Leland Expands to Early Education for the Top Preschools in the United States

The race to elite higher education has only gotten more competitive. To stand out, students have to start diversifying themselves early. The best way to build a strong foundation is to enroll in a top preschool.

Posted April 11, 2024

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The race to elite higher education has only gotten more competitive. To stand out among the other hundreds of thousands of applicants, students now have to start diversifying themselves early. While high school is the real tipping point for any candidacy, the real trick to getting into a top university is to start with a strong foundation. This foundation teaches the importance of education as well as critical thinking skills that will set them up for success later on.

While there are different ways to build this base, one of the most effective is to enroll children in a top preschool. The importance of choosing a world-class preschool should not be understated. This stage of life is for learning how to learn and, if done well, results in exponential growth that pays dividends over the many years to come.

These elect preschools, however, are difficult to get into. For this reason, Leland is expanding its educational services to include coaching for preschool. We are very excited about the many opportunities that exist in this space and look forward to the impact that our coaches will make.

What started as more of a playful joke (in reaction to our personal experiences trying to get our children into a top preschool), our admissions services for preschool became a reality as we've helped several families navigate the every-changing and increasingly-competitive preschool application process.

We’d now like to introduce you to some of our featured, target schools. These are the top preschools in the country and our coaches are uniquely situated to help your kids gain admission into them.

The 10 Top Preschools in the United States

1. The Episcopal School in the City of New York

  • Location: Upper East Side, New York
  • Tuition: $23,500
  • Application: Families request an application and then schedule a “playdate” for the child, the director of admissions, and the director of the school. This is followed by a one-on-one interview with the child.
  • Classroom: 3 teachers per classroom, 15 students per class
    • Schedule: Morning and afternoon sessions, 5x/week
  • Total Enrollment: 200 children
  • Eligibility: Students must be at least 2 years and 5 months old by August 31 of the new school year
  • Affiliation: Nonsectarian, independent
  • See more here

The Episcopal School’s philosophy is to provide a traditional education that develops children emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically. Their primary goal is to help children build a foundation for a “deeper appreciation of the world, nurturing kindness, respect, and acceptance.” Specialty classes include music, storytelling, creative movement, and library.

2. 92NY Nursery School

  • Location: Upper East Side, New York
  • Tuition: $36,200 (older 2s and young 3s); $39,200 (mid-older 3s); $42,500 (4s and 5s)
  • Application: Interested families should schedule a 75-minute tour where parents can meet the administrators and learn about the curriculum. Applications are available after the tour has been completed. Siblings of current/former students do not need to tour.
  • Classroom Schedule: 9am-12pm (older 2s and young 3s); 9am-1pm (mid-older 3s); 9am-2pm (4s and 5s)
  • Eligibility: Student must be at least 2 years old by March 31 of the year you’re applying
  • Affiliation: Jewish and Shabbat holidays are observed but non-Jewish children are welcome
  • See more here

92NY’s philosophy is centered around building community, confidence, and independence. Programs are well-organized and emphasize creativity and respect. They firmly believe that children learn by doing and play is a medium through which they can explore the world, themselves, and each other. They offer classes on art, music, movement, and language.

3. Avenues NYC Early Learning Center

  • Location: Manhattan, New York
  • Tuition: $65,850/year for 5 days/week (Nursery-12th Grade)
  • Application: Early deadlines are in early November and primary deadlines are in early December. Applications can be submitted after this but are considered only for any remaining openings. Families will be invited to visit the campus after the application has been submitted.
  • Eligibility: The ELC is for students in nursery, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten but additional programs at the same institution are available after that. Nursery students must be 2 and pre-K students 3 by August 31 of the matriculation year.
  • Affiliation: Independent
  • See more here

The ELC experience at Avenues is composed of three principal tenets: language immersion in Spanish or Mandarin, learning through play, and the fostering of healthy habits. From nursery through 5th grade, students spend half of their time learning in English and the other half in Spanish or Mandarin. Learning through play develops motor skills and social-emotional development. The forming of healthy habits helps children build competency and self-confidence.

4. The John Winthrop School for Young Children

  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Tuition for Full Day: $37,100 (Toddlers), $32,700 (Preschool)
  • Application: Applications open in September, after which tours and visits with the director are scheduled. Once accepted, parents will confirm enrollment by signing a contract and paying a deposit.
  • Classroom Schedule: 8:15am-3pm (full day)
    • Morning Schedule: 8:15-11:45am
    • Extended Days: 8:15am-5:30pm
  • Total Enrollment:
  • Eligibility: 15 months-2.8 years old (Toddlers); 2.9-5 years old (Preschool)
  • Affiliation: Independent
  • See more here

The education at John Winthrop is grounded in creativity and a cycle of wonder, exploration, and discovery. The programs are designed to develop social-emotional skills and are suited to each child’s unique needs, learning styles, and abilities. The broader community is built on core values of respect and relationships.

