. Learn about our Preschool 3s application process and apply today.


Age: Children who turn three years old prior to September 1 of the academic year
Class size: Each class has a maximum of 15 students with two to three teachers
Curriculum: First year of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program
Language: Spanish, additional languages available for a fee in after-school programs

Select from Several Program Options:

  • Monday through Friday mornings, 8:30 am–12 pm
  • Monday through Friday full days, 8:30 am–2:30 pm

Early-drop off, extended day, and extensive after-school activities are available

Transitioning to School

Before school begins, we offer classroom visits for all students entering our 3s Program. This allows children to meet their new teachers in the classroom environment. The school year begins with a gradual separation and a “phase-in schedule,” working up to a full session by the second week of school.

A Day in the Life & Sample Schedule

Daily activities for 3s classes include choice time/free play, small group work, circle time, outdoor play, snack/story time, and, for full-day classes, lunch, and rest. The 3s also enjoy weekly visits from their music and Spanish specialists, as well as scheduled gym, library, and studio (arts and science) time.

Here is a sample schedule for our full-day program:

Peek Inside the Classroom

You might find the 3s student:

  • Visiting the NYC Transit Museum as the culmination of our study of travel and transportation
  • Exploring red envelopes filled with coins as they listen to a parent in traditional dress talk about the traditions of Chinese New Year
  • Counting and rehearsing favorite songs about weather and colors ―

    in Spanish!
  • Working in small groups to practice letter recognition in Alphabet Bingo and tracing the letters in trays of sand or glitter
  • Designing "blueprints" and building their own inventions after reading and discussing Rosie Revere, Engineer
  • Learning African dance with a special guest to accompany a favorite African folk song from Music class
  • Using cooperation and collaboration to create "partner paintings" while exploring color mixing

Explore the Curriculum

Download the Curriculum Handbook

With increasing confidence, children in the 3s Program begin to focus on adults and move beyond their immediate family, as they begin to grow in independence. They show a widening interest in their surroundings and spend time observing and imitating. Pretend play begins to emerge as children create imaginary worlds and make sense of reality. Our classrooms provide opportunities for this through dressing up, using toys and props, construction, and block play.

Children of this age are increasingly social, and teachers provide opportunities for sharing and cooperation. Language and vocabulary are developing quickly and children often use word play by repeating words and sounds over and over again. They thrive on conversation and are able to follow instructions and accept suggestions.

Learning Spanish allows children to build the foundations for foreign language acquisition. Repetition and practice are important, as children like to revisit stories, rhymes, and play familiar games. They are able to categorize and are interested in similarities and differences. Teachers build on this and develop themes that encourage observation and questioning. Early mathematical concepts are formed and children are guided to practice their counting and to solve simple problems.

With growing skill, three-year-olds love to be active! They can run, jump, and hop, and are beginning to cooperate in simple games. Their fine motor skills are developing and they’re able to make marks, paint, draw, and represent with a variety of tools and materials. Through sand and water play, they are able to pour, dig, scoop, and investigate the properties of natural materials.

Units of Inquiry

3s students complete four inquiry-based units that allow for the children’s own curiosity to guide their learning. These units incorporate science and social studies as well as physical, social, and personal growth and development. Our units include inquiries into: how we grow and change, transportation, our roles in the community, and communication through art. Through play, questioning, hands-on experiments and reading- and writing-readiness activities, students come to construct meaning and understand large themes within each unit and take action to demonstrate their learning. As the year progresses, students will develop communication, self-management, research, and social skills through whole group projects and individual activities both inside and outside of the classroom environment.

Language Arts

The language and literacy standards in the 3s program reflect an amalgamation of the standards set by the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Program as well as the Common Core Creative Curriculum for Preschool. Students demonstrate knowledge of phonics and phonemic awareness through daily classroom routines and activities, including games, manipulatives, puzzles, and fine and gross motor experiences. Environmental print is used to introduce the concept that print conveys meaning via daily calendar and schedule review, read­-aloud stories, and dictation of children’s thoughts and ideas. Emerging writing skills are developed through the use of the Handwriting Without Tears Program, which incorporates hands­-on activities, including Roll­-a­-Dough Letters, Stamp and See Screens, and building letters with wooden pieces. Children develop their communication skills through conversations with peers and teachers and sharing opportunities.


Preschool 3s - Math

Mathematics in the 3s program is a year of introduction and practice. We begin the year focusing on mathematic fundamentals such as number recognition and counting. Development of these skills are supported through formal lessons as well as everyday routines such as group time, work time, and free play with classroom manipulatives. Once students have a working knowledge of basic numeracy, we move on to quantifying and connecting numerals with their quantities. Students learn one­-to-­one correspondence before engaging in more analytical math skills. Through topics covered in our Units of Inquiry, as well as daily procedures in the classrooms, students are exposed to identifying and creating patterns. In similar ways, students are also exposed to the concept of sequencing to round out their mathematical skill set. By the end of the year, students have an awareness of the basic foundations of math skills that will be expanded upon during their time in preschool.

Foreign Language


The 3s Spanish program is based on the immersion and richness of the Spanish language. Through exciting activities, songs, dances, storybooks, and games, children develop their communication skills allowing them to integrate a second language into their oral language development. As the children become progressively more familiar and comfortable hearing, understanding, and responding in Spanish, it becomes a natural part of their thought process.


Students in the 3s classroom experience music in a variety of languages and styles. They develop a repertoire of songs from memory, and begin to explore steady beat through singing, speaking, playing classroom instruments, and movement. The songs they sing include holidays, seasons, and often focus on alphabet recognition and counting. Students are also very involved in improvisation. They are encouraged to find different ways to play their instruments in class, and begin to become aware of the different timbres on non­-pitched percussion (like ringing, jingling, rattling, scraping, and clicking). In the 3s music classroom, students also develop the ability to creatively organize musical ideas and sounds.

Physical Education

In the 3s program, children begin to participate in structured physical education classes. In these classes, young students are introduced to the strands of personal, social, and physical education through adventure challenges, athletics, body control and spatial awareness, movement to music, games, gymnastics, and health­-related activities. 3s students are introduced to the proper terminology to various skills found in P.E. class and participate in, and follow directions for, simple games requiring little to no equipment to aid their development in different areas such as spatial awareness, gross motor and fine motor skills, coordination, balance, and components of fitness. The environment places a high priority on safety, physical activity, and tasks with a high rate of success to boost students’ confidence and a positive attitude towards physical education.

Explore the Program of Inquiry

Click here to explore the Program of Inquiry for students 3s-grade 5.

What's Next

Dwight's Preschool Program


Chris Allen
Director of Preschool
(212) 362-2350 Ext 703



Nora Thomson
Director Preschool Admissions
(212) 362-2350 Ext 748