What is a play-based preschool?

The main features and benefits of play-based preschools

Find a list of schools

Most preschools aim to prepare your child for the school years, by teaching them social and academic skills. While preschools sometimes are sometimes similar to nursery schools, daycares, and even kindergartens, they often have a different approach than these other options. Read more


List of play-based preschools

 
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Banbury Crossroads School


Calgary, Alberta
Crowchild Trail/Flanders Ave
 
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"Choose to Succeed, at Banbury Crossroads School. We offer a truly unique learning experience, with self-directed, collaborative, tutorial-style classrooms that average 10:1 students per teacher.

  1. Exceptionally small class sizes averaging 10:1
  2. Learning to mastery
  3. Founded on mutual respect and communication
  4. Individualized instruction based on interest and pace

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $16,800 to $18,800
 
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Banbury Crossroads School 16800 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed

Upper Canada College


Toronto, Ontario
St Clair Ave W/Avenue Rd
 
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"At Upper Canada College tradition, excellence and innovation meet. UCC inspires boys to lead lives of leadership, service and impact through transformative learning experiences that develop head, heart and humanity.

  1. High-achieving, all-round students
  2. Challenging but rewarding IB program
  3. First rate academics, athletics and arts
  4. 19 different sports and 80+ clubs

—From the school

  • Gr. SK to 12 (Boys)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $40,750 to $81,100
 
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Upper Canada College 40750 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Boys

Havergal College


Toronto, Ontario
Lawrence Avenue West/Avenue Road
 
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"Havergal has been preparing young women to make a difference since 1894 through its innovative curriculum and future-ready programming with a focus on wellbeing and student agency.

  1. Beautiful 22-acre campus in the heart of Toronto.
  2. Innovative curriculum and future-ready programming for students.
  3. Small class sizes with a focus on wellness and student agency.
  4. Award-winning Art, Music and Drama departments.

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $41,520 to $79,905
 
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Havergal College 41520 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Girls

Montcrest School


Toronto, Ontario
Danforth Ave/Broadview Ave
 
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"Montcrest is a welcoming community that specializes in cultivating incredible young people. With small class sizes and unparalleled student-teacher relationships, Montcrest helps children become who they’re meant to be.

  1. Founded in 1961
  2. Small class sizes
  3. 21st century skills - inquiry, technology & critical thinking
  4. Inquiry-based learning

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $32,500 to $48,225
 
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Montcrest School 32500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed

St. John's-Kilmarnock School


Waterloo Region (Breslau), Ontario
 
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"SJK offers an enriched environment of exploration and experiential learning. Through its IB curriculum, SJK provides exciting experiences and guides students to discover their talents and passions. Go beyond at SJK.

  1. Accredited IB World Continuum School
  2. Experienced, passionate, professional teachers
  3. Project-based, design-thinking experiential learning
  4. Extensive co-curricular programs in athletics, arts, leadership and community service

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $21,290 to $78,800
 
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St. John's-Kilmarnock School 21290 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Coed

Branksome Hall


Toronto, Ontario
Bloor Street East/Mount Pleasant Road
 
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"Branksome Hall is Toronto’s only leading International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for girls in JK-Grade 12, developing the leaders of tomorrow through the nurturing of curiosity and critical thinking at every age.

  1. 13-acre downtown campus
  2. Athletics and Wellness Centre
  3. IB programs: JK to Grade 12
  4. Leadership opportunities

—From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $40,940 to $82,290
 
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Branksome Hall 40940 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls
Toronto, Ontario
York Mills Road/Bayview Avenue
 
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"Junior Academy offers programs for students from Toddler to Grade Eight, in midtown Toronto. The average class size is 10 to 14 students and it caters to many types of students with different learning profiles." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $28,900 to $40,000
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Junior Academy 28900 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
York Mills/Leslie
 
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"Learning is not one to many. It's many to one. From the teachers to the principal to the coaches and beyond, learning at WillowWood is a team approach." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $21,200 to $26,850
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WillowWood School 21200 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"St. George's School in Vancouver offers university-preparatory program to Canadian and International boarding students from Grade 8 to 12. The School's mission: Building Fine Young Men. One Boy at a Time." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Boys)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $33,400 to $94,800
  • Day, Boarding
  • 1212 students
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St. George's School 33400 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Boys
Ottawa, Ontario
Buena Vista Road/Springfield Road
 
