Finding daycare in a new neighbourhood can be challenging. Choosing the right preschool for your family can also require some searching. A clean, safe and well-run child care centre is important, but finding something that fits you and your child’s needs means you have to go beyond first impressions and take a look into how the center operates. Fortunately, there are some straightforward ways to go about that. We’ll list those briefly. Then, we’ll highlight daycares in the King West area.

1) What is the centre’s track record? If you can, speak with other families whose children attend the center. What has their experience of the teachers and the centre been?Ask about staff. What’s the teacher to child ratio? Do the teachers have degrees in early childhood education? Does the centre provide ongoing education for its staff?

2) Research online reviews. You can gather valuable information—both red flags and enthusiastic recommendations—from people who have invested in writing about their experiences with daycares.

3) Another great way to get familiar with a centre is to go and observe. Do the teachers focus on play-based learning, or on more structured lesson plans? What about field trips and other enrichment programs? Does the centre offer these?

4) Ask how the preschool communicates with parents. Do they send notes home, or do they make use of more up-to-date communications via computer, the Internet, etc.? Which type of communication suits you best?

5) Ask about staff. What’s the teacher to child ratio? Do the teachers have degrees in early childhood education? Does the centre provide ongoing education for its staff?

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Now, for some specific daycares. We consulted people who used data from the City of Toronto’s quality ratings for programs serving infants, toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners. This data was from schools associated in some way with the city, so we also supplemented with information about some private centres.

OEYC Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street)
Parents rate this daycare’s staff as highly experienced, trustworthy and welcoming. The space is generous and well organized. This location has excellent systems in place. According to parents, these systems bring another layer of safety and security. Extra caregivers or staff members are always visible and identified by badges. The centre is known for offering extra support to parents, as well as sponsoring free workshops for them.

BonAventure Child Care Centre (295 Dufferin Street)
BonAventure’s philosophy speaks for itself. They are committed to quality childcare for all children without bias. They understand every child as unique. BonAventure’s emphasis is on care for children’s physical, intellectual and emotional life. Children from all socio-economic backgrounds and a multicultural staff reflect the rich diversity of Toronto.

CityKids Early Learning & Child Care Centre (34 Bathurst Street)
This public early learning and child care centre takes children from infancy to age 4. Staff speaks a wide range of languages, so children from many cultures are welcomed and cared for. Food is catered and dietary needs are respected. Food options include halal, vegetarian, pork-free and peanut-free. CityKids consistently ranks at the highest scale for quality education and a safe environment.

Fraser School Community Day Care Centre (79 Manning Avenue)
With a staff that is committed to each child’s best care, Fraser School provides outstanding early education. The program is enriched by special events and celebrations. Parental involvement is considered an integral part of the school’s environment. As one parent says, “Everyday I go to work feeling confident my son is being very well taken care of, learning, socializing and having fun.”

Trinity Bellwoods Care Centre (155 Crawford Avenue)
Located in Trinity Bellwoods Park (west of Bathurst Street and north of Queen Street), CARE is a non-profit child care center licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Education. The governing board is comprised of parent volunteers whose children are enrolled in CARE and other community members. It serves families with children ranging in age from infancy to 12 years old. Housed in the Trinity Community Recreation Center, the school has great access to the park’s rich environment. Caring educators and an excellent staff to child ratio make CARE an excellent choice.

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