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The Mabin School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO Gr. 6 — Toronto, ON (Map)

The Mabin School:

Roundtable Q&A Discussion About The Mabin School (2020)

The Mabin School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Lily, Jeffrey, Jaime had to say about the school.

Video Contents

Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Lily — current parent

Lily has one son in Grade 4 at The Mabin School. On a summer visit to Toronto, they visited the school and wanted her son to attend. This was a huge deciding factor in their decision to move to Toronto from Miami as a family. She appreciates the progressive teaching style at The Mabin School, which she believes has contributed to her son’s confidence, leadership, critical thinking, and problem solving. She feels that the school is an extension of their home, and that it has supported her family in their transition to a new community.

  • “As progressive, sometimes disruptive thinkers and doers, we were just on the heels of creating a school in Miami that was about to be approved. When I started the tour of [The Mabin School], I really realized and felt that [The Mabin School] seemed to be the school we were hoping to build in Miami.”
  • “Child-led learning, progressive in its thinking, doing things differently, the empathy curriculum, and ‘habits of mind’ approach just really won us over at [The Mabin School]. When [my son] came home that first year telling us that he was learning to manage his impulsivity. … We were just blown away. We've really been thrilled to see how [our son’s] experience has unfolded, because I think [The Mabin School] builds students, but also cultivates humans that will learn to really be citizens in the world.”
  • “[My son] is a tremendously confident nine year old. It's just tremendous. I think he's thrived so much in his confidence, his sense of leadership, his critical thinking, and problem solving. ... I think the [The Mabin School] environment has really fostered that. One of the key ideas that I really appreciate about [The Mabin School] is the way they talk about the 4 Rs. … [Which stand for] reading, writing, arithmetic, and relationship. With ‘relationship,’ it's the business of each child being known. One of the most beautiful things about [The Mabin School] is that each child is really known inside the building by so many of the teachers, the leadership, and so many of the students.”
  • “On Fridays, [The Mabin School] always has the integration between the different grade levels. [My son] as a Grade 1 [student] is comfortable with a child 5 or 6 years older than him.”
  • “[My son’s] first, and probably biggest statement about [The Mabin School] was that he loved it, and he wanted to stay in Toronto forever. He repeated that for weeks and weeks once he got started.”
  • “My son loves the sports that take place at different parts of the day. I think the amount of movement from the standpoint of all the outdoor play that the kids have each day is also really important to him. I think it really balances the rest of the learning. There's the break mid-morning, there's the break at lunch, and often they're outside playing again for gym.”
  • “[My son] is really enjoying the computer he has this year, I think it’s a Mac. [My son is] enjoying the space, and the amount of space the class has to move around. He enjoys the neighbourhood. I think [The Mabin School] feels like an extension of his home, and because of that, he really thrives in the environment.”
  • “I would call [The Mabin School] a creative pioneer. … Creative, flexible, and adaptable. I think it's really a reflection of its growth mindset approach to being in the world. At any given moment the kids can be moving through the year, the school could be moving through the year. There is a receptivity to a possibility that comes, and a willingness to explore it, and let a whole theme and a thread evolve. We've had so many lovely experiences in the community. ... [The Mabin School] is here to do something beautiful for our children, but I think also to set an example in the larger community.”
  • “[The Mabin School] is tremendously warm and an extension of home. [There is] a lot of value around problem solving, creativity, community, and impact. The key word that comes up for me for values is, the business of change making. … We'll be out and about and traveling and in some environment, oftentimes with big thinkers, and [my son] will pop up out of nowhere, the littlest one in the room and go, ‘mom, I’m a change maker, I'm a change maker.’”
  • “One of the things that I enjoy at [The Mabin School] is that I'm able to have a dialogue with [my son’s] teacher as needed. If I see [he] needs more, I can reach out to the teacher, and oftentimes will be met with a very open mind. If [my son] needs more, then they can feed him more material. They're aware, they're following the child. Part of the goal with student-led learning is really to respond to what the child needs.”
  • “I have really loved the smaller environment of [The Mabin School]. ... I really appreciate that all the kids really know each other. I think having a child that started as young as [senior kindergarten], I was also able to meet all the parents, and those parents really became part of my community.”
  • “[The Mabin School] really facilitated our integration into this community, and in our case, also our integration into the city.”

Jeffrey — current parent

Jeffry has one son who attends as a Grade 5 student. He describes his son as unique and believes that The Mabin School fosters an environment where differences are not only accepted but celebrated and encouraged. Freedom and self-expression are valued at the school, which has reduced his son’s anxiety around school and learning. He appreciates the level of individualized support that is given to his son academically and otherwise.