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"Elmwood School is Ottawa's pre-eminent school for girls from PreK to Gr. 12. Our high academic standards, small class sizes and safe, supportive environment ensure that each girl is inspired to reach her full potential." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $17,500 to $34,276
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Elmwood School 17500 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
Toronto, Ontario
Lawrence/Don Mills
 
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"Brighton is the leading private school in Toronto for students with academic and/or social challenges. We offer curriculum-based and remedial Elementary programs; and credit, pre-credit and non-credit Secondary streams." —From the school

  • Gr. SK to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $28,750
  • Day school
  • 65 students
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Brighton School 28750 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Iris St/Woodroffe Ave
 
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"Empowering girls from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 through bilingual education." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $18,300
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Joan of Arc Academy | Academie Jeanne d'Arc 18300 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Girls
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"Calgary French & International School's immersive language learning environment and enriched curriculum inspires a deep curiosity, respect and exploration of the world for children aged 19 months to 18 years." —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $9,200 to $19,600
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Calgary French & International School 9200 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Avenue Rd/Bloor St W
 
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"RDS is a downtown co-ed school that fosters future-ready leaders by honouring the unique character and potential of each child. We offer small class sizes and access to top-tier facilities like UoT, the ROM and the AGO." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $29,190
  • Day school
  • 170 students
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The Rosedale Day School 29190 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Calgary, Alberta
17 Avenue SW/69 Street SW
 
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"Students develop a love of learning and discover their passions, thanks to our enriched academics and character, leadership, and wellness pillars. We proudly live by our values, “Together: Be Kind, Be Curious, Be Well."" —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $18,000 to $23,050
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Rundle College 18000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Scarborough - Toronto, Ontario
Ellesmere Rd/Warden Ave
 
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"The Sathya Sai School promotes human excellence through a value-based curriculum. The integration of academic excellence and character development lays the foundation for socially responsible future leaders." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $9,000
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Sathya Sai School of Toronto 9000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Saplings is the North Shore’s ONLY nature-based school which teaches your students the BC curriculum through hands-on outdoor experiences. Supporting deeper learning through concept-based and competency-driven approaches" —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 5 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $6,100
  • Day school
  • 40 students
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Saplings Nature School 6100 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Yonge/St. Clair
 
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"The Linden School's transformative teaching and socially-progressive values inspire academic excellence, wellness, and civic engagement, empowering students to become changemakers ready to take on complex global issues." —From the school

  • Gr. SK to 12 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $28,300 to $30,550
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The Linden School 28300 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
Toronto, Ontario
Eglinton Avenue East/Laird Drive
 
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"Explore Nature is experiential learning, exploring curiosity for the natural world. Our programs embrace nature connection through meaningful experiences and relationships focusing on personal growth and well-being." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 3 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $5,575 to $13,750
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Explore Nature 5575 Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Kitchener, Ontario
 
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"Carmel New Church School provides a loving, peaceful place with indoor and outdoor classrooms where students are taught to become productive and caring people, both in this life and the next." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $2,000 to $5,000
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Carmel New Church School 2000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
 
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"Aurora Alternative Micro School has created a curriculum that combines academic and creative experiences , engaging a child's head, heart and hands in an environment that is supportive, nurturing and rich in growth." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $10,000 to $12,000
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Aurora Alternative Micro School 10000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Leslie Street/York Mills Road
 
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"The Giles School has small class sizes, leadership programs and intensive STEAM learning that support both immersion and introductory language programming in English, French and Mandarin." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $23,000 to $25,000
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The Giles School 23000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Halifax, Nova Scotia
 
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"With a global network of schools around the world, a rich and proud history, and a strong and unique set of core values, Sacred Heart offers not just an education but an experience that is unparalleled in Nova Scotia." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls/Boys/Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $15,230 to $21,340
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Sacred Heart School of Halifax 15230 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Day Girls Boys Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Queen/Silver Birch
 
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"The Cole Academy welcomes students of all genders and orientations and their families. Using stories of under-represented communities, TCA prepares students socially, emotionally, and academically for future schooling." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $25,000
  • Day school
  • 15 students
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The Cole Academy 25000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Montreal, Quebec
The Boulevard/Côte-des-Neiges Road
 
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"The Priory School specializes in early childhood education, a place where childhood is cherished, and where meaningful learning takes place in an enriched and nurturing learning environment." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 6 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $21,810 to $23,685
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The Priory School 21810 Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
St Catharines, Ontario
Ontario St./Welland Ave.
 
