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Academic vs. play-based preschools

Comparing academic and play-based preschools and daycares

There are several different types of preschool programs. Some of these programs are quite academic, while others are more play-based. Yet others combine the two approaches. Read more


List of Academic and play-based preschools

 
FILTERS:
Type
Grades
 
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Buena Vista Road/Springfield Road
  • PS to 12 Girls
  • $13,960 to $26,960

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.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Elmwood School 13960 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
  • Kirkland, Quebec
    Boul Elkas/Rue Houde
  • PS to 11 Coed
  • $14,094 to $33,000

This academically re-known French & English bilingual serves students from Pre-Kg to High School. Class size averages 20 students; tuition ranges from $15,000 to $18,00 . Boarding is available.

  • Day
  • Liberal Arts
  • International Baccalaureate
Académie Marie-Claire 14094 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Oakville, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Girls
  • $18,000 to $28,430

Oakville's SMLS continues to be a premier independent school for girls Preschool to Graduating Year since 1891. "Millie" graduates take on the world with confidence and the knowledge that they can do anything.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School 18000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    St. Laurent Blvd./Montreal Rd.
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • $11,500 to $17,500

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.

  • Day
  • Progressive
Académie St-Laurent Academy 11500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Amaranth, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $9,154 to $10,965

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.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • International Baccalaureate

The Maples Academy 9154 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Oakville, Ontario
    QEW Highway/403 Highway
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $9,400 to $18,800

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.

  • Day
  • Liberal Arts
  • International Baccalaureate

Walden International School - Oakville 9400 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Leslie/York Mills
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • $12,500 to $26,800

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.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • International Baccalaureate
La Citadelle International Academy of Arts & Science 12500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Mississauga Road/Eglinton Avenue
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $12,000 to $16,000

Kendellhurst offers students an enriched curriculum with a mix of project based, traditional and arts infused curriculum, with digital displays, Macs and PC's in every room and Edwin personal devices for grades 5 to 8.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Kendellhurst Academy 12000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    York Mills/Leslie
  • NS to 12 Girls/Coed
  • $14,500 to $36,500

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.

  • Homestay/Day
  • Liberal Arts
Hawthorn School 14500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Day Girls Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $15,470 to $20,600

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.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Lynn-Rose Schools 15470 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Hamilton, Ontario
    Garth Street/Fennell Avenue West
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • $8,423 to $49,606

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.

  • Homestay/Day
  • Traditional
Hillfield Strathallan College 8423 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Highway 417/Greenbank
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $13,340 to $19,510

Acadecap International School a.k.a. Académie de la Capitale, an IB school, offers bilingual and/or English programmes from Pre-K to Grade 12. Students thrive in a culture of academic excellence and real-life learning.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate

Académie de la Capitale 13340 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    York/Maple Leaf Square
  • NS to K Coed
  • $250 to $760 /2 Weeks

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.

  • Day

Kidz Kare Inc. 250 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Cawthra/Lakeshore
  • PS to 7 Coed
  • $18,820 to $33,970

TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) offers programs from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 7. Its average class size is 12 to 22 students.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate

TFS - Canada's International School (West Campus) 18820 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Yonge St./Sheppard Ave.
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $11,250 to $15,500

Prestige School offers programs from junior kindergarten to grade 12 in Toronto. Its average class size is 10 to 18 students.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Prestige School - Toronto Campus 11250 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Brampton, Ontario
    Sunforest Drive/Bovaird Drive E
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $7,500 to $13,900

RMS is an award-winning progressive private school, and voted the BEST private school in Brampton. We offer a structured programme that is ahead of the Ministry set guidelines.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Montessori
Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS) 7500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bayview Ave/Broadway Ave
  • NS to SK Coed
  • $6,000 to $20,000

Located in the Leaside neighbourhood of Toronto, Children's Garden Nursery School is a well-established private school that offers exceptional programming including Core French and French Immersion.

