Mission & History

Manhattan School for Children was founded in the early 1990s through a cooperative effort of parents, teachers and staff members of NYC’s Community School District 3. It is a school of choice, open to children who are zoned for District 3. Since that time, MSC’s educators and parents have worked to build and maintain a school community in which students of different racial/ethnic, socio-economic, as well as physical and academic abilities, come together to celebrate multiple ways of knowing the world and each other. Our student-centered, project-based pedagogical focus and instructional program is unique and grounded in the philosophy of a “community of learners.” We believe that all children are gifted in multiple ways, and we organize the curriculum thematically using an open-ended, inter-disciplinary project-based approach that allows students to demonstrate their talents while learning from each other. In this way, we respond to each child’s unique developmental needs while encouraging a meaningful learning process.


  • Children learn by doing

  • Children learn at different rates, using different strengths and different learning styles

  • Children learn about the world in an integrated way

  • Children learn when they feel good about themselves

  • Children learn when their parents are active participants in their school

  • Our ICT (Integrated Collaborative Teaching) Program was created to include children with severe motor challenges into a general education setting. Students in the classrooms follow on-grade curriculum, assessing it in their own way.

Teaching and Collaboration for Differentiated Instruction

Over the years MSC teachers came to realize that our children have many different educational backgrounds and learning styles. Though teachers strove to provide a rich environment where children could be actively involved in their learning and in “learning by doing,” there were still students who experienced difficulties learn- ing (especially learning “basics” in reading and arithmetic). MSC teachers maintain balanced reading and mathematics programs. In addition to explicitly teaching mathematical concepts and number facts, we involve children in hands-on and cooperative problem solving. Likewise, our literacy curriculum; involving students in real (purposeful) reading and writing.

Building a Community of Learners

As you go through the life cycle, every stage of life has to add something to the possibility of being able to obey the Golden Rule-- Erik Erikson (cited in Charney, Teaching Children to Care.) Our most important responsibility is teaching children to respect themselves and others in their neighborhood, school and classroom communities--teaching children to live by the Golden Rule. Using many of the lessons and routines outlined in The Advisory Book, MSC classroom teachers have built classroom communities in which children can articulate and live up to the expectation of being treated with fairness and respect as they learn to treat each other with that same respect. Following lessons in which children articulate their goals and declerations for the year, many classroom communities have derived a do-able list of classroom rules and expectations that facilitate learning and are based on the Golden Rule. From Advisory to lessons in Social Stud- ies, from the way they handle transitions to they way they provide service to others in their community, MSC students of all ages learn the foundations of caring and take on the responsibilities of good citizenship.

Rights and Responsibilities

Our focus as educators is providing a fair school climate that accommodates and supports each student. The Manhattan School for Children community has evolved Rights and Responsibilities, with a structure for inter- ventions and consequences, as necessary. These expectations are meant to secure the safety and learning of all students and to manage groups of students with fairness as they participate in class, in arts studios, gym, the playground, assemblies and all out-of-classroom activities, and as they travel through the building, or leave on field trips.

The code of conduct at MSC is based on three core principles: 1. Respect for Self; 2. Respect for Others; and, 3. Respect for One’s Actions. These principles support and maintain a learning community wherein students’ rights, listed below, are balanced by expectations of respect and responsibility.

  • Students have the right to work and learn.

  • Students have the right to feel safe and to be glad that they are in school.

  • Students have the right to be treated fairly and respectfully by adults and by their peers.

We teach respect and responsibility at each grade level in age appropriate ways. Social and personal respon- sibilities are taught in classroom morning meetings; these values are also integrated into core curriculum study at each grade level.appreciate diversity. To us, childhood is something to be enjoyed and savored, not simply passed through on the way to adulthood. 

Core Themes

The core curriculum is interdisciplinary, emphasizing the study of artistic communication and language arts as well as technological, mathematical and scientific inquiry skills. It is designed to help students develop the skills necessary to participate as informed and responsible citizens in a rapidly changing world. MSC believes they can do this best by exploring and studying the world around them. 

Classes engage students in an extended period of study, research and reading. The curriculum themes build upon each other from year to year with students studying material of increasing levels of complexity and sophistication. The core curriculum integrates City and State standards into daily inquiry-based learning. This means that children’s work balances hands-on exploration with skill acquisition in a variety of subjects.

Responsive Classroom

Responsive Classroom is a research and evidence-based approach to education that fosters safe, challenging, and joyful classrooms in schools, kindergarten through eighth grade. Responsive Classroom practices help educators become more effective in three key domains each of which enables and enriches the others:
Engaging Academics Teachers create learning tasks that are active interactive, appropriately challenging,‑purposeful, and connected to students’ interests.

Positive Community Teachers nurture a sense of belonging, significance, and emotional safety so that students feel comfortable taking risks and working with a variety of peers.

Effective Management Teachers create a calm, orderly environment that promotes autonomy and allows students to focus on learning.

To meet the unique combination of social, emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of young adolescents, the Developmental Designs/ Origins (Responsive classroom at the middle level: 5th-8th grade) approach offers an array of strategies designed to keep young people safe, connected, responsible, and engaged in learning. The Developmental Designs approach is based on our research-grounded belief that healthy, enjoyable relationships are the foundation for success in school.


Primarily for reasons relating to curriculum — in order to more closely address the developmental needs of our students — MSC is divided into two houses:

  • Lower House (Kindergarten - Grade 3)

  • Upper House (Grades 4 - Grade 8)