Bank Street School for Children was founded in 1916 in New York City by visionary educator Lucy Sprague Mitchell as The Bureau of Educational Experiments, a laboratory nursery school staffed by teachers, psychologists, and researchers who worked to discover the environments in which children grew and learned to their full potential, and to educate teachers and others how to create these environments.
Until 1970, the Bureau was located in lower Manhattan. It set up shop at 9 Bank Street in 1930, and remained there until 1970, when it moved to its present location, on West 112th Street. Today, Bank Street comprises a Graduate School, to train teachers; a full program of children's services, including the famed School for Children; and many outreach programs for educators and the community at large.
The School for Children is an independent demonstration school for Bank Street College and a working model of the College's approach to learning and teaching. Education at the School is experience-based, interdisciplinary, and collaborative. The emphasis is on educating the whole child—the entire emotional, social, physical, and intellectual being—while at the same time, the child's integrity as learner, teacher, and classmate is valued and reinforced.
The School is divided into Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools in order to accommodate the differing developmental stages and curriculum needs of children. The school offers a rich learning environment while providing the College with a setting for teacher training, educational research, and the development of curriculum materials. The School is truly a "demonstration" school. It embodies all the principles of children's growth and learning that were derived from Bank Street's philosophy of progressive education, and demonstrates the "ideal" representation of that philosophy in action. Thus, the School is the standard by which the College evaluates and attempts to improve education in other schools, particularly the public schools. The School for Children also serves as a benchmark of the kind of education that Bank Street is working to provide in other schools in New York City and school systems across the country.
The School for Children and the College have a common administration and share a ten-story building, built in 1970, on West 112th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive, on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The School occupies the second, third, and fourth floors of the building, and uses the library, computer, foreign language, physical education facilities, and cafeteria on other floors.