  • Day
Children's Garden Nursery School 6000 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
  • Richmond Hill, Ontario
    Major MacKenzie Dr. W/Bathurst St.
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $10,000 to $15,500

The Prestige School offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Richmond Hill. Its average class size is ten students.

  • Day
  • Traditional

Prestige School - Richmond Hill Campus 10000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Don Mills Rd/York Mills Rd
  • PS to 6 Coed
  • $4,501 to $12,800

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.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Sidney Ledson Institute 4501 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Don Mill Rd/York Mills Rd
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $18,375 to $27,290

Bayview Glen is a traditional co-ed day school in Toronto, Ontario from Preschool (age 2) to Grade 12, a global member of Round Square and offers Advanced Placement programme. Tuition ranges from $17,000 to $26,500.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Bayview Glen 18375 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Calgary, Alberta
    Bowness Rd NW/Bow Crescent NW
  • PS to 6 Coed
  • $4,850 to $14,320

River Valley is an inclusive independent school in the heart of NW Calgary that provides exceptional education for 3-year-olds to grade 6 students.

  • Day
  • Progressive
River Valley School 4850 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Dundas Ave. West/High Park Ave.
  • PS to 1 Coed
  • $10,000 to $15,000

Oxford Learning Academy offers a bilingual academic program complemented by a personalized school experience. We grow lifelong learners by focusing on early primary education.

  • Day
  • Progressive

High Park Oxford Learning Academy 10000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Duplex Ave/St Clements Ave
  • PS to 2 Coed/Boys
  • $8,500 to $20,500

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.

  • Day
  • Progressive
St. Clement's Early Learning School 8500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Day Coed Boys
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • $800 to $1,400

  • Day
  • Traditional
Community Life Christian School 800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Calgary, Alberta
    Garrison Blvd SW/33 Ave SW
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $13,600 to $15,200

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. Small class sizes.

  • Day/Homestay
  • Traditional
Lycée Louis Pasteur 13600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Homestay Coed
  • North York, Ontario
    Dufferin/Lawrence
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $19,000 to $25,000

Magnificent Minds Inc. caters to learners whose needs are not being met in traditional school environments, pursuing academic excellence, and individual greatness.

  • Day
  • Traditional

Magnificent Minds 19000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Kirkland, Quebec
    Rue Edmond/Ch Ste-Marie
  • PS to 11 Coed
  • $5,121 to $15,603

Kuper Academy offers programs from pre-school to grade eleven in Kirkland. Its average class size is 22 students.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Kuper Academy 5121 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Dufferin/Eglinton
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $17,152 to $19,860

Lycée Français de Toronto is a French school that offers programs from nursery to grade 12. Its average class size is 17 students.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Lycée Français de Toronto 17152 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Dixie Road/South Service Road
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $13,990 to $17,990

Star Academy offers programs from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade Eight in Mississauga. Small class sizes, daily physical education and French for all grades, and academic excellence set us apart.

  • Day
  • Progressive
Star Academy 13990 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Yonge/Sheppard
  • PS to 9 Coed
  • $9,900 to $16,200

Little Owl Preschool, Elementary and Middle School develops motivated, confident, and happy problem-solving individuals. We invite your child to become a Little Owl student.

  • Day
  • Traditional

Little Owl Private School 9900 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $7,900 to $15,100

Calgary French & International School graduates will be active global citizens with a foundation for life-long success, and our school will be the leader in French immersion and international education.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
Calgary French & International School 7900 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $7,000 to $10,000

Philopateer Christian College offers programs from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 in Mississauga. Its average class size is 12 to 18 students.

  • Day
  • Traditional

Philopateer Christian College 7000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Montreal, Quebec
    Rue Notre-Dame Ouest/Rue de l'inspecteur
  • PS to 6 Coed
  • $10,820 to $11,535

The bilingual French and English curriculum of Ecole la Nouvelle Vague is based on the Ministry of Education accredited program.

