If you teach children how to learn, they can go anywhere.

At City and Country School, we are dedicated to encouraging the kind of real learning and thinking that cannot be dictated, but which develops naturally in a carefully planned environment with teachers who support and challenge their students. 

Our students master the “3 Rs,” as well as the vital skills of critical thinking and problem solving, because they have something “real to think about.” We create a setting in which meaningful intellectual and social challenges arise naturally—ones that children want and do learn to solve because the issues are real and important to them. Students at C&C learn by doing and are active participants in the school community and the larger world.

Social Studies, the core of the curriculum, is concretely expressed by children through the use of blocks in the Lower School (2s–7s); Jobs, driven by research, help to serve this function in the Middle School (8s–10s) and Upper School (11s–13s)

The term “Social Studies” is broadly interpreted at C&C to incorporate the study of one’s world—the interconnections among people, institutions and society at large. Through these studies, students understand the diverse identities, backgrounds, and cultures inherent in our city. Lessons learned are then integrated into students’ day to day lives as individuals, members of a Group, family, and greater community. 

Instead of “class,” we refer to the children at each age as a “Group.” “Group” suggests the spirit of community and working together that is intrinsic to C&C. The nature of our program—the collaborative work, the jobs, the shared materials, the cooperative learning, decision making, and problem-solving—provides children with opportunities to experience and understand how to live and work together with care, fairness, and respect.

In-depth explorations of topics occur in a carefully designed, age-appropriate sequence and serve as a jumping-off point for virtually all other subjects during the school year, starting with younger children’s explorations of their Classroom and C&C, expanding outwards to neighborhood, city, and finally “long ago and far away” for our oldest children. As such, C&C students don’t just learn facts and figures, but learn to think critically, creatively, and equitably in their academic pursuits. Through their jobs, children solidify skills in context, and develop authentic confidence, responsibility, and resourcefulness.

In short, City and Country School teaches children how to learn. Graduates build upon this skill in the wide range of High Schools they attend—standing out as confident, original thinkers. Our alumni pursue every imaginable path, carrying this enriching approach to learning throughout their lives.

To learn more about our educational philosophy, click here.

Learn more about C&C’s Programs within each of our three Schools, through our Specials, and through our Auxiliary Programs by expanding each section below:

Lower School (2s–7s)

The Lower School is a place of deep exploration and astounding cognitive, social-emotional, and physical growth. Academics are incorporated in developmentally appropriate ways—acting as additional tools for learning rather than rote ABCs and 123s. Too, lessons in social justice and the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion are weaved into students’ day-to-day, always springing forth from the work at hand.

Children learn how to recreate what they see and experience in the world around them using open-ended materials (our founder Caroline Pratt’s Unit Blocks front and center), motion (C&C’s Rhythms Program), Music, and more.

Each year is different at C&C, led by our children and fostered by our teachers. Teachers meet each child where they are developmentally, while gently guiding them forward in their learning arc. Teachers also foster collective social experiences that we believe is fundamental in motivating even our youngest children to learn. Carefully selected open-ended materials and time on the daily schedule are the ingredients that help to facilitate powerful and satisfying experiences.

With the culmination of their studies in the 7s—extended research on the City of New York—students are equipped with the independent work habits and social skills necessary for Middle School.

–Jane Clarke, Director of Lower School

Read more about the Lower School

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  • C&C’s Blocks Program
  • C&C’s Rhythms Program
  • The 2s
  • The 3s
  • The 4s
  • The 5s
  • The 6s
  • The 7s
  • Middle School (8s–10s)

    C&C’s Middle School expands upon the individual and Group explorations that take place within the Lower School. Students receive more formal instruction in Specials and undertake more formal research, fueled by time in the Library, and driven by Social Studies and the cornerstone of the Middle School—the Jobs Program.
    8s who run the School Post Office learn the importance of clear communication and thus naturally improve their Language Arts skills. 9s who run the School Store don’t just learn math because they have to, but because they want to—they know it will help them with the job they’ve been assigned.

    Middle School students truly give back to the community through their jobs, because each job is necessary for the community. Students form deep understandings and connections in the process. They also take great ownership in their work—and the school. 10s know every corner of the school, having created all of the signs, including directions.

    Students in the Middle School share what they learn at the end of each year with their community through Plays. These Plays are written and performed by students based on their year-long studies of the societies of long ago and far away: for 8s, the Lenape of Manhattan; for 9s, American Westward Migrations in the 1700s; for 10s, Mesopotamia or Egypt.

    Students leave the Middle School ready to tackle more abstract concepts and gain an even higher level of responsibility and independence in the Upper School.

    Read more about the Middle School
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    Upper School (11s–13s)

    As the Jobs, Social Studies, and Plays continue in the Upper School, our teachers foster the students’ budding independence. Students build their abstract thinking skills—forming opinions and defending them in written and oral presentations, seeing the cause and effect of an historical event, and predicting an outcome for a similar situation today.

    Our students’ ability to debate with peers and teachers is evident by reviewing the numerous wins by our C&C Debate Team—or by simply entering an Upper School classroom on any given occasion.

    C&C students look further out into the world, as they prepare to step into it. They also look inward to C&C, becoming both stewards and experts of the community within which they have grown.

    Our 11s run the printing presses that provide attendance slips from day one. 12s mentor the 4s—taking care of younger members of our community helps 12s grow independent and more responsible at the moment, developmentally, when they are most ready. In their last year, 13s take stock and are given an opportunity to share what they learned through their role as journalists for their Job, the School Newspaper.

    When children graduate from City and Country School, guided by the high school placement process, they understand at a core level how to pursue their curiosity about life, and they have the confidence to do so. They have developed a love for learning and the self-motivation to succeed.

    –Karen Brandt, Director of Upper School

    Read more about the Upper School

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    Children’s work at C&C is rooted in practical and engaging situations, with Specials embedded into their core social studies curriculum in different ways, depending on the age of the children. Our youngest children receive less formal Academic instruction, primarily from their Group Teachers. As students get older and more time is spent on Academics, students spend more time with Specials Teachers.

    By Middle School, Specials become an integral part of the weekly routine, providing the children not only with multisensory modes of learning and the skills intrinsic to each discipline, but also the opportunity to express the information they are acquiring through their social studies research in new ways. Subjects such as Math, Language Arts, and Science become necessary tools, and children’s deepening understanding and skill with each is the logical outcome.

    The program cultivates mastery of each subject and, significantly, it allows children to see how subjects naturally come together in their studies—and as they experience the world.

    Learn more about our Specials by clicking on the links below.

    Auxiliary Programs

    Our 4s–13s extend their learning before and after school at C&C in many ways. Some are free (most notably our Team Sports Program), and some require an extra fee. Some are academic, some are creative, and some are more physical. But no matter what children do before and after school at C&C, each experience is designed to enrich our students and complement our curriculum.

    Children may choose to continue what they’re working on within the school day. Or, they may improve their teamwork, as with Team Sports, starting in the 10s. They may give back to their community by volunteering after school on projects created by our Community Roots Group. Or, they may start a new passion through classes that include Chess, Computer Programming, Robotics, Yoga, Dance, and more.

    The possibilities are plentiful. As with C&C’s main program, the Auxiliary Programs are always evolving to reflect the passions and interests of the current students—sometimes with classes created and run by students themselves.

    –Natalie Joseph, Director of Auxiliary Programs

    Read more about Before and After School at C&C.

    Read more about Sports at C&C.