Toronto, ON | Grades PS - 4 | Shortlist
My husband and I couldn't be happier about our decision to send our 3 year old son to CGS. He has had such a positive experience in their Early Start program due to many factors, including the warm and caring teachers, broad spectrum of classes/learning opportunities provided and overall family atmosphere of the school. There are not many preschool programs in the city that offer such a diverse curriculum including Music, French, Gym, Technology and Mindfulness. My son is quite sporty so he particularly enjoys CGS's excellent Physical Education program which also includes Yoga. He came home one day and showed us how to "stick handle" which he learned in gym class during their hockey unit. Needless to say we were very impressed! He looks forward to going to school everyday and even asks to go on the weekends which I still can't get over!
Marie, the school's principal is one of the kindest most down to earth people I've ever met. She seems to truly have the students' best interest at heart. Marie is a parent herself so she has lots of wonderful wisdom to share with fellow parents if needed. She is also an excellent role model which is demonstrated in her work with the charitable organization "Children of Hope Uganda". The school does many fundraising events for this cause which I love since it teaches the students kindness, compassion and gratitude. The overall communication of the school is excellent. Kelly, who is head of admissions does an amazing job keeping parents informed of what is going on in the school with her weekly blogs and general information emails.
The school is located in the Toronto neighborhood of Leaside. It's very accessible, right off of Eglinton Avenue, just East of Bayview Avenue. The school has its own parking lot as well as plenty of side street parking. It backs on to a lovely and quiet residential neighbourhood. The older grades regularly make use of the nearby parks and high school grounds for various activities. Because the school only goes to Grade 3 the students are always accompanied by teachers when leaving the grounds.
CGS is a small school of under 100 students. Because of this there is definitely a family dynamic. I have been so impressed with the relationships my son has formed with some of the older students in the school. His class is beside the Grade 2 classroom and he is also in the aftercare program so he has gotten to know many of the older students in the school. I've often picked my son up from aftercare and observed one of the older children playing a game with him or assisting him with his coat. It's quite heart warming to see.
I cannot say enough good things about the teachers at CGS. They are all extremely friendly and kind and seem to really care about the best well being of the children. My son had a short period at the beginning of the school year where he would cry daily at drop-off and not want me to leave. His teachers handled the situation exceptionally well, coming up with different strategies to help him feel more comfortable and secure in his new class. I always felt/feel like he is in the best hands possible. Whenever I am with my son at school and we encounter a teacher, they always make time to chat with him or share a special anecdote with me about his day. I love the family atmosphere the school has to offer. The teachers treat the children (and their parents!) like family.
The school offers a broad range of extra-curricular activities. Everything from skating, swimming and skiing to Glee Club, French and Art. Each term they offer a wide variety of before and after school clubs to choose from. I also like how they seem to customize the clubs to suit the students' ages and interests. For example they offer clubs like building for the younger students and hockey for the older students. I am really looking forward to enrolling my son in their Chess Club once he is old enough. I've heard other parents rave about the incredible Chess teachers who are outsourced by the school.
As I mentioned before my son loves CGS and is always excited to return on Monday. Each morning we look at his schedule and talk about what is happening at school that day. His teachers really seem to go out of their way to make sure there is always sometime new and exciting planned for the children each week. They keep things fun and interesting which is one of the reasons why I think he enjoys the program so much.
There are lots of opportunities for parents to get involved in school life. CGS has a Parent Committee as well as a Foundation Committee. They also do quite a few family oriented activities including a Terry Fox run, Halloween party and skating night which were all a lot of fun and a great way to meet others parents within the school community.
I have been very pleased with the academic portion of my son's program. From the work his teachers send home, it seems like they do a good balance of Phonics, Writing and Math. I like that they send home completed work regularly so I can see how much he has progressed from the beginning of the year. I have noticed a huge change in his fine motor abilities over the past few months and I have his teachers to thank for that. He has also accumulated all of his letter sounds and has excellent number recognition. These are all skills I feel he wouldn't of learned if he were in a typical daycare preschool setting. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be extremely well prepared for JK.