Inside Philly’s New Day Care and Preschool Boom

A sampling of the high-minded, high-stakes child-care scene in Center City and beyond.

The country’s birth rate is at an all-time low, but you’d never know it from walking around Philly. (Forget bike lanes; we need stroller lanes.) Entrepreneurs are meeting the needs of this pint-size cohort with art studios, play places, an indoor soccer facility — y’know, suburb stuff — in droves. But nowhere is the hip-city-parent trend more apparent than in the cadre of child-care facilities — at least eight, by our count — that have opened in greater Center City in the past two years alone. Here, a sampling of the high-minded, high-stakes preschool scene:

Aspen Grove School

Where? Grad Hospital
Opened: 2017
Mission: “To inspire and encourage all children to develop a lifelong love of learning, celebrate their strengths, thrive in their differences and believe that they too can make a dent in the universe.”
Ages: 6 weeks to 5 years
How many kids? 100+
Tuition: $1,674/month for infants
Waitlist? A new day care in Rittenhouse South? Hell yes.

Primrose School of Center City

Where? Center City
Opened: 2016
Mission: “Primrose exists to forge a path that leads to a brighter future for all children. We believe that who children become is as important as what they know.”
Ages: 6 weeks to 5-plus years
How many kids? 130
Tuition: $1,985/month for infants
Waitlist? Despite being the most expensive of the lot (note: they do have food service!), yes.

Philly Montessori

Where? Bella Vista
Opened: Expected September 2018
Mission: “To bring out each child’s natural curiosity, joy for learning and independence. Our school is designed as a micro-school in order to provide a highly personalized educational setting for each child that we serve.”
Ages: 2½ to 6 years
How many kids? 25
Tuition: $15,000/year for a 10-month academic year, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Waitlist? Not officially! (But settle down; there are already more applications than spots.)

Organic Beginnings

Where? Bella Vista
Opened: 2018
Mission: “Our play-based curriculum allows learning to emerge naturally by encouraging a child’s sense of wonder to guide their interactions with their environment, peers and caregivers.”
Ages: 6 weeks to 5 years
How many kids? 52
Tuition: $1,600/month for infants
Waitlist? Not yet … better run!

Children’s House of Philadelphia: A Montessori Preschool

Where? South Philly
Opened: 2017
Mission: “Our school enables children to reach their full potential as inspired learners, independent thinkers, and future model citizens.”
Ages: 18 months to 6 years
How many kids? 30+
Tuition: $13,170/year
Waitlist? No, but plenty of applications.

Germantown Friends School Early Childhood Program

Where? Washington Square
Opened: 2017
Mission: “Guided by Quaker principles, our multi-disciplinary curriculum is taught through a combination of structured activity and free exploration, which fosters children’s natural curiosity.”
Ages: 2 years, 7 months through 5 years
How many kids? 35-45
Tuition: $20,500/year for preschoolers
Waitlist? Yes, but applications are still being accepted, as additional spots may open up.

Published as “The Baby-Care Boom” in the March 2018 issue of Philadelphia magazine.