  • Day
  • Traditional

École la Nouvelle Vague 10820 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Kelowna, British Columbia
    K.L.O. Road/Benvoulin Road.
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $4,750 to $6,550

Established in 1978, our passion is to provide families with transformative, excellent education that equips and inspires students to be disciples who are world changers that love and serve God and others.

  • Day
  • Progressive

Kelowna Christian School 4750 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Montverde, Florida
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • US $7,875 to US $51,350

Founded in 1912, Montverde Academy is an elite college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-K3 through post-graduate studies with a distinct student population from over 80 countries worldwide.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Traditional
Montverde Academy 7875 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
  • Duncan, British Columbia
    Brownsey Avenue/Government Street
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $4,800 to $49,300

Queen Margaret's School is an independent day/boarding university preparatory school in Duncan, BC.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Progressive
Queen Margaret's School 4800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Day Coed
  • Burlington, Ontario
    North Service Road/King Road
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $21,620 to $23,368

Fern Hill School provides a calm, engaging & academic program for Preschool to Grade 8. We offer a structured approach that focuses on developing intellectual curiosity, creativity & confidence. Maximum class size is 19.

  • Day
  • Traditional

Fern Hill School - Burlington 21620 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Etobicoke, Ontario
    Burnhamthorpe Road/Kipling Avenue
  • PS to 5 Coed
  • $4,300 to $10,800

Founded in 1893, Olivet School is a Christian private school in Etobicoke, offering PS-Gr5. Olivet School combines quality teaching with individual attention to help each child achieve their personal potential.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Olivet School 4300 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Markham, Ontario
    McCowan Road/Highway 7
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $10,375 to $13,300

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!

  • Day
  • Traditional
Wesley Christian Academy 10375 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bayview/Lawrence
  • NS to 12 Coed
  • $19,760 to $33,970

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.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
TFS - Canada's International School 19760 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Oakville, Ontario
    Trafalgar Road/Cornwall Road
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $12,000 to $30,800

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.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate
MacLachlan College 12000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Donald St/Frances St
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $9,000 to $10,300

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: $8,800-10,300. Extracurricular activities: $600-$650.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
Academie Providence 9000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Milton-Campbellville, Ontario
    Highway 401/Guelph Line
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $11,600 to $15,120

Hitherfield School offers programs from pre-school to grade 8. With an average class size of 14 students, we offer an excellent academic program along with a multitude of outdoor activities.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Hitherfield School 11600 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Markham, Ontario
    Woodbine Ave/Hooper Rd
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $11,390 to $19,670

Bussing from Toronto (Bayview and Sheppard) available. Early Learning Centre to Grade 12. Discipline. Character. Respect. Complete your child's academic and spiritual foundation. Discover why PCA students excel!

  • Day
  • Traditional
Peoples Christian Academy (PCA) 11390 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Yonge/Eglinton
  • NS to SK Coed
  • $9,500 to $17,595

e.p.i.c. is a leading progressive school specializing in early education for students in Pre-K, J.K. and S.K. Discover e.p.i.c. School!

  • Day
EPIC School 9500 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $8,800 to $15,490

Meadow Green Academy offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Mississauga. Its average class size is 12 students.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Montessori
Meadow Green Academy 8800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Leslie Street/York Mills Road
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $12,900 to $23,400

The Giles School is a French immersion private school in Toronto for children age 2 (Pre-K) to Grade 8. Open Admissions through Grade 1, small classes, and Mandarin introduced as a third language in Grade 1.

  • Day
  • Liberal Arts
The Giles School 12900 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Oakville, Ontario
    Lakeshore/Third Line
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $3,342 to $13,407

Oakville Christian School offers programs from pre-school to grade eight in Oakville. Its average class size is 22 students.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Oakville Christian School (OCS) 3342 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Dundas Street East/Parliament St.
  • NS to K Coed
  • $13,000 to $20,000

Children absorb multiple languages, music & develop sports skills VERY easily. Momentum Montessori is a multilingual school exposing kids (1.5 - 6 yrs) to multiple languages, sports & music like no other program.

