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What is an academic preschool?

The main features and benefits of academic preschools

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Preschool is an appealing option for many families. Many parents decide to send their child to a preschool. Preschools tend to offer plenty of structured activities and opportunities for early learning.

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Academic preschools and daycares

Academic preschools and daycares are the most structured of the different types of preschool programs. They focus on school readiness skills. And they aim to prepare kids for elementary school.

Academic preschools resemble traditional schools in many ways. The learning environment is mostly teacher-led. Teachers provide lectures or lessons to the class, and lead kids through the curriculum. While kids may have some playtime, the experience is quite structured, especially compared to play-based preschools (sometimes called "play schools").

In an academic preschool, the teacher develops lessons around concepts, such as letters, numbers, shapes, colours, and more. Typically they also provide some formal instruction in math, reading, and writing, among other subjects.

An example of an academic preschool is Montessori. While Montessori preschools don’t have a set curriculum that applies to each child, they focus far more on task-oriented work than imaginative-oriented play. 

Benefits of academic preschools

  • Young children like to learn. Focused work is often an effective way to promote early learning
  • These programs can be stimulating and challenging. They can be ideal for young kids who excel verbally, creatively, and cognitively.
  • They help kids prepare for the school years. They also teach other important skills, including social, emotional, and behavioural skills.
  • They can help foster positive attitudes towards authority
  • They can promote self-control and discipline.
  • They can encourage responsibility.

To learn the differences between academic-based and play-based preschools, read our comparison guide. You can also read articles comparing different preschool approaches: Montessori to Waldorf, Montessori to Reggio Emilia, Waldorf to Reggio Emilia, Montessori to academic, and Montessori to play-based preschools. If you want to compare specific schools one-to-one, visit our compare hub.

Preschool questions (read our in-depth answers)

Answers to the question “What is an academic preschool?” from school officials

“We have an academic-based, hands-on approach to learning. I have found children coming from a play-based preschool are not on the same level as the academic-based preschools. Some children have a hard time adjusting and catching up. Having said that, we have roughly two hours a day of free play. Children need time to socialize with friends, be creative, explore, and imagine.” Marcel Pereira, director of Century Private School, a Montessori school in Richmond Hill, Ontario

“We combine academic and play-based learning. This way children can learn and explore the environment through play, as well as receive direct instruction in various subjects. This ensures they are gaining the skills they need at their level of readiness, as well as preparing them to move to the next level in their academic career.” Vanessa Sjerven, teacher at Elmwood School (the early years program), in Ottawa, Ontario

“Academic programs such as Montessori place a great deal of emphasis on order and organization. The children themselves are responsible for helping to ensure that the classroom remains tidy and ready to use. Each day at an academic school focuses on reality-based experiences in order to learn reality-based concepts, rather than encouraging children to spend their days engaged in imaginative play.”  Nadia Bayrami, director of York Montessori School, a Montessori school, in Richmond Hill, Ontario

 

 

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List of What is an academic preschool?

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    School NameTypePaceCost

    TFS - Canada's International School (est. 1962)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • NS to 12 Coed
    • Day school (1230 students)
    TFS - Canada's International School offers Canada's only bilingual IB programs from PK to Grade 12. Average class size is 12 to 22 students. Entrance Scholarship to Grade 7 is available. [View profile]
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    Accelerated$17,600 to $31,100Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day17600

    Kendellhurst Academy (est. 2004)  

    • Mississauga, Ontario
    • PS to 8 Coed
    • Day school (260 students)
    Kendellhurst Academy Private School is located in Streetsville, Mississauga for students preschool to grade 8. We offer daily French language, weekly martial arts/tai chi and yoga classes, an organic menu and much more! [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Standard-enriched$11,500 to $15,540Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day11500

    La Citadelle International Academy of Arts and Science (est. 2000)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • NS to 12 Coed
    • Day school (200 students)
    La Citadelle's Excellence in Bilingual Education and academically advanced curriculum develop successful global citizens through IB & AP programs and a holistic approach where students achieve their highest potential. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    • International Baccalaureate
    Accelerated$16,750 to $20,750Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day16750

    The Maples Academy (est. 1989)  

    • Amaranth, Ontario
    • PS to 8 Coed
    • Day school (100 students)
    The Maples is a private IB school in Orangeville, ON from PS to grade 8. Tuition starts at $8500. The Maples offer daily French instruction starting in PS. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Standard-enriched$8,700 to $10,400Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day8700

