Program hours are:
Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–12 p.m.
Children’s School is a developmental preschool for youth ages 2 years and 8 months to 5 years old. The program includes a wide range of social, recreational and educational activities. Weekly themes often incorporate other Chautauqua programs in the areas of music, drama and art.
A typical day at Children’s School includes:
- Developmental play
- Circle time (reading, singing)
- Activity centers (focusing on weekly theme)
- Special guest programs
- Snack time
- Outdoor play
Chautauqua Institution will communicate with registrants regarding COVID-19 protocols for Youth and Family Programs prior to the Summer Assembly. The protocols will be developed according to industry best practices, the most recent data and applicable regulations, and subject to change throughout the summer if and when those factors change.
Built in 1921, the Chautauqua Children’s School pioneered the concept of nursery school education. Additions to the building made in 1926, 1947 and 1969 were followed by a full renovation and expansion in 1994 to its present size and capacity.
Children enrolled in the Children’s School may ride the special bus to and from the school. Please take your child to Children’s School on the first day of attendance to receive specific bus stop information. If you are walking with your child, please be especially careful near the school and the areas designated for bus pick-up and drop-off.
If driving your child (from outside the grounds), you must enter via the Turner Gate, turn right on to Palestine, then make a left and park along Hedding. You may leave your car there briefly while you walk your child to the school. For the safety of our children, do not drive directly to the school or park in any area other than Hedding Avenue.
(NOTE: The below schedule time is morning pick up time | location | afternoon drop off time.)
8:30 a.m. | Farmers Market | n/a
8:32 a.m. | Lincoln Park | 12:11 p.m.
8:35 a.m. | Cookman & Massey | 12:13 p.m.
8:38 a.m. | Overlook | 12:16 p.m.
8:41 a.m. | Hall of Christ | 12:19 p.m.
8:42 a.m. | Heinz Beach | 12:22 p.m.
8:46 a.m. | S. Lake and Cookman | 12:23 p.m.
8:47 a.m. | Sports Club | 12:25 p.m.
8:50 a.m. | Colonnade | 12:27 p.m.
8:57 a.m. | School | n/a
n/a | Palestine and Scott | 12:06 p.m.
8:35 a.m. | Main Gate | 12:08 p.m.
8:36 a.m. | Library | 12:13 p.m.
8:40 a.m. | Miller Park | 12:19 p.m.
8:42 a.m. | Gleason | 12:20 p.m.
8:45 a.m. | McClintock & N. Lake | 12:21 p.m.
8:46 a.m. | Evergreen & Pratt | 12:24 p.m.
8:48 a.m. | North Shore Condo | 12:26 p.m.
8:50 a.m. | Pines | 12:27 p.m.
8:53 a.m. | Dance Studio | 12:28 p.m.
8:55 a.m. | School | n/a
The Children’s School is under the leadership of Director Kit Trapasso, a retired school psychologist from Medina, N.Y. Kit has served the Children’s School as director since 1984. Each classroom is staffed with one certified head teacher and assistant teachers. The teachers work as a team and share classroom responsibilities to create an enriching, positive atmosphere. A high percentage of staff returns to the Children’s School each year.
Special Information to Parents of Three-Year-Olds
Our three-year-old program (now accepting children as young as 2 years and 8 months old) is designed for children who are “potty trained.” We do not have sufficient staff and facilities to assist children who require diapering or who have consistent problems using the toilet. For program purposes, “pull-ups” style diapers do not constitute “toilet trained.” We urge you to consider your child’s comfort level with using the toilet prior to registering. We recognize that children can experience occasional accidents and we invite all parents to send a change of clothing with their child at the start of their child’s enrollment (see below). We also recognize that children who have not been in programs such as this may also experience some regression. However, if your child arrives in diapers and/or is unable to use the toilet with assistance consistently, his or her enrollment will be canceled and a refund issued.
Families are invited and encouraged to help ease their child’s entry into the program by familiarizing their child with the Children’s School campus and classrooms. Parents and children are welcome to visit the School and our playgrounds on Monday through Friday afternoons and/or on Saturdays and Sundays.
Regardless of previous experiences, new threes will undergo many new experiences as they begin their stay at Children’s School. Your child may need adult support as he or she enters the program. We invite you to remain in the classroom until your child is comfortable. Please feel free to check back on your child at any point during the morning. You may also ask a staff member to check on your child and give you an update.
Please send an extra change of clothing for your child. Please put the clothing in a bag with your child’s name clearly marked on the outside. This bag will be kept in a cubby and returned at the end of your child’s stay in the program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do any of the staff babysit during the season?
A list of babysitters from the grounds and surrounding community is compiled by the Education Department. This list may or may not include Children’s School staff. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy of the babysitting list.
What should my child wear?
Children should wear clothing and shoes appropriate for active play (no open-toed shoes). Families should supply an extra set of clothes for any accidents or emergencies (note: all children must be toilet-trained before attending Children’s School). There is space in each classroom to store extra clothing. Be sure all articles are labeled with the child’s full name.
Do the children take naps?
The daily schedule does not include a nap time but the children do take quiet “breaks” and have a snack during the morning.
May I enroll my 2 1/2 year old in the 3 year old class if he/she has been in a nursery school at home or is exceptionally mature?
Children must be at least 2 years and 8 months of age at the beginning of the program week.
Do the children spend their entire morning in the classroom?
A typical day at the Children’s School includes classroom-based activities but also includes outdoor play, walking to other Chautauqua program sites or visits to the Smith Memorial Library for story hours.
What regulations or guidelines impact the operation of Children’s School?
Children’s School operates under a day camp permit granted by the New York State Department of Health. Teacher-to-student ratios, safety and emergency plans, and available medical staff support are all requirements of the permit-granting procedure.
May I register my child for single days or half days?
Registration for Children’s School may only be completed for full week sessions. Prorating, partial refunds, or other discounts for less than one week attendance will not be processed.