Welcome to The Red Balloon!

We are an early childhood learning center founded in 1972 and housed in a spacious facility within a  Columbia University residential building.  

Our center provides a year-long, full-week, full-day program  for children 2-5 years old. We also have limited partial-week, full day programs. Our doors open at 8am and close at 6pm. We provide breakfast, a hot fresh lunch, and an afternoon snack in a "nut-free" environment.

Our Mission

The Red Balloon strives to be a model of exemplary early childhood education practices. We partner with families to create a safe nurturing environment where children are encouraged to reach their full potential while planting the seed for lifelong learning.

Our Story

It was a lucky day in 1972 when Rebecca Rikleen along with several other families living in 560 RIverside Drive got together and founded The Red Balloon. Though it began as a small Parent Cooperative, run by these families it soon grew requiring  more space and a larger professional staff. Columbia University donated this spectacular space and a new staff was hired.

The school is committed to helping local needy families with scholarships. We believe the uniqueness of our diverse learning community helps children and their families value differences ultimately leading to increased understanding, empathy and acceptances of all members of our society. 

We inspire children to test the water of Life. We understand that true learning is about taking risks. With encouragement and supervision, we embolden our children to work through challenges and forge ahead into new territories where all adults and children work together as a community.

Kindergarten Admissions Process

The Red Balloon realizes that the process of applying to Kindergarten in NYC can be daunting and stressful on families. We help our families to identify the best Kindergarten programs for them and succeed in the application process and beyond, as they consider some of the best private and public schools in NYC. Our director, Norma Brockman, and Robin Arnow, who specializes in Kindergarten admissions, provide personal, direct guidance to families as they navigate the application process.

Our students have been accepted --and in many cases, received scholarships to-- numerous private schools, including: Alexander Robertson, Bank Street School for Children, Calhoun, Cathedral, Columbia Grammar and Prep, Dalton, Ethical Culture/Fieldston, Friends Seminary, Riverdale Country School, The Rudolf Steiner School, St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's, The School at Columbia, Spence, and Trevor Day School.

OUr students have also been accepted to a number of prestigious, citywide Gifted and Talented programs, including: Anderson, Hunter Elementary, New Explorations into Science, Technology and Mathematics (NEST+m), Talented And Gifted (TAG). In addition, they attend numerous G&T programs and dual language programs in public schools in Districts 3, 5, and 6. 

Preparing students and supporting families to successfully undertake this important transition to Kindergarten is a cornerstone of how Red Balloon continues to build long-lasting relationships that oftentimes persist with alums and their families. 

2013-2014 Calendar

  • 9/3 School Opens
  • 9/10 Parent Orientation, 6:00pm
  • 10/4 Apple Picking School Trip
  • 10/14 Columbus Day, School Closed
  • 10/22 Parent Workshop "Limits and Routines", 6:00pm
  • 11/1 Halloween Party, 6:00pm
  • 11/11 Veteran's Day, School Closed
  • 11/15 Staff Development, School Closed
  • 11/28-11/29 Thanksgiving Break
  • 12/20 Holiday "Pot Luck" Party, 6:00pm
  • 12/23-1/1 Winter Break
  • 1/13 Parent/Teacher Conference
  • 1/20 Martin Luther King Day, school closed
  • 2/7 Staff Development, school closed
  • 2/17 President's Day, school closed
  • 4/11 "Disco Night", 6:00pm
  • 4/18 Good Friday, school closed
  • 5/9 Staff Development, school closed
  • 5/16 School Trip, TBD
  • 5/26 Memorial Day, school closed
  • 6/6 "Jazz in June Auction"
  • 6/13 Orange Room Graduation
  • 6/27 School BBQ, 6:00pm
  • 7/4 Fourth of July, school closed
  • 8/25-8/29 Clean-up week, school closed