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"Heuristic & autodidactic, inspired by Sudbury & democratic models. Students are self-directed, and holistically empowered. Voluntary attendance, year-round calendar, agency, & consent inspire free learning. Also Forest" —From the school

  • Gr. NS to 12 (Coed/Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $57 to $10,000
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Agate Private School 57 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools eSchool Homestay Day Boarding Coed Girls
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
QEW/Erin Mills Parkway
 
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"GlenOak Academy offers an educational experience as EXTRAORDINARY as your child! Our innovative, engaging approach to teaching and learning focuses on positive relationships, character development and academic success." —From the school

  • Gr. SK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $24,500 to $61,900
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GlenOak Academy 24500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools eSchool Day Coed
Westmount, Quebec
Mount Pleasant Avenue/Cedar Avenue
 
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"Located in Montreal, QC, Miss Edgar’s & Miss Cramp’s School offers a bilingual education for girls from K-11. From entrepreneurship to STEM, our unique learning environment empowers girls to lead the way." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 11 (Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $24,000 to $29,300
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Miss Edgar's & Miss Cramp's School 24000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
Toronto, Ontario
Bloor St. West/Windermere St.
 
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"Erudite School offers individual learning maps to meet the needs of each child. Our curriculum highlights: English, French, and optional Russian, the Arts and STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $15,540
  • Day school
  • 40 students
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Erudite Private School 15540 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Calgary, Alberta
17th Ave SW/Richmond Road SW
 
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"In addition to academics, our focus on mentorship, hands-on learning in and outside the classroom, and character development, will allow our students to thrive academically and personally as they discover who they are." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Boys/Coed/Girls)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $14,500 to $16,500
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North Point School 14500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Day Boys Coed Girls
Baie-D'Urfé, Montreal, Quebec
rue Victoria/rue Normandy
 
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"The Alexander von Humboldt German International School Montreal is a multilingual (German, English and French), private, co-educational school serving students from preschool to grade 12." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $9,950 to $12,950
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Alexander von Humboldt German International School 9950 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
North York, Ontario
Bathurst/Wilson
 
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"Magnificent Minds Inc. caters to students whose needs are not being met in traditional school environments, pursuing personal best through a balanced approach to education." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $24,000 to $28,000
  • Day school
  • 40 students
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Magnificent Minds 24000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Belleville, Ontario
 
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"Discover an exceptional education. Albert College is an independent boarding and day school for students in Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $21,400 to $85,500
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Albert College 21400 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Vaughan Street/Bertrand Street
 
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"Ottawa’s Fern Hill School offers Preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary Grades, including Core & Advanced French. Tuition starts at $3,250." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $3,250 to $15,200
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Fern Hill School - Ottawa 3250 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Maple Ridge, British Columbia
240th Street/Dewdney Trunk Road
 
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"Our practices in teaching and learning are exemplified by our outstanding academic results and are achieved through the active engagement of the head, heart, and hands." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $28,400 to $38,400
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Meadowridge School 28400 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Wilson Avenue/Avenue Road
 
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"Glen Briar Academy provides hands on programs and student centered teaching strategies that shape life long learners." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $12,750 to $28,500
  • Day school
  • 68 students
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Glen Briar Academy 12750 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Vancouver, British Columbia
Cambie/Nelson
 
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"Claren Academy is a future-focused, K-7 independent school located in the heart of Vancouver. We give students the tools to be creative, competent, and happy in their changing world." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 7 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $22,855
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Claren Academy 22855 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
West Vancouver, British Columbia
Upper Levels Highway/Cypress Bowl exit
 
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"By inspiring excellence – the continuous pursuit of personal best - in education and life, Mulgrave strives to equip lifelong learners to thrive in a diverse and interdependent world." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $27,870 to $31,450
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Mulgrave School 27870 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Victoria, British Columbia
Quadra Street/Burdett Avenue
 
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"Our students learn in a progressive, authentic, inspiring, welcoming, nurturing and in a safe, child-centred environment. Our small size, with one class for each grade, gives a sense of being part of a close-knit family." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $8,196 to $16,950
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Christ Church Cathedral School 8196 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Summerland, British Columbia
 
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"Want your child to experience an education that goes beyond textbooks? UNISUS is a K-12 IB boarding school that strives to make education an enjoyable, memorable experience that fully prepares students for any future." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $13,290 to $62,450
  • Day, Boarding
  • 130 students
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Unisus School 13290 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed
Calgary, Alberta
 
