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Early Childhood Education Center in Manhattan, NYC

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Pono Learning, Manhattan:
Pono Learning is a democratic and fully learner-directed education center in Manhattan, NYC that serves children from the age of 2 ½ to 5 years old. Pono Learning is an outdoors learning center set up with the purpose of immersing children in rich, stimulating learning environments and harmonious learning communities where each child’s interests and natural innate desire to learn are cherished, nurtured, and guided to flourish into becoming life-long learners, critical thinkers, and balanced human beings.

Email: Contact us here     ( or request a callback ).

What is Pono?

Photo of Early Childhood Education Center in Manhattan, NYCPono, a traditional Hawaiian concept denoting perfect harmony and equilibrium, inspires everything we do. We strive to create a learning environment of perfect harmony with our children, families, teachers, and other members of the Pono community. We make every effort so that our lessons, meals, programs and projects achieve a state of Pono among our community, bigger society, and nature.

Our Principles:
Pono Learning is the only democratic and fully learner-directed education center in Manhattan that serves children from the age of 2 ½ to 5 years old. We will expand the age range as Pono Learning progresses.

Within our culturally diverse community, the children are exposed to foreign languages, such as Arabic, Japanese, and Spanish. Parents are vital members of the Pono community. They are invited, and actually encouraged, to stay with the children for as long as they wish to. There is a myriad of activities for parents to participate in with and without the children.

The culture of mutual respect and the spirit of generosity are infused in many aspects of the learning and community at Pono Learning. Teacher to student ratio is 1 to 3 or better. There are also visiting teachers, interns, and volunteers.

Children are offered a variety of non-compulsory lessons throughout the course of the day. Depending on the interests of the children, the areas addressed in lessons may include natural sciences, movement, ecology, health, nutrition, language arts, theatre, art, yoga, music, cultural and global studies, and others. Literacy and mathematics are embedded in all offerings.

Pono Learning Beliefs:

Image of Early Childhood Education Center in Manhattan, NYC
- Children are learning creatures who are naturally curious and inquisitive, and who strive for understanding and competence. The structure at Pono Learning - whether it is voluntary classes; mixed age groupings; the absence of a pre-set curriculum, homework, tests, and grades—contributes to a fulfilling and enjoyable learning experience. We support their basic human drive to learn and grow by providing the opportunity to direct and regulate their learning in the manner that they choose, at their own place and pace, and for as long as they want and need. 

- Children, no matter how young, learn responsibility by being given responsibility. Each child and teacher has an equal voice in decisions that affect the daily operation of the center. Children at Pono Learning have the responsibility and freedom to govern not only their learning, but also their own school community.

- Learning happens everywhere, and it happens best when children are immersed in authentic environments and situations, rather than through rote or forced instruction in rigid artificial settings. While the learning environment we create is natural, unwired, open-ended, dynamic, and flexible, it always adapts and adjusts to the interests of the students.We take full advantage of the riches and resources available in New York City: We hold most sessions in parks and gardens, museums, theaters, art studios and so on. We create partnerships with different educational and cultural organizations to provide and facilitate access to different events. 

- A healthy environment is one in which Pono exists. Pono, a traditional Hawaiian concept denoting perfect harmony and equilibrium, inspires everything we do. We strive to create a learning environment of perfect harmony with our children, families, teachers, and other members of the Pono community. We make every effort so that our lessons, meals, programs and projects achieve a state of Pono among our community, bigger society, and nature.

- The role of teachers is to nurture, guide, and support the interests and natural progress of the children. More importantly, they teach by example how to be socially conscious; how to pursue learning journeys; and how to live harmoniously in a community where one's freedom ends when it interferes with the freedom of others.

- Children and adults learn together and from each other, despite presumed or identified abilities, disabilities, challenges, and labels. All members of the Pono Learning community work together on creating a fully inclusive learning environment that is free of attitudinal, structural and physical barriers that would hinder the full participation of its members in the community.

Pono learning is an education center:

- Where children spend the majority of their time out of the classroom…
- Where character, personality, and community are as important as learning…
- Where learning is initiated and directed by the children…
- Where teachers are not only experts in their fields, but balanced and relaxed human beings who fully believe in the mission of the school…
- Where children pursue long-term projects and in-depth work that naturally embed many academic and non-academic areas…
- Where the school is governed through a democratic process; each student and teacher having an equal share in the decision making…
- Where classes are optional; there is a timetable for teachers but not children…
- Where success is not measured by academic achievement or arbitrary standards, but determined by the child's own definition of success…    
- And, where children have the time and space to sit, to think, to play, and to dream…

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Address: 2002 5th Ave, Manhattan, New York , USA
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