First Program

The Dalton Plan in the First Program

Housed in three adjacent townhouses on East 91st Street, the First Program provides a homelike, protective, and nurturing environment for children.

At every age level within the First Program, an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning is coupled with special consideration for each child's individual interests as well as the importance of community responsibility. The positive feedback given to the children - based on their own efforts, ideas, and accomplishments, as well as the developmental understanding on the part of the educators about each child's social and emotional needs - helps all First Program youngsters to meet challenges with the persistence and optimism necessary for developing competence, confidence, and self-esteem.

List of 3 items.

  • House

    The First Program views House, the first component of the Dalton Plan, as the basic organizational unit for all children, a gathering place that serves as each student’s home base. Following the guidelines established by Helen Parkhurst, the school’s founder, and articulated in Dalton's K-3 Curriculum Guide, the House Advisor and Associate Teacher in each House create a stimulating, academically rigorous curriculum in the language arts, mathematics, and social studies disciplines, in conjunction with specialists in Spanish, chess, dance/theater, science, music, art, physical education, and library. In addition, reading and math specialists work with students individually or in small groups to provide support and enrichment. While the academic work is paramount, the purpose of House is to provide a safe, secure, learning environment that encourages risk-taking and promotes community building. House at the First Program is comprised of students in the same grade. The House Advisor and Associate Teacher in each First Program classroom maintain close, ongoing contact with parents, informing them as to the social, emotional, and academic growth of the students throughout the year. They also meet formally with parents on designated conference days in the fall and winter terms.
  • Assignment

    The Assignment is the second component of the Dalton Plan and offers children a range of choices for exploring and learning concepts, activities, and skills within a subject area. Students learn to structure and plan their work time, and they receive frequent feedback from their teachers. The Assignment provides practice of foundational skills and allows students to pursue lines of inquiry of their own design.
  • Lab

    The word “Laboratory” best describes the educational atmosphere that Dalton strives to create, which combines study, research, and collaboration. “Lab” refers to the one-to-one and small group sessions between students and teachers, which augment the classroom experiences. At the First Program, children are presented with opportunities to make educational choices about their learning and in the process discover how to identify their interests and how to learn more about them.