  • “We had heard that [The Mabin School] actually encouraged and supported individuality. We recognized that our son was unique in so many ways. He was not traditional. He was a nonconformist, even at age three or four we recognized that. The things that we had heard about [The Mabin School] have actually been true. There are a lot of schools that espouse wanting to to focus on empathy, and original thinking, and foster executive function, and creative leadership, but [The Mabin School] actually enacts that.”
  • “[My son] feels comfortable being who he is, on whatever day that may be. [The Mabin School] has created an environment for him, along with the rest of the student body, that is particularly responsive to, and supportive of creativity and originality. [The Mabin School] actually has lived up to its billing. It is everything that we expected and more. I guess the biggest compliment is the example of my son, who hates school, but he loves [The Mabin School].”
  • “[My son] would rather skip to graduation in university, but he recognizes that he has to go through this process, and there's no better place that [my son] enjoys being than [The Mabin School]. It's about cultivating original thought, and allowing him to be who he is, without fear, trepidation, or anxiety.”
  • “I think self-confidence is one of the reasons why [my son’s] anxiety was eliminated. [The Mabin School] is a nurturing environment, and it has fostered his self- confidence. He feels as though it's a safe space, and I'm not projecting this on him. These are actually some of the words that he's used when I ask him about his day.”
  • “These [students at The Mabin School] are not only the kind of people that make me optimistic about society, because of the creation, and the fostering at [The Mabin School]. These are also the people that I want my children to be around. I want [my kids] to be around and learn from other kids who go to [The Mabin School], because of the type of character that I think [The Mabin School] not just builds, but actually promotes and supports.”
  • “[My son would] say that he loves his classmates, he loves the teachers, and he enjoys the opportunity to move while he's in school. ... He enjoys the freedom that he has. It's not just the freedom to express himself with the clothes he wears, and how he carries himself, but also the freedom to move while he's in school, and the change of scenery, and the rotation, and that there are new and interesting and exciting things to do.”
  • “Not one day does [my son] ever say, ‘well, [The Mabin School] was the same as yesterday.’ That would be the stock answer from a 10 year old. … He never says that. [He says] ‘so here's what we did today’, which to me is amazing, because he's become so much more of a communicator as a result of that, because he actually has content to talk about.”
  • “[The Mabin School] is adaptable. I would also say that the personality of [The Mabin School] has a high emotional IQ. I would say that it [would be a] respectful individual, and all the things that my wife and I have tried to instill in our children in terms of a value system. … We see it constantly emerging in [our son], his thoughtfulness, his respect for other people, and in the fact that he is adaptable. [The Mabin School] creates an environment that adapts all the time to change.”
  • “Empathy is huge, I think that's a key value [at The Mabin School]. ... I think the other thing is respect, respect for yourself, and respect for others. I think because it encourages self-respect, once you have that, it actually bolsters you, and fortifies your opportunity to respect other people, and I think that's really important.”
  • “In the environment that we live in, there are so many forces that are antithetical to people respecting one another, their individuality, and their uniqueness. I think this is a key attribute of [The Mabin School]. ... I enjoy the fact that my child is surrounded by children who are very different, and very unique, but share the same value of respecting each other, and honouring each other's differences [at The Mabin School].”
  • “My son has had academic challenges, and he learns in a very different way. The thing about [The Mabin School] is they took the time to customize programs, not just during the school year, but in the off season during the summer, to help him along. The amount of personal attention [he received] was incredible. It was almost as if he was having individual tutors, not just one tutor. All of his teachers helped customize programs for him, which I thought was incredible.”
  • “I believe [The Mabin School] meets children where they are academically. They don't have to get to where [The Mabin School] is, [The Mabin School] meets them where they are, and supports them where they are. I want to dispel any notion that because [The Mabin School] emphasizes the holistic child, and empathy, and respect, and leadership, that it is anything less than academically excellent. You can find any and every level of academic rigour that you want there.”
  • “Coming from a very traditional educational background, I thought [The Mabin School], because they promote all these soft skills, that in some way the academic rigoyr is lessened. They are not mutually exclusive. At [The Mabin School] you have the best of both worlds, and an incredible balance.”
  • “Because of the class sizes, there's an intimacy in the school, which I think is extraordinarily supportive. … What I like about [The Mabin School], is there are no ostensible restrictions to that. There are children in Grade 2 who interact with children in Grade 5... I like how there is a fluidity, and an integration, and the barriers are very low in terms of that kind of interaction. You can have your group of friends as expansive or as narrow as you decide. My son has ranged from having one best friend to having ten best friends within a week.”

Jaime — alum and current parent

  • School alumni

Jamie is an alumnus of The Mabin School, and now has two young girls that attend. He describes the school as a family, and values the closeness of the community of teachers, students, and parents. He believes that the school teaches empathy, with a big focus on embracing individuality and social responsibility. He appreciates that the school focuses on academics, but in a way that appeals to each individual student, regardless of what level they are at. His daughters are highly engaged and inquisitive, which he attributes to their time at The Mabin School.

