Choosing the right daycare for your child is one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever have to make. It’s a decision that requires a lot of research and legwork. You wouldn’t just enrol your child in any old kindergarten and hope for the best, would you? No. You’d want to make sure that the facility is licensed, clean, and safe, with qualified staff working throughout. Over the past 15 years or so, as Toronto’s population of young families has increased, daycares have become an essential service. They’ve popped up everywhere to keep up with demand. Not all of these daycares are licensed, though, and not all of them have certified staff, so you’ll want to be extra careful if you’re trying to narrow your search down to the most suitable establishment for your child.
Kindergarten by woodleywonderworks
- Here are few very important things to keep in mind while compiling your research.
- Ensure that the daycare centre is licensed by Ontario’s Ministry of Education if more than six unrelated children under the age of ten receive care at that particular establishment.
- Ensure that all daycare staff have valid cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.
- Ensure that the daycare environment is safe from all hazards and kept clean and tidy throughout.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind while you’re conducting your search is to trust your gut instincts! If you decide to drop in unannounced to one of the potential daycares you have on your list and things don’t seem right (if you see broken toys and supplies, dirty surfaces, and inattentive staff), then you’re totally justified in thinking this may not be the correct kindergarten for you or your child. Often, first impressions and gut instincts are right, and you shouldn’t cast them aside as uneducated guesses. While you’re at the facility checking things out, it’s a good idea to find out the following information.
- Ask, “How long has each staff member worked at that particular location, and is the staff turnover rate?”
- Pay close attention to how each infant and child is treated.
- Take note of how each age group is separated or if they’re separated at all.
- Take stock of the toys and supplies offered to make sure that each one is age-appropriate (remember that toys with small pieces present a dangerous choking hazard to babies, toddlers, and children).
We’ve done most of the heavy legwork for you and have compiled our own list of what we feel are the five best daycares in the City of Toronto! Here are our choices, listed in order of preference.
Kindergarten by hocolibrary
(4 Toronto locations)
If you’re after a truly unique daycare experience for your child, look no further than Le Petit Chaperon Rouge. It’s one of Toronto’s only French Immersion nursery centres, and it prides itself on its early education in French language for young children. The nursery recommends that at least one parent speak French at home so that the day’s activities and lessons can continue to flourish outside of nursery hours.
InfantRoom in Le Petit Chaperon Rouge
Sabrina is a mother who has both of her children enrolled at Le Petit Chaperon Rouge and who majored in French at university.
She says, “No matter how often you may try to teach your child a second language at home, it pays to have them study it at school every day too. Canada’s second official language is French, and I think it’s important for my children to be able to communicate in both English and French — especially when they grow up and are ready to enter the workforce! It’ll be that much easier for them to find a job.”
Detailed learning programs and schedules are posted at each facility at the start of every week for parents to review should they want to keep abreast of what their children are learning. Depending on which location you choose to enrol your child in, you will find a suitable ratio of teachers to children. There can be anywhere between six and sixty children per class and upwards of ten full-time staff members per location. Yearly events include a graduation ceremony for preschoolers, a talent show, and various seasonal activities scheduled throughout the school year. In terms of pricing, you’re looking at $1,600 per month for infants, $1,200 per month for toddlers, and $915 per month for preschoolers.
ToddlerRoom in Le Petit Chaperon Rouge
(146 Crescent Road)
Mooredale House is one of the city’s most prestigious and storied community centres, and it’s no surprise that its thriving daycare program landed on our list of Toronto’s best. Before you can go ahead and enrol your child in the nursery program, you must register to become a member of Mooredale House first. It’s best to get this paperwork out of the way as quickly as possible so that you can get started on reserving a spot for your child on the facility’s daycare waiting list. Upon checking the website recently, we learned that there is a limited number of spots still available for the 2013–2014 season!
Mooredale Preschool provides high-quality educational programs for children between the ages of 18 months and five years. Its 17 full-time staff members attend regular special needs–focused training courses throughout the year, so if your child has special needs, you needn’t worry that he or she won’t be included in the curriculum.
Mooredale’s specialized educational program includes classes in art, music, and French, as well as the more standard movement classes and an innovative motor skills workshop. Field trips to some of Toronto’s best museums and galleries are mainstays in the school’s curriculum, as well as trips to farms and apple orchards. A detailed breakdown of Mooredale Preschool’s yearly fees can be requested by phone or email, but here they are, broken down for you by group: full-time toddlers cost $4,680 per year, the full-time nursery program is $5,830 per year, and full-time kindergarteners cost $12,150 per year.
