Celebrating 50 Years of Early Childhood Development

A Play-Based, Interactional Approach to Learning

Explore Classrooms
Apply Now
Explore Classrooms
Apply now

Eat, Drink and Be Giving with Purple Circle!

Please find below some helpful links for this year's upcoming Auction and Gala, on Tuesday, May 23.


“Experience is a moving force when it arouses curiosity, strengthens initiative and sets up desires and purposes.” – John Dewey

At Purple Circle Early Childhood Program, children have the opportunity to interact with materials, and develop connections with both children and adults.  Purple Circle is an independent Early Childhood Program that supports the development and education of infants, toddlers and children ages 3 months through 5 years. Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, it was founded in 1972 as a parent-cooperative that values families as integral members of the school community. The partnership between families and teachers is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive and the physical growth of children. Our exceptional student-to-teacher ratio affords teachers time to observe, describe, and document all children closely in order to know them as unique individuals. Knowing children as unique individuals, Purple Circle is able to provide a variety of materials in every classroom that supports each child’s strengths and interests. Outdoor play is an essential component in the development of children. Neighborhood parks such as Camel Park, Red Park, Hippo Park, Tot Lot and Riverside Park are visited daily by teachers and children.

Multiple time options are available to families to accommodate an array of schedules.

Purple Circle is a non-profit, non-discriminatory school welcoming children and families of all racial, religious, socio-economic, national or ethnic origins and family configurations.

A Peek Inside the Classroom


Welcome to the Purple Circle school website. I hope that our website will give you a chance to discover our school’s commitment to children, families and our community.

Since December 2000, as the director of Purple Circle, I have had the opportunity to build upon the play-based curriculum originally established in 1972. I have worked alongside our teachers to preserve the theory that children learn best through play. It is through close observation of children at play that our teachers develop curriculum and come to know the children as thinkers and learners. Our teachers are dedicated to creating a safe and inclusive classroom community that supports each child’s strengths and interests.

All children need to play.

Elaine Karas, Executive Director

Purple Circle is Accepting Applications for All Age Groups for 2023/2024

Click below to learn more about our application process and to view the online membership application in full