  • Day

Momentum Montessori 13000 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
  • Etobicoke, Ontario
  • PS to 5 Coed
  • $12,000

For the past 36 years Kingsley Primary School offers programs from junior kindergarten to grade five in Etobicoke. Its average class size is eight to 12 students.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
Kingsley Primary School 12000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Woodbridge, Ontario
    Weston Road/Rutherford Road
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $15,598 to $18,998

Located in Vaughan, King Heights Academy provides a unique educational experience for toddlers to grade eight, which includes the IB Program.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • International Baccalaureate

King Heights Academy 15598 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Bayview/Eglinton
  • PS to 3 Coed
  • $10,200 to $22,500

CGS (Children's Garden School) offers co-ed, Preschool-Grade 3 programming. Small class sizes. Exceptional phonics program.

  • Day
  • Traditional
CGS (Children's Garden School) 10200 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Oakville, Ontario
    Eighth Line/Upper Middle Road E
  • NS to SK Coed
  • $4,899 to $14,999

Voted Oakville's Best Preschool, The Oakville Academy School for the Arts offers Preschool and Kindergarten classes in an arts-enriched learning environment.

  • Day

The Oakville Academy for the Arts 4899 Preschool Kindergarten Day Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
  • NS to 3 Coed
  • $7,000 to $12,000

Primary Prep Academy offers programs from Pre-school to Grade 3 in Mississauga. Before and After school program included in tuition.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Primary Prep Academy 7000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
  • Calgary, Alberta
    Crowchild Trail/Flanders Ave
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $8,000 to $10,000

Since 1979, Banbury's student-paced approach with tutorial instruction is in small, multi-aged groups of 10:1. Meainingful relationships enhance learning. Member of Canadian Coalition of Self Directed Learning--CCSDL.

  • Day
  • Progressive
Banbury Crossroads School 8000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • West Vancouver, British Columbia
    Upper Levels Highway/Cypress Bowl exit
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $19,980 to $24,820

Mulgrave School offers programmes from Preschool to Grade 12 in West Vancouver. Its average class size is 20 students with teacher to student ratios of 1:8.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • International Baccalaureate

Mulgrave School 19980 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Baie-D'Urfé, Montreal, Quebec
    rue Victoria/rue Normandy
  • PS to 12 Coed
  • $7,450 to $10,700

We offer a sound, internationally recognized academic foundation. Our students gain fluency in three languages and achieve mastery of biology, chemistry and physics.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Alexander von Humboldt German International School 7450 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
  • Vaughan, Ontario
    Pine Valley Dr./Rutherford Rd.
  • PS to 3 Coed
  • $1,500 to $12,000

The Nature School at Kortright provides an alternative form of education designed to provide experiential learning opportunities and promote curiosity to nurture the whole child.

  • Day
  • Progressive

The Nature School 1500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Day Coed
  • Milton, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $12,000 to $12,850

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.

  • Day
  • Traditional

Oxford Learning Academy (Private School) 12000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Oakville, Ontario
    Dundas Streeet/Ninth Line
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $21,620 to $23,368

Fern Hill School is a private independent school for Preschool through Grade 8 offering individualized learning by subject-specific teachers. Our school is regarded as one of the pre-eminent elementary schools in Canada.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Fern Hill School - Oakville 21620 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Rigaud, Quebec
    Rue Saint-Pierre/Rue Bourget
  • PS to 11 Coed
  • $4,700 to $35,000

Collège Bourget is a day & boarding school situated between Montreal & Ottawa, that exceeds Quebec curriculum guidelines & ensures our students grow through different spheres: arts, sports, community service & science.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Traditional

College Bourget 4700 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $9,050 to $17,700

German International School in Toronto offers programs from PK to grade 8. It provides a German curriculum enriched with Canadian content.