    Hawthorn School (est. 1989)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • NS to 12 Coed/Girls
    • Day school
    Hawthorn School is an all-girls school in Toronto that offers programs from toddler to grade 12. Our unique mentoring program is tailored to each girl to help them reach their full potential. [View profile]
    • Liberal Arts
    Accelerated$10,000 to $31,400Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Girls Coed Day Homestay10000

    Elmwood School (est. 1915)  

    • Ottawa, Ontario
    • PS to 12 Girls
    • Day school (370 students)
    Elmwood School is Ottawa's pre-eminent school for girls from JK to Grade 12. Our high academic standards, small class sizes and safe, supportive environment ensure that each girl is inspired to reach her full potential. [View profile]
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    Standard-enriched$12,960 to $24,350Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Girls Day12960

    Children's Garden Nursery School (est. 1986)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • NS to SK Coed
    • Day school (110 students)
    Children's Garden Nursery School located on the corner of Bayview Ave and Broadway Ave, provides high quality programming for toddler, preschool and kindergarten students. [View profile]
      Student-paced$4,800 to $16,000Preschool Kindergarten Coed Day4800

      Lynn-Rose Heights Private School (est. 1997)  

      • Mississauga, Ontario
      • NS to 12 Coed
      • Day school (300 students)
      Lynn-Rose Heights Private School offers challenging academic programming from three years old to grade twelve in Mississauga. Lynn-Rose Heights school is an official International Baccalaureate World School. [View profile]
      • Progressive
      • International Baccalaureate
      Accelerated$14,370Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day14370

      Kidz Kare Inc. (est. 2010)  

      • Toronto, Ontario
      • NS to K Coed
      • Day school
      Kidz Kare offers a wide range of services that help with all parents' needs. Our flexibility in childcare services is what sets us apart from all other schools. [View profile]
        Standard-enriched$240 to $750Preschool Kindergarten Coed Day9999999999

        Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS) (est. 1969)  

        • Brampton, Ontario
        • PS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (400 students)
        Rowntree Montessori Schools is a montessori school that offers programs from Pre-kindergarten to Grade 8 in Brampton. [View profile]
        • Progressive
        • Montessori
        Standard-enriched$4,300/program to $11,700Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day4300

        Fern Hill School - Oakville (est. 1982)  

        • Oakville, Ontario
        • PS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (400 students)
        Fern Hill School Oakville is a private independent school offering individualized learning in Preschool to Grade 8. Our school is regarded as one of the pre-eminent elementary schools in Canada. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Accelerated$18,952 to $21,325Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day9999999999

        Académie de la Capitale (est. 1998)  

        • Ottawa, Ontario
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school
        Académie de la Capitale, an IB World School in Ottawa, offers programmes in both English and French, from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12. Students thrive in a culture of academic excellence and real-life learning. [View profile]
        • Progressive
        • International Baccalaureate
        Student-paced$9,340 to $17,240Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day9340

        German International School Toronto (est. 1999)  

        • Toronto, Ontario
        • PS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (70 students)
        German International School in Toronto offers programs from PK to grade 8. It provides a German curriculum enriched with Canadian content. [View profile]
        • Liberal Arts
        Standard-enriched$8,755 to $17,000Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day9999999999

        Primary Prep Academy (est. 2014)  

        • Mississauga, Ontario
        • NS to 3 Coed
        • Day school
        Primary Prep Academy offers programs from Pre-school to Grade 3 in Mississauga. Before and After school program included in tuition. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        • International Baccalaureate
        Standard-enriched$6,950Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Coed Day6950

        TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) (est. 1962)  

        • Mississauga, Ontario
        • PS to 7 Coed
        • Day school (165 students)
        TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) offers programs from pre-kindergarten to grade seven. Its average class size is 12 to 22 students. [View profile]
        • Progressive
        • International Baccalaureate
        Accelerated$11,900 to $26,150Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day11900

        High Park Oxford Learning Academy (est. 2013)  

        • Toronto, Ontario
        • PS to 3 Coed
        • Day school (15 students)
        Oxford Learning Academy offers an enriched academic program complemented by a personalized school experience. We grow lifelong learners by focusing on early primary education. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Student-paced$9,500 to $15,000Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Coed Day9500

        Lycée Louis Pasteur (est. 1966)  