5. Cambridge-Ellis School

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Tuition for Full Day: $35,972 (Toddlers); $32,675 (Preschool)
  • Application: Parents submit an inquiry form online and will then be invited to take a tour and meet with the director. After that, they’ll be formally invited to apply.
  • Classroom: 7 classes, with 2-4 teachers in each
    • Schedule: 8:30am-3pm with extensions available
  • Eligibility: 1 year 9 months-2 years 8 months (Toddlers); 2 years 9 months-3 years 6 months (Lower Preschool); 3 years 7 months-5 years 3 months (Upper Preschool) by September
  • Affiliation: Independent
  • See more here

There are seven classes at CES that are grouped by development. The curriculum is designed to encourage social, emotional, cognitive, and pre-literacy skills, specifically with developing a math and science foundation in mind. CES believes children learn best through active participation, engagement, and play.

6. National Child Research Center

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Tuition for Full Day: $38,225
  • Application: The application process is composed of five steps: (1) submit the online application, (2) submit video footage of the child, (3) submit a preschool recommendation form, (4) submit supporting documents, and (5) attend a play session. The priority deadline lands at the beginning of December and the general in late January.
  • Classroom Schedule: 8:30am-3pm
  • Eligibility: Preschool for ages 3-4; early learning for 2-3-year-olds – recommended that the child turns ⅔ by August 1 of the enrollment year
  • Affiliation: Independent
  • See more here

The philosophy at the NCRC revolves around nourishing the whole child–socially, emotionally, and intellectually. Their primary goal is to develop the child toward a love of learning. The curriculum is child-centered and play-based in an inclusive, diverse environment. The preschool program teaches relationship management, discovery, empathy, self-advocacy, and respect.

7. The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Tuition: $38,202
  • Application: The process starts with an online application, followed by a tour and parent information meeting. There is typically a series of assessments required, including exams or playgroups, a teacher recommendation form, and supporting documents.
  • Classroom: 1 head teacher and 2 assistant teachers or 2 co-head teachers in each class
    • Schedule: The full-day program ends at 2:10pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday and 1:10pm on Wednesday
  • Eligibility: At least 2 years old (Nursery 3) or 3 years old (Nursery 4) on or before September 1 (Nursery 3)
  • Affiliation: Run by the University of Chicago
  • See more here

UCLS utilizes a “negotiated curriculum” approach that’s centered around an environment filled with possibilities. This encourages choice, initiative, exploration, and collaboration. The school believes in children’s capacity to understand the world and convey their ideas and the classrooms are designed so that they can function independently and confidently.

8. Center for Early Education

  • Location: West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
  • Tuition: $25,935 for half day, $31,175 for full day
  • Application: There is a four-step process for preschool admissions. Families should first submit an inquiry form, after which they will receive an email with the next steps. Then, they’ll need to complete the online application and submit the application fee. Once the application has been submitted, they’ll be invited to an Open House. The last step is a parent tour and in-person interview.
  • Classroom: 7 teachers for every 1 early childhood student; each classroom has 22 students and 3 teachers
    • Schedule: 9am-12pm (half day); 9am-3pm (full day)
  • Total Enrollment: 540 (Toddler-6th Grade)
  • Eligibility: The Early Childhood Programs start at age 3. There is also a toddler program for younger children.
  • Affiliation: Independent
  • See more here

The CEE is a socio-economically and culturally diverse school that helps students become joyful, resilient, and lifelong learners. Their approach combines a nurturing, inclusive environment with an increasingly challenging academic program. Its core values are responsibility, honesty, inclusion, and caring.

9. First Presbyterian Nursery School

  • Location: Santa Monica, CA
  • Tuition: $18,500 for 5x/Week
  • Application: Applications are currently open for the Fall of 2023. Parents can apply online, though it’s encouraged that they attend a tour before applying.
  • Eligibility: Students must be at least 2 years and 5 months at the time of enrollment
  • Affiliation: Non-secular, though located on the grounds of the First Presbyterian Church
  • See more here

First Pres Nursery School uses the Reggio Emilia approach to education which utilizes the power of listening; creative projects; the integration of print, clay, sculpture, drama, music, etc.; collaboration among students and teachers to build community; teachers as researchers; and a carefully organized environment to enhance the children’s construction or “his or her own powers of thinking through the synthesis of all the expressive, communicative, and cognitive languages.”

10. The Episcopal School of Dallas

  • Location: Dallas, TX
  • Tuition: $27,485 (Beginner Program, age 3); $29,365 (Pre-k, age 4)
  • Application: To apply for pre-K, families need to submit the application fee, complete a student profile, register for group observation, register for the CATS test, and request/submit current school forms. Application deadlines are in early December.
  • Eligibility: For pre-K, applicants must turn 4 by September 1 of the enrollment year; there is a beginner program for those turning 3
  • Affiliation: Epsicopal
  • See more here

The lower school is for students aged 3 to fourth grade. Its mission is to encourage students to solve problems, think independently, make connections, and ask questions. It utilizes hands-on, interdisciplinary learning experiences that are academically challenging but unique to each child’s unique talents and abilities.

Other notable preschools:

To get your child into the best preschool possible, we highly recommend working with a Leland coach. They’ll be able to provide personalized support that’s grounded in first-hand experience. Head here to get started.

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