  • Day
  • Liberal Arts
German International School Toronto 9050 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Vaughan Street/Bertrand Street
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $3,250 to $14,950

Ottawa’s Fern Hill School offers Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary Grades, including extended French. Tuition starts at $2,950.

  • Day
  • Traditional
Fern Hill School - Ottawa 3250 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed

When looking for a preschool or daycare for your child, it’s important to think about which approach is the best fit. To learn more about this, read our choosing a preschool guide. To learn more about preschools in general, read our preschool education guide.

Click here to view a list of preschools

 

Academic preschools

Academic preschools and daycares focus on school readiness skills. They aim to prepare kids for the school years.

These preschools have a mostly teacher-led classroom. Teachers and staff guide kids through a tightly structured curriculum. They introduce kids to several subjects, including math, reading, writing, science, and nature.

Teachers sometimes give whole-class lectures or lessons in an academic preschool. Normally, though, these are shorter and more interactive than what you’ll find in the school years, especially at the upper levels.

While academic preschool provides quite a bit of formal instruction, it normally allows some unstructured time. This may include indoor free-play time or outdoor recess, where kids are free to choose what they want to do. It’s just that there will be less of this than in play-based preschools.

Play-based preschools

Play-based preschools and daycares are less structured. Kids are free to move around, choose their activities, and play with kids in class. They thus have plenty of free-play time. They also have lots of time for exploration, and open-ended and imaginative activities.

In a play-based preschool (also called "play schools"), kids tend to spend a lot of time interacting with other kids. They play games, explore the environment, and work on projects with their peers—one-on-one or in groups.

For most of the day, they can choose what they want to do. They can move between different areas or “stations” in the classroom, such as a kitchen, dressup, sensory, building, and arts and crafts area. These areas are changed often, such as every week or even every day. To learn more about the preschool classroom, click here.

Play-based preschools offer little formal instruction. Kids may, though, learn some basic math (such as numbers and addition) and language (such as letters and reading). Normally, though, this is done through short, interactive lessons and fun activities.

As Maureen Myers, executive director at Sprouts, a preschool in Toronto, Ontario, says "We don't sit down and teach by rote or repetition, but the ideas and concepts of letter recognition, language, math, and sciences are learned by very hands-on activities." 

The belief is that kids learn best through play. By interacting with their peers in different settings, they learn important social and emotional skills. They become more independent, mature, and capable. They also learn to reason, reflect (about themselves and others), and solve problems.

Academic vs. play-based preschool

Main similarities

Main differences

To learn more about the similarities and differences between various types of preschools, read our comparison guides. In separate articles, we compare Montessori to Waldorf, Montessori to Reggio Emilia, Waldorf to Reggio Emilia, Montessori to play-based, and Montessori to academic preschools. If you want to compare specific schools one-to-one, visit our compare hub. You can also read our guide to preschool questions.

 

Preschool questions (read our in-depth answers)

 

Answers to the question “What is the difference between academic and play-based preschools?” from school officials

“Academic preschools have teacher-led instruction and follow a curriculum. Whereas play-based preschools, it it often believed, allow the children to play freely, without guidance or instruction. However, this is not necessarily so. Many preschools combine play-based learning with direct instruction. This can spark curiosity and provide opportunities for students to engage directly with the environment and make sense of the world.” Vanessa Sjerven, teacher at Elmwood school (the early years program), in Ottawa, Ontario


“My point of view: children can play and learn in preschool. One does not preclude the other. Play is an integral part of learning the ‘academics.’ A school can be both academic and play-based without stressing the child with academics. Children should be encouraged to inquire, to question, and to play, to make sense of the world.” Nora Ibrahim, preschool teacher and IB PYP (Primary Years Program) coordinator at Académie de la Capitale, in Ottawa, Ontario

Series: Preschools

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