REVIEW OF Children's Garden Nursery School BY parent, Justice Johnston
- Date of Review
January 08, 2024
- Child 1
Preschool (Male, Current Day Student)
(4) Student Experience
From our first visit, our student has felt “at home” at Children’s Garden Nursery School. It is a welcoming and playful environment that introduces children to the formal school setting in a loving and supportive way. He is happy to be dropped off in the morning and all smiles at pick-up. In just a few short months, he has already gained a foundation for learning. Yes, he now knows his letters and days of the week - but more importantly, he knows that learning is fun and rewarding. He is proud to show off his new skills at home, from letter recognition to silly song lyrics. It is clear to me that all the staff highly prioritize the student experience far and above panhandling parents.
(5) School Leadership
If there is one “selling feature” of CGNS, it is the dedicated and caring staff and administration. It is the only preschool that we considered that truly displayed a love of children and learning. Teachers are kind and focused on iteration, not harsh correction, which fosters an engaging learning environment. We have been very happy with their handling of inevitable situations that arise, demonstrating both tact and compassion. Communication with parents has been clear and transparent, always including parents at various stages of decision-making and planning.
We have been very happy with the quality of instruction at the preschool level. Teachers are patient and focused, working 1:1 with each student for small intervals of time to, over time, build skills and confidence. It is clear that learning is teacher cultivated but child-led (which is especially valuable for high energy little ones!). Teachers take pride in going the extra mile, developing out themes and additional worksheets above and beyond the call of duty. They also go out of their way to follow students’ interests—dedicating meaningful amounts of time to explore specific topics raised by their students (volcanoes, always!). Teachers communicate students’ strengths and weaknesses to the parents in an objective and supportive tone; it is clear that there is no comparison or judgment.
The curriculum, at the preschool level, is exactly as expected, with a focus on the alphabet, colours, numbers, shapes, and penmanship. These lessons are repeated often throughout the year for improved retention and understanding. It is clear that our student is building a strong foundation of learning that will allow him to excel through kindergarten and beyond. More importantly, to us, the curriculum centres around themes of kindness, friendship, giving, and responsibility. Students are asked to share about their friends and family often. Students learn about and share their emotions. Students are engaged as classroom leaders through the “teacher’s helper” initiative (which has been a highlight for our son). As a result, CGNS fosters a great sense of community and inclusion within the classroom and beyond.
CGNS offers drama, dance, music, and sports as regular co-curriculars. These are, no doubt, a highlight for many students, including ours (the drama and music programs are particularly notable for us). Moreover, it is clear that CGNS is highly selective in the running of these co-curriculars, seeking highly engaged and fun-first instructors. The co-curriculars help with the flow of the school day and school week, allowing students something unique to look forward to each day.
Aside from the outstanding staff and administration, the students are the next best thing about CGNS. These are curious and kind students that feel safe and encouraged to be themselves in this environment. The student body is small but mighty. Students get along well and look forward to seeing each other every day. Our student actively looks to see which of his friends will be teacher’s helper that day and loves to say goodbye to each of his classmates as they depart from the parking lot. Extra programming, like the Halloween party and holiday concert, further fosters this sense of community. But smaller touches, like having pictures by their hooks, are also very impactful for students too. It’s about as much as you can ask for a preschool experience.
(4) School Life
The quality of student life is very high if you prioritize a safe and loving environment for your preschool-age child. As a transition towards primary education, we couldn't be more thrilled. Our student loves to go to school each day and, as many know, that speaks volumes. He reflects positively on the day's activities and remembers specific details. We think that a big part of this enthusiasm is the school and classroom environment - it is bright and friendly everywhere you look! There are smiling faces all around the students. There are sufficient spaces for work and play (our student delights in the classroom helicopter and firetruck puzzle, not to mention the fun supplies for indoor recess... and markers!). Our student delights in all of the extra activities - from spirit weeks to a holiday toy drive.
There is somewhat limited opportunities for parental involvement in the life of the school, but we can confidently say that parents are welcome into the school at all times. Whether it is to speak with the administration or support a student, there is an open door sense of feeling. Parents are also made to feel involved through display boards that feature the students daily activities, festive events (e.g., Halloween party, holiday concert) and regular communication through an online portal. There is a small parent organization that puts a tremendous amount of work in to support the school's activities. Moreover, there is a nice feeling of community amongst parents as we convene around drop-offs and pick-ups. Our fellow parents are clearly engaged and supportive of the students' early development.
(4) School Location
It is clear that CGNS draws students primarily from its immediate surrounding neighbourhood, which deepens the sense of community. Parents and students regularly walk and bike into the school. We come from slightly further (via car) and also feel well-integrated. School activities remain entirely on school property, including outdoor recess. Students do not typically venture beyond the school grounds.