Toronto, ON | Grades PS - 2 | Shortlist
Our daughter's experience at Children's Garden Nursery School has been fantastic. She is in her 2nd year of attending the school having started at 2 years old. Coming in as a shy and sensitive girl with a fear of new people, a year and a half later she has morphed into a confident preschooler not afraid to strike a conversation with a stranger. I believe the school does a good job of providing a well-rounded curriculum that touches on a broad array of subjects. The student to teacher ratios are low providing a small community setting but also allowing students to excel given the level of attention. The teachers and admin staff have been incredible in fostering a positive learning environment for the children while keeping the parents actively involved through social events and weekly communications. We would not hesitate to recommend the school for parents looking for a preschool and particularly as a feeder/preparatory into one of the Toronto private schools.
Pauline Foulkes is the director of the school and started it over 30 years ago so she brings a lot of experience and passion in facilitating an enriched environment for the children. Members of the school administration are very engaged in the daily activities at the school and are top notch with email communications with parents with respect to upcoming events, schedules, and housekeeping items. The school has an excellent parent handbook that provides more details of the curriculum, extended care programs, and general school information.
We have been very satisfied with the quality of teaching provided to our daughter at Children's Garden Nursery School. We have always received excellent feedback from her teachers on our daughter's progress in their classes; areas where improvement or extra work was required; and how our daughter was interacting with others at school. They have all been accessible and attentive to our daughter's needs. All of our daughter's teachers to date have seemed genuinely dedicated to their work and to providing an excellent learning experience for their students. This has not been surprising, as most of our daughter's teachers have been teaching at Children's Garden Nursery School for many years with several having decades of early childhood teaching experience. In fact, our daughter's first teacher was actually one of the founder's daughters!
Children's Garden Nursery School provides a theme-based curriculum that is relatively structured which was one of the main selling points for us. There is a calendar sent out each month that shows exactly what the children will be doing each day and the focus. There are also specialty programs: French is taught every day and there is drama, music, and sports ball once a week. This broad exposure has allowed our daughter to explore different interests in numerous areas. We understand that the academic curriculum at the JK and Kindergarten are quite challenging based on the feedback we have heard from parents that have enrolled their children in the later years. We are confident that the academic program offered by the school will prepare our daughter well for primary school in a private setting.
As a preschool, we weren't expecting a lot of extracurricular activities from Children's Garden Nursery School and were more focused on socialization. That said, the school does provide afternoon modular programs that further develop academic skills such as reading, arts and crafts, and writing. We enrolled our daughter in a program called Alpha-Mania which is a once a week program for a few hours that fosters pre-reading skills through dynamic themes, interactive play, and multi-sensory activities. The classes sizes are small this year (2 to 3 students) so our daughter is getting a lot of attention. The results are clear: our daughter is a little over three and is able to recognize all the letters and spell virtually every word presented to her.
Perhaps one of the things we have valued the most about our daughter attending Children's Garden Nursery School is the friendships she has developed there. Our daughter at a young age was quite a sensitive girl and would get anxious around new situations and people. As such, we had concerns over whether she would fit in with her classmates and if she would develop any friends. The good news is she has developed strong connections with many of her classmates, both male and female and talks about them all the time. Over the last two years we have come to know many of our daughter's classmates and parents through school social events and birthday parties and will definitely keep in touch with many of them beyond as she enters JK.
Our daughter's overall experience at Children's Garden Nursury School has been fantastic. As a toddler, she would attend two days a week for a few hours. Then in her preschool year (age 3), she would go five days a week in the mornings (though there are full day classes available for the working parent). She is always enthusiastic about attending school every day and you can tell that she is engaged in the enriched program that the school offers based on how she describes her day to us. Equally important, the teacher to student ratio is small and have turned a some what sensitive and relatively shy toddler to a preschooler that is much more confident in communication and interacting with people, both at her level and with adults.
There is a strong sense of community at Children's Garden Nursury School. First, parents are encouraged to volunteer for the Parent Association and to donate their time at various special functions throughout the year such as the Halloween party and the Riverdale picnic. Second, the school takes an active approach with updating parents on what their child will be learning each month in the core curriculum as well as French, music, sportball, and drama classes. Third, short videos or pictures from the classroom are sent to parents frequently, which we thought was a nice touch. The school's focus on community have helped our daughter feel welcome there since day one, and have proven to be a major component in her enjoyment of her time at the school.
The school is located near Bayview and Eglinton and is easily accessible by car or public transit. It is walking distance from the Leaside neighbourhood and about a 10-15min drive from Moore Park which is where we live. The children are mainly kept in the school give their age (2-5 years old) though there is an enclosed area to play outside during the spring/summer.