(905 King Street West, Suite 101)
This trendy kindergarten is located in the heart of Toronto’s King West Village, a thriving community of young families and quaint little shops and businesses that line the streets. Downtown Kids Academy is a fairly new learning facility that offers full-time daycare programs for both toddlers and preschoolers and boasts smaller groups of no more than 44 students each to ensure that every child forms a special, trusting bond with his or her teacher. There are currently four full-time staff members along with another five that remain on call at all times.
Jump by Darrel Birkett
A great balanced blend of learning and play is encouraged here, along with many opportunities during the day for the children to venture outside and gather information on nature, their neighbourhood, and the people they share the area with. All meals at the daycare are catered by It’s Lunch Time, which offers a wide selection of culturally rich dishes including Asian, Jamaican, and Italian meals.
The fee for full-time toddlers is $1,250 per month, and the fee for preschoolers is $1,000 per month. Because this learning facility is still rather new, its waiting list isn’t as long as some of the other more established nurseries in the city. If you act quickly, you may still be able to enrol your child in the current season’s program.
(8 Toronto locations)
This is one of the only daycare centres in the city that boasts other locations throughout North America. Over the years, it has gained for itself a solid reputation in regards to how well children are taken care of and taught in its many daycare facilities throughout Canada and the United States. In order to enrol your child at one of the Kids & Company Ltd. locations, you must first be employed at a company that is partnered or affiliated with the nursery. Enrolment and acceptance into one of the company’s daycares is pretty much guaranteed if you meet that stipulation.
SchoolRoom in The KidsCompany
The maximum capacity per class or group is set at 60 to 100 kids at each location, with upwards of 30 staff members who supervise and teach the children. If you are one of those parents who worries about their child’s well-being and safety, you needn’t be concerned. Each nursery is equipped with live webcams that any parent can check throughout the day (just visit the Kids & Company Ltd website and log on to their webcam feature page using your unique username and password).
“I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is knowing that I’m able to check up on my son at any time of the day using the school’s webcam! For someone like me who tends to worry a lot, it’s a godsend,” admits Louise, who enrolled her son last year in the toddler program.
All meals are prepared onsite based on Health Canada’s Food Guide to ensure that all children receive and benefit from their recommended daily nutritional servings. The monthly fees for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers vary depending on which location you select. The centre advises all parents to check the Kids & Company Ltd website for price listings, group breakdowns, and upcoming schedules and events.
Playground in The KidsCompany
(460 Manning Avenue)
This daycare thrives on arts programs and skills training for both toddlers and preschoolers. The waiting list is a long one — up to one year — so it is recommended that parents register their child for enrolment as soon as they learn they are pregnant. There are 18 full-time staff members on the premises and an additional group of six part-time teachers who drop in throughout each day. Outdoor recess is held twice daily, but on days when the weather proves uncertain or uncooperative, the children are encouraged to complete indoor courses in circuit training and low-impact exercises to keep their young bodies healthy and active.
All meals are prepared onsite by the daycare’s two cooks, with special larger meals prepared on holidays and to complement each of the school’s special events. The nursery holds an annual winter music program, a talent show, and a lively graduation ceremony that is held at the end of every year’s school season (late June). These events are made possible through the ongoing fundraising efforts of both the staff and parents of each child.
“I am so pleased with the care my children have received at Centro-Clinton Day Care,” says a parent. “They are learning skills that promote their self-awareness and self-expression in a caring, loving environment.”
The fee for full-time toddlers is currently set at $1,119 per month, while fees for preschoolers and kindergarten-level children are set at $889 per month.
There you have it, our top picks of daycares in the city! If you know of any others that you’d like to recommend, please leave us a comment down below. With all of our choices, we recommend that you apply for enrolment as soon as possible to ensure that — no matter how long the wait list — you can rest easy knowing that your child will gain a spot as soon as he or she comes of age. If your child has special needs, it’s best to ask each facility you’re considering if they are able to handle special needs children (most daycares are, it’s just a matter of finding the right one for your child). Be advised that each nursery has its own policy regarding diapers and extra changes of clothing — ask ahead and find out if you’ll need to bring your own supplies or if the daycare is already equipped with them. Most importantly, trust your instincts and ensure that each facility that you are considering is fully licensed by Ontario’s Ministry of Education.