        • Calgary, Alberta
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school (400 students)
        Lycée Louis Pasteur is the only school in Calgary to teach the French Ministry of Education and Alberta Education curricula. Three years old to Grade 12. All linguistic backgrounds welcome. [View profile]
        • Liberal Arts
        Student-paced$12,200 to $14,300Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day Homestay12200

        Cousteau, The French International School of Vancouver (est. 1997)  

        • North Vancouver, British Columbia
        • PS to 9 Coed
        • Day school (182 students)
        Cousteau school is a unique French language school in BC, #1 in the last Fraser Institute ranking. We provide academic excellence from Preschool to Grade 9. Class sizes can be as small as 13 students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Standard-enriched$10,700 to $13,700Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day10700

        Kanata Academy (est. 1996)  

        • Ottawa, Ontario
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school (105 students)
        Kanata Academy Private School offers Preschool, JK/SK to Grade 12. The average class size is 10 students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Standard-enriched$13,800 to $14,200Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day9999999999

        Meadow Green Academy (est. 1995)  

        • Mississauga, Ontario
        • PS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (150 students)
        Meadow Green Academy offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Mississauga. Its average class size is 12 students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        • Montessori
        Accelerated$14,990Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day14990

        Oxford Learning Academy (Private School) (est. 1984)  

        • Milton, Ontario
        • PS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (65 students)
        Oxford Learning Academy – where your child will experience a homeschooling approach with the benefits of socialization in a small classroom environment. This Milton private school runs from PK to grade 8. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Standard-enriched$12,000 to $12,850Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day9999999999

        Oakville Christian School (OCS) (est. 1982)  

        • Oakville, Ontario
        • PS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (250 students)
        Oakville Christian School offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Oakville. Its average class size is 22 students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Standard-enriched$13,079Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day13079

        Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School (est. 2005)  

        • Kelowna, British Columbia
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school (630 students)
        Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School in Kelowna, British Columbia offers programmes for grades Preschool to Grade 12 with enrollment of 560 day students and class sizes that range from 16-22 students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Standard-enriched$4,500 to $21,000Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day Homestay4500

        Sidney Ledson Institute (est. 1982)  

        • Toronto, Ontario
        • PS to 6 Coed
        • Day school
        The PK – Grade 6 program is a visible expression of the philosophy embodied in Ledson's books, Raising Brighter Children and Teach Your Child to Read in Just 10 Minutes a Day. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Accelerated$5,800 to $10,070Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Coed Day9999999999

        King Heights Academy (est. 2004)  

        • Woodbridge, Ontario
        • NS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (150 students)
        Located in Vaughan, King Heights Academy provides a unique educational experience for toddlers to grade eight, which includes the IB Program. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        • International Baccalaureate
        Standard-enriched$12,598 to $12,998Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day12598

        Glenburnie School (est. 1985)  

        • Oakville, Ontario
        • PS to 8 Coed
        • Day school
        Glenburnie School, Oakville, offers enriched, child-centred, responsive, academic programs from Pre-K through Grade 8. Class sizes range from 8 to 18 students depending on grade level. [View profile]
        • Progressive
        Student-paced$8,950 to $17,800Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day8950

        Prestige School - Richmond Hill Campus (est. 2003)  

        • Richmond Hill, Ontario
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school
        The Prestige School offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Richmond Hill. Its average class size is ten students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Accelerated$9,850 to $15,000Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day9850

        Kohai Educational Centre (est. 1976)  

        • Toronto, Ontario
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school (35 students)
        Kohai Educational Centre is a school for students with special needs and learning challenges offering programs for students aged 4 years to adulthood. Its average class size is two to six students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Student-paced$33,338Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day33338

        CGS (Children's Garden School) (est. 1986)  

        • Toronto, Ontario
        • PS to 3 Coed
        • Day school (100 students)
        CGS (Children's Garden School) offers co-ed, Preschool-Grade 3 programming. Small class sizes. Exceptional phonics program. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Accelerated$9,250 to $20,750Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Coed Day9250

        Wesley Christian Academy (est. 1988)  

        • Markham, Ontario
        • NS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (350 students)
        Wesley Christian Academy offers programs from Toddler to Grade 8 in Markham. As we are a Christian school, we share our beliefs with all our students but we warmly welcome families from ALL faiths and backgrounds! [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Accelerated$9,880 to $12,200Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day9880