  • “[The Mabin School] is empathetic, and it is a family. The kids know all the staff, and the staff and all the kids. It's a first-name basis, and it's the school without pretension. It’s a school that focuses on education and doing things differently. You know, the status quo is not something that [The Mabin School] is. Even in the way that it's student-led learning and a student's idea can become central to the course [material].”
  • “It's a house and it’s a community. It's just so great, and our girls are thriving. They both love going to school every day.”
  • “[The Mabin School] is creating the kind of people that we all aspire to be, in terms of [being] change makers, in terms of the kids being confident, and they are empathetic and they are compassionate. They really are the kinds of kids that we would want, not only in the schools that they will go to next, but as greater members of society. I just love everything about it.”
  • “[My daughters] love going to school every day”
  • “I love the fact that there is a real opportunity for self-expression [at The Mabin School], and that it's not only allowed, but encouraged. It's like ‘be you, be your best you.’ That is so incredibly [The Mabin School], and so progressive, and so important.”
  • “The children are so highly engaged and they're so invested in [The Mabin School], but so are the parents.”
  • “It's so easy as a parent to be hook, line, and sinker into being involved in [The Mabin School community]. It doesn't feel like an obligation, doesn't feel like something I'm tasked with. … The parent community is as engaged in the school as the children are, because it is so truly authentic. It's not something that [The Mabin School] says, and then isn't really there in practice, which I think happens with some schools.”
  • “[The Mabin School] allows you to be who you are in a judgment-free zone. I think that is really key.”
  • “It’s the fact that there is open acceptance of ‘you just have to be your best you, and that is good enough for everybody else in this building.’ That transcends to parents, faculty, students alike.”
  • “In terms of the curriculum, we see how inquisitive the students are, and how the questions that they ask often form the basis of the teachings that we see [at The Mabin School].”
  • “I think social responsibility is such a big part of [The Mabin School] experience. It's key for me. ... At [The Mabin School], it's so amazing to see the kids really consciously care about the world around them, and there's a real focus on how they are going to contribute positively to making the world around them better. Whether it be the five blocks, around the school, or how is Toronto going to get better? Or how is Ontario going to get better? How can Canada be better?”
  • “I think what is surprising to me [about The Mabin School] is how quickly kids learn to love going to school, it doesn't take a long time. … It really is such a rich experience for them.”
  • “[My daughter’s] day is adapted to meet her needs. Right now, there's less of a focus on her getting the nuances of math down. Her social skills have become so much better for her, which was a struggle. Socializing is really hard for her, and other kids who have autism. [The Mabin School] has allowed her to very comfortably play with others, because [The Mabin School] is driven by empathy and exclusivity. What an amazing environment.”
  • “At no point do we ever feel that there is undue pressure on [my daughter] to move any faster than she needs to [at The Mabin School]. ... She is encouraged and pushed, which is important. … We feel really comfortable that the faculty [at The Mabin School] are so highly trained. They are really such excellent, passionate educators, and they're all just so incredibly bright and so accomplished in their own right. There isn't anybody underqualified who is on the faculty.”
  • “Your children are with people that really understand early childhood education, and really understand how to teach a child that is perhaps struggling, or is perhaps behind in a certain area, but allowing them to catch up in a way that gives them self-confidence.”
  • “All of the things that I learned at [The Mabin School] are things that I carry through to everything I've done throughout my life ever since, like it's focus on friendships, and the ability to work collaboratively with others in the classroom. The ability to be creative, and to think differently, and all of these skills certainly are important. ... Academics are really important. I certainly noticed that when I was going into Grade 5, that I was really comfortable with the workload. It wasn't overwhelming. I did not feel behind.”
  • “Something that's often heard from kids that are graduating [from The Mabin School] is that they go into their next school really capable, and really able to take on the tasks that are ahead of them. They're really very equipped and across a myriad of categories.”
  • “I didn't struggle to make friends [in high school and university], because I just went to introduce myself to people. It was just like it was a non-starter. I didn't have to think about it. It wasn't a forced exercise for me, because [The Mabin School] has sort of taught me that that's just how we do [things]. I think that that is just so it's just so nice to see. I think that the small class size allows so much of the dynamic inter- working with one another in small groups on projects. All of that is so nice to see. ... [The Mabin School] really does foster teamwork, and that idea of working collectively towards common goals, which is just so nice to see in the classroom setting.”

More about The Mabin School

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More video reviews

Parent, Jody Berkes (2020)

Watch our parent interview with Jody Berkes to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to have a child attend The Mabin School.


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