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"Our vision is student success. Success is realized through our highly flexible programs, outstanding instructional delivery, and extensive student supports. Our bursary program ensures our services are accessible to all." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $1 to $4,200
  • Homestay, eSchool
  • 1020 students
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ursa 1 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay eSchool Coed
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"Academy is strengths-based and remediation-focused. Collegiate is for those learning at or above grade-level. Blended+ is personalized for Grades 9-12 that empowers them to learn in-person, hybrid, and off-campus." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $14,600 to $18,980
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Calgary Academy & Calgary Collegiate 14600 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
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"GIST is the only full-time German school in Toronto offering high-quality education that empowers students to excel as global citizens. Our Charakter framework strengthens and promotes the best in every student." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $12,300 to $22,300
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German International School Toronto 12300 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Calgary, Alberta
Highway 1/Stony Trail East
 
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"Third Academy is a school with a heart. We are inclusive, supporting students with a variety of disabilities and disorders. Our sliding scale bursary program makes our services accessible to all families." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $2,625 to $17,500
  • Day school
  • 250 students
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Third Academy 2625 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Montreal, Quebec
Av de Monkland/Boul Cavendish
 
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"Lower Canada College is a gender-inclusive, K-12 university preparatory school, committed to excellence in teaching and learning. It is the only English high school in Quebec offering both the IB MYP and DP." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $28,500 to $30,750
  • Day school
  • 895 students
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Lower Canada College 28500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Etobicoke, Ontario
Burnhamthorpe Road/Kipling Avenue
 
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"We have a Christian-based perspective that builds the whole child. We teach them how to ask questions about the world around them while encouraging interest in bettering themselves and their community." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 5 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum
  • $7,880 to $13,240
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Olivet School 7880 Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Brockton is a gender-inclusive IB World School where every student matters, every family matters, community matters, and learning for life matters." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $27,200 to $30,600
  • Day school
  • 345 students
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Brockton School 27200 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Etobicoke, Ontario
Bloor/Shaver
 
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"Kingsley's small classes and personal approach help students reach their unique potential. Each child is seen, heard, and respected. French, music, and phys-ed round out a program which includes plenty of time outdoors." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 5 (Coed)
  • Traditional curriculum; Reggio Emilia
  • $8,000 to $14,000
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Kingsley Primary School 8000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Riverview, New Brunswick
 
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"Focusing on balancing academic and intellectual growth with physical and mental well-being, we engage students in a culture of collaboration and wellness through our world-class academic program." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 8 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum; International Baccalaureate
  • $15,900
  • Day school
  • 33 students
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Eastgate Academy 15900 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed
Calgary, Alberta
Crowchild Trail/Flanders Ave. SW
 
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"Clear Water Academy is the only private Catholic school in Alberta. We offer a rigorous academic program from Jr. Kindergarten to Grade 12 for students of all faiths. 100% of our students pursue post-secondary education." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Girls/Coed/Boys)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $15,700 to $17,400
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Clear Water Academy 15700 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Day Day Girls Coed Boys
Mississauga, Ontario
Erin Mills Parkway/Turner Valley Road
 
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"Oakwood is a distinguished private school in Mississauga specializing in special needs education, featuring programs rooted in the innovative Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based (DIR®)." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $23,355 to $78,720
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Oakwood Academy 23355 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
North Vancouver, British Columbia
 
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"Our rigorous, personalized programme and strong teacher-student relationships enable us to cultivate each student's talents, helping them build on strengths and discover the joy of learning." —From the school

  • Gr. K to 12 (Coed)
  • Liberal Arts curriculum
  • $21,500 to $24,500
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Alcuin College 21500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed
Toronto, Ontario
Davenport/Dupont
 
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"The Mabin School offers programs from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 in Toronto. Its average class size is 20 students." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 6 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $33,592
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The Mabin School 33592 Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed
Duncan, British Columbia
Brownsey Avenue/Government Street
 
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"Queen Margaret's School is a gender inclusive independent day/boarding university preparatory school in Duncan, BC that focuses on preparing young trailblazers...no two journeys are the same." —From the school

  • Gr. PS to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $17,950 to $79,230
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Queen Margaret's School 17950 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Coed
Ottawa, Ontario
Kirkwood/Laperriere
 
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"Revel Academy is a learner-driven micro-school that utilizes adaptive and mastery-based technology, Socratic discussions, hands-on projects, and real-world apprenticeships in an innovative, character-forging community." —From the school

  • Gr. JK to 12 (Coed)
  • Progressive curriculum
  • $15,250
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Revel Academy 15250 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed

Play-based preschools and daycares

Play-based preschools (also called "play school") are based on the belief that young children learn best through play. They offer mostly open-ended activities, with minimal structure. They aim to develop your child’s social and emotional skills, and to promote a love of learning in an interactive environment.