        St. Clement's Early Learning School (est. 1955)  

        • Toronto, Ontario
        • NS to 2 Coed/Boys
        • Day school (150 students)
        St. Clement's Early Learning School 70 St. Clements Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4R 1H2 St. Clement’s Early Learning School provides a child with an opportunity for growth in all areas of his or her development. [View profile]
        • Progressive
        Student-paced$8,500 to $20,500Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Boys Coed Day8500

        Prestige School - Toronto Campus (est. 2003)  

        • Toronto, Ontario
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school (210 students)
        Prestige School offers programs from junior kindergarten to grade 12 in Toronto. Its average class size is 10 to 18 students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Accelerated$9,850 to $15,000Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day9999999999

        Philopateer Christian College (est. 1999)  

        • Mississauga, Ontario
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school (350 students)
        Philopateer Christian College offers programs from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 in Mississauga. Its average class size is 12 to 18 students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Standard-enriched$7,000 to $100,000Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day9999999999

        Académie St-Laurent Academy (est. 2007)  

        • Ottawa, Ontario
        • NS to 12 Coed/Coed
        • Day school (200 students)
        St-Laurent Academy is a private school that offers programs from nursery to high school in Ottawa. Its average class size is ten to 15 students. [View profile]
        • Progressive
        Standard-enriched$13,000 to $17,000Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day13000

        Académie Marie-Claire   

        • Kirkland, Quebec
        • PS to 6 Coed
        • Day school (390 students)
        This traditional and alternative private school in Kirkland, Quebec offers programs for grades PK to 6 with full English & French bilingual. The average class size is about 18 to 20. [View profile]
        • Liberal Arts
        Standard-enriched$11,850 to $12,528Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Coed Day9999999999

        Academie Providence (est. 2002)  

        • Ottawa, Ontario
        • NS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (200 students)
        Providence Academy is the only Private French Catholic School offering a trilingual program of study in Ontario with classes from nursery to grade eight. Tuition starts at $8,050 [View profile]
        • Progressive
        Standard-enriched$8,300 to $9,800Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day8300

        Little Owl Preschool Elementary (est. 2001)  

        • Toronto, Ontario
        • PS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (65 students)
        Little Owl Preschool Elementary develops motivated, confident, and happy problem-solving individuals. We invite your child to become a Little Owl! [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Standard-enriched$15,850Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day15850

        Fern Hill School - Burlington (est. 1982)  

        • Burlington, Ontario
        • PS to 8 Coed
        • Day school (180 students)
        Fern Hill School welcomes students from Preschool to Grade 8 and focuses on developing intellectual curiosity, creativity and confidence. Our maximum class size is 19 students. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Student-paced$19,332 to $22,028Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Coed Day9999999999

        Hillfield Strathallan College (est. 1901)  

        • Hamilton, Ontario
        • NS to 12 Coed
        • Day school (1110 students)
        Established in 1901, Hillfield Strathallan College is one of Canada’s leading co-educational independent schools, offering programs to students 18 months through Grade 12 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. [View profile]
        • Traditional
        Standard-enriched$6,902 to $43,394Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day Homestay9999999999

        River Valley School (est. 1983)  

        • Calgary, Alberta
        • PS to 6 Coed
        • Day school (325 students)
        RVS offers programs for the Early Learning & Elementary years in Progressive, Montessori & Arrowsmith environments. Specialists teach fine arts, physical education and French language. [View profile]
        • Progressive
        • Montessori
        Standard-enriched$7,400 to $13,100Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Coed Day7400

        MacLachlan College (est. 1978)  

        • Oakville, Ontario
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school (350 students)
        MacLachlan is a world-class school offering the benefits of small class sizes, highly dedicated and engaged teachers and an internationally recognized curriculum for students in Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12. [View profile]
        • Progressive
        • International Baccalaureate
        Standard-enriched$9,100 to $27,500Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Day Homestay9100

        North Broward Preparatory School (est. 1957)  

        • Coconut Creek, Florida
        • PS to 12 Coed
        • Day school (900 students)
        • Boarding school (330 students)
        North Broward Preparatory School is a K-12 co-educational day and boarding school located in S. Florida located minutes from the beach with IB, AP, and LD classes set on 80 acres with year round hockey. [View profile]
        • Liberal Arts
        • International Baccalaureate
        Accelerated$24,200 to $58,000 USDPreschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Coed Boarding Day24200

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