Morningside PlayCare


Nursery - 2nd Grade

In Collaboration with Columbia University affiliates, we have created a Mandarin & Spanish Immersion Lab Pre-School with online and brick & mortar classes.

Give your child a lifelong gift by making them multilingual.  Your child will begin understanding a new language in a matter of weeks.

Early Childhood Education Reimagined

We are a 100% Mandarin and Spanish immersion program. Morningside PlayCare's distinctive play-based and nature-based curriculum was inspired by Waldorf schools, Flying Deer Nature Center, and yoga. In 2015 Mom/Educator, Gail Foster, approached leaders in the field of early childhood education and linguistics with a vision:  Let’s establish a model nursery school specifically designed to tap the emerging neuroscience on the linguistic genius of the young brain. With support from scholars and practitioners, Dr. Foster recruited Columbia affiliated families with toddlers to collaborate in the start-up of an early childhood program that would give their children the gift of multilingualism.
At Morningside PlayCare children are taught solely in Mandarin or Spanish which leads to being able to learn a new language faster.  Give your child the gift of a second language by making them confident & multi-lingual. Morningside PlayCare cultivates the language genius, open mindedness, and wonder-filled hearts of young children.

- Give your child an upper hand -

And lay the foundation for success

Not many parents know this, but the traditional model for early childhood education is out-of-sync with current research on developing brains. Groundbreaking neuroscience research shows us that children aged 0-6 are, for all intents and purposes, “geniuses” at language-learning. Linguists claim that hands-on immersion is the most effective way to learn a foreign language.

Research shows that multi-linguals have enhanced cognitive development, are more agile thinkers, and out-perform their peers on standardized tests.

Through our own experience, we’ve found that children who are immersed in a second language from age 1 are fluent by age 5. Why, then, are there so few early childhood language immersion programs in the U.S? Most Americans are still, monolingual, even with the rising importance of diplomatic, social, and business relations with countries like China.

If you want to wire your child’s young brain now for success. If you want to give them an advantage in life; if you want him to have distinctive skills that boost his confidence; if you want to make a path for her to contribute to a global economy, now is the time to lay the foundation – through language immersion.

Morningside PlayCare Programs

Mandarin and Spanish are two of the most spoken languages in the world.

Send your child to a PlayCare that does more than just teach nursery rhymes. We make 2nd and 3rd languages a normal part of everyday life, making it fun and simple to become a trilingual leader of the future!

Programs for Children Aged 18-Months to 7-Years-Old

Mommy & Me Online

Classes (18 Months to 6

Years Old)

Online Classes

(4-7 Years Old)

In-Person Preschool

(18 Months to 6 Years Old)

Why Morningside PlayCare?


We’re not just a small school, we’re a family;


Being nature scientists is our play;


Organic, hot meals and a song of gratitude before we eat;


Safer environment; a proven lab curriculum that honors body, Self and life;


Our families are multicultural;
our staff diverse;


Learn to speak, read, and write in a 2nd or 3rd language;


Classes hosted in-person or online from home;


Education with qualified childcare
providers and native
Mandarin / Spanish / English speakers;


Your child will start to understand their new language in a matter of weeks;


Be part of a lab school where scholars are creating best practices in the field.

Meet Our Lead Teachers

Panpan Cui, PhD 

Lead Mandarin Teacher

Dr. Panpan Cui (Cui Laoshi) is an mom-educator, and native Mandarin speaker with a Ph.D. in Theoretical Linguistics and International Cultural Studies from Tohoku University in Japan.  A mother of a two-year old, Cui Laoshi (Laoshi is the Chinese title for teachers) is a scholar-practitioner with several years teaching experience who is a natural with young children.  She enthusiastically combines her background as a mom, teacher, and linguistics scholar to design engaging and distinctive, play-based activities for the toddlers and pre-schoolers at Morningside PlayCare. Dr. Cui is particularly interested in identifying best practices in the teaching of Mandarin to young children that can contribute to the fields of early childhood Mandarin education and linguistics.

Rocio Arias, OCFS

Child Care Manager and Lead Spanish Teacher

Rocio Arias has over ten years experience in private group home child care, day care, and in serving as a Nanny.  She has also served as a New York City licensed Childcare Provider.  Arias Laoshi is a native Spanish speaker and New Yorker with roots in the Dominican Republic.  She has OCFS certifications in the areas of Infant and Toddler health, safety, early childhood social/emotional and cognitive development, and infant/toddler first aid. She is working toward her Bachelor's degree in early childhood bilingual education at the City University of New York. Arias Laoshi's love of young children and gentle teaching style cause her to excel at teaching both children and interns.

宋诗琴 Shiqin Song, MA 

After School Mandarin Teacher and Curriculum Developer 

Shiqin Song is an educator-mom with over ten years experience teaching young children, developing curriculum, and training teachers.  A lover of languages, she is a native Mandarin speaker from China who is also fluent in French. Song Laoshi is a progressive early childhood educator specializing in early childhood bilingual education. She has planned  and developed curriculum for New York’s China Institute and also has experience as a third grade teacher in Montreal. Song Laoshi has a Master of Arts in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of other Languages from Shandong University in China, and a BA in Technical English from Hubel University of Technology in China, 


Gail Foster, Ed.D.

Chief Education Officer

Dr, Gail Foster has a 20 year history as an educational entrepreneur developing frontier programs in her field.  A graduate of Columbia University's Teachers College, her experience includes consulting and leadership service  to school start-up  entrepreneurs, service as a high school administrator, and contributing to the field as a published research scholar. As a research scholar at the RAND Corporation, the Institute for Independent Education, the NYC Department of Education, CUNY, and the Toussaint Institute, she has published on the power of inquiry-based learning, inner city private schools, private school start-ups, small public schools, African American boys with special education labels, and community-based and women led educational enterprises, called historically black independent schools. She is the winner of numerous civic awards and a gubernatorial citation, as well as an invitation to the White House for developing programs that are responsive to parents, place children at the center, and serve as leading edge models for education practitioners and policymakers. In her past incarnation, Dr. Foster founded the Association of Historically Black Independent Schools.

Sheree Palmer, MA

Business Consultant and Advisory

Committee Chair

Sheree Palmer is another mom-educator-entrepreneur.  After receiving her Master's degree in Gifted Education from Hunter College, she went on to found two successful independent schools: Cambria Center for the Gifted (CCGC) in 1980, and Cambria School of Excellence in 2009. CCGC, which she began in her home while raising her young children, became so popular with parents and educators for its child-centered, music-rich, and nurturing curriculum, that today her schools serve more than 300 Queens and Long Island children from nursery through eighth grade. Like Morningside PlayCare, Ms. Palmer's schools began with a Teacher/Mom who had a vision for her child. It grew in response to a greater community need. Her understanding of the importance of curriculum that adapts in response to a changing world has always kept the two Cambria Heights schools on the leading edge of the education field. 

Claudia L. Stedge, LMSW,



Government Contracts and Developmental Needs Consultant

With over 20 years experience managing organizations to address needs in early childhood development, Claudia Stedge is co-owner and primary operator of Partnership For Education.  She serves as the principle conductor of the philosophy and business practices that guide her start-up's successful and acclaimed programs. This mom-educator-entrepreneur has a Master’s Degree from Columbia University in Social Work, and a Master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education. She is a licensed Social Worker and has permanent New York State certifications in Special Education, School Social Work, School Administration/Supervision and Teaching of Nursery/Kindergarten, and first through sixth grade. 

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Third Year

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Make Your Child Multi-Lingual.

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