Play-based preschools, like other preschool programs, tend to be child-centred. They mostly let children choose their own activities. They rarely follow a set curriculum, though they usually have a daily schedule.

In these preschools, classrooms are set up to promote interaction, socialization, problem solving, and discovery learning. Often, there are different stations in class where kids can engage in a wide range of activities. For instance there might be a kitchen, building, reading, and sensory area. This allows kids to pursue their interests and learn and interact in different ways.

Play-based preschools typically don’t offer much direct instruction. Teachers rarely, if ever, provide whole-class lectures. They also don’t normally follow a strict curriculum, at least compared to academic preschools. To learn about the differences between play-based and academic preschools, read our guide.

That said, children can learn important skills in a play-based preschool, including social, emotional, and problem-solving skills. They also may acquire knowledge in some core subjects, such as math, reading, and writing (among others).

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."

Play-based preschools normally have lots of indoor and outdoor physical activity. Boys and girls run around a lot, dance, play hide-and-seek, sports, and other fun activities. They might also play board games and do jigsaw puzzles. And they'll likely do lots of arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, and colouring.

An example of a play-based preschool is Waldorf. While Waldorf preschools provide some focused work time, they also allot plenty of time for free play and play-based learning. They also place a big focus on pretend or imaginative play.

Play-based preschools have some appealing features.

Benefits of play-based preschools

To learn about the differences between play-based and academic preschools, read our guide. You can also read articles comparing different preschool approaches: Montessori to WaldorfMontessori to Reggio EmiliaWaldorf to Reggio EmiliaMontessori 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 a play-based preschool?” from school officials

“There have been numerous studies that conclude young students learn best through play. Children develop a good sense of self in an environment rich in language, play experiences, music, and gross motor development. They learn independence by developing their self-help skills and self-regulation. The many social interactions in a preschool environment help develop important emotional skills and foster a child’s larger perspective of the world.

Play is what makes learning meaningful and fun. A vibrant and successful classroom is rooted in daily activities that develop critical thinking through problem solving as children explore, predict, and investigate elements in the world around them.” Corina Gill, assistant head of the lower school at Bayview Glen Independent School, in Toronto, Ontario

“Play is how children learn—it is inquiry for young children. Learning in preschool is through play. There should be large blocks of uninterrupted time for children to play in the preschool’s schedule. There is a spectrum of play. Some play can be directed by the teacher with specific learning expectations in mind. Some play should be representative of the children’s own interests, with limited teacher interference. Some play should be completely unstructured and freely directed by the students.

Albert Einstein said that ‘play is the highest form of research.’ Young children also benefit from small increments of teacher-directed instruction. A balance of play-based learning and teacher-directed activities is ideal, with the emphasis being on play. ” Vanessa Sjerven, teacher at Elmwood School (the early years program), in Ottawa, Ontario

“We emphasize the importance of child-initiated play. Children play with natural, open-ended materials. A safe, secure, and gentle space is created where they can explore and evolve with their play, with as little interference from the teacher as possible. The teacher will only interfere when necessary in the free play of the child. In this way, the child is the master of their own activity, promoting feelings of confidence and trust in their own abilities.” Jennifer Deathe, head of admission at Waldorf Academy, in Toronto, Ontario

“Children learn more in one day of play than many of us learn in a week of hard work. When presented with the proper, enriched environment and opportunities for learning, your child can flourish. We do not expect any child to learn classroom material/content in a standard, regimented form. Our educators are there to help guide and lead your child to his or her best sense of self.” Paula Carrasco, director of Kendelhurst Academy, in Mississauga, 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 ‘academics.’ Through play, children investigate the world through their inquisitiveness and sense of discovery and develop a positive self-image. They also develop intellectually, socially, physically, emotionally, and acquire self-management skills.” Nora Ibrahim, preschool teacher and IB PYP (Primary Years Programme) coordinator at Académie de la Capitale, in Ottawa, Ontario

Series: Preschools

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