Rachel Duda VIVVI Midtown West

When you’re a young child, learning is everywhere — especially when you live in the big city. Whether adults realize it or not, children are constantly seeing everything anew, and making sense of their space by recognizing shapes and patterns, numbers and words, and more.

“Learning throughout the day is all about clueing your child into the things that grown-ups already know,” says Rachel Duda, VP of Learning at the child care and early learning provider Vivvi, which just opened a new space in Midtown West, at Silver Towers on W42nd Street. 

“We count the steps they take to cross the street so they can familiarize themselves with numbers. We help them recognize the walk or stop sign so they will know when to cross the street. All of this is to help your child develop an understanding of what’s going on around them.”

That’s especially true in Midtown Manhattan, Duda says, which is filled with so many stimulating things to see, hear and do. A quick walking trip around Hell’s Kitchen offers so much learning, as long as you know what to look for.

As one of the leaders in early education in NYC, we asked Vivvi to come up with some ways that parents can infuse early learning into their day as they explore the neighborhood.

Vivvi Silver Towers

1. Look and learn. Midtown West is filled with skyscrapers, many of which extend high into the sky! Plant yourself on a park bench (the ones next to the new Vivvi location in Silver Towers are a great place to start) and take a look around. 

  • Count how many buildings you can see in front of you or behind you, then how many windows each building has.
  • Talk about the basic shapes you see: “That door is a rectangle. That window is a square.”
  • Name the colors you see in front of you. Is everything gray? Are there other colors your child can observe?
Vivvi Transportation

2. Time to move. Young children are often infatuated with transportation — from fire trucks to garbage trucks to police cars and more — but even buses, cars, bikes and boats will get them excited, and you can find all of them within just a few blocks in Hell’s Kitchen. Watch them move, then ask your child questions: How many people can that bus carry? What about that bike? Are people riding on the inside or outside? Which goes fast and which goes slow? 

Vivvi Water

3. Make a splash. Manhattan is an island, and yet, most of its inhabitants rarely explore the coastline. Cross over the West Side Highway and get up close and personal with one of Midtown West’s best features: the Hudson River. Show your child the way the waves lap at the shore; listen to the noise they make and notice the splashes they leave behind. If you have extra time, hop on a ferry and make it a sensory learning experience! Follow up your adventure with a little water play at home and talk about what you saw earlier that day.

VIVVI food

4. Mmm, food! We’re lucky to have some of the most delicious food at our fingertips here in the neighborhood. And eating with your child is one of the best ways to help them learn — whether you’re at a restaurant, food truck or even enjoying a picnic in the park! From letting them feed themselves (fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination) to experimenting with new flavors, spices and textures, to counting how many people are eating, or how many forks, spoons and knives you can see, the learning opportunities are boundless.

VIVVI Tom Otterness

5. Play around. Hell’s Kitchen is filled with great playgrounds, and each provides an important learning opportunity for your little one. Gross motor skills are often hidden in places you’d least expect to find them on the playground: climbing teaches them to use bilateral coordination (using both sides of your body at once); balancing on a curb strengthens their core; hanging from monkey bars strengthens their grip. Our favorites are the Tom Otterness Playground on W42nd Street (right outside Vivvi’s doors!), as well as the Ramon Aponte Playground just a few short blocks away.

Vivvi provides exceptional early education for children ages 0-5, with rolling admissions and full day schedules. Join an open house to learn more about our Midtown West campus, located in Silver Towers. Find out more…

Join the Conversation


  1. Great bio for a great person and an amazing bakery. A friend from London always makes a beeping to Sullivan Street Bakery for the focaccia and the great telecommute atmosphere!

  2. Vivvi sounds like a place I would have chosen to work at back in the days when I was an Early Childhood Educator. The first advice, though, that I would give parents/caregivers of young children, is to PUT YOUR DEVICE AWAY, make eye contact with the child, and engage in conversation with them. I cringe seeing so many adults who don’t even hear the little ones in their care who are asking questions or talking to them.
    Very good piece on Vivvi!

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