Just Like Home: Local Daycare Facilities Offer The Ideal Environment For Kids To Play & Grow Together
By Rebecca Wright And Jim Murphy
Summer Break can put a lot of pressure on parents to keep their kids entertained, especially for school-aged children.
For those seeking services to keep their young children busy, having fun, immersed in learning and taken care of, there are countless daycares throughout the region to choose from.
But, where is best to send your little one? It’s a tough decision to make and one that shouldn’t be made lightly. Biz X took a look at a handful of great choices to provide readers some insight in to the industry. Read on to learn more!
Little Stars Child Care
At Little Stars Child Care, according to Director Tricia Fletcher, they have an advantage over other daycares because they are a small centre.
“We develop close relationships with our families and community organizations that focus on Early Childhood Education (ECE) and intervention,” says Fletcher. “Through the years we have had many children with developmental delays in our program that were able to thrive, learn and grow, here at Little Stars. Our teachers are very talented, kind and welcoming and help all children learn through play and creative experiences.”
Little Stars Child Care, 3139 Dougall Avenue in Windsor has been operating for seven years with their program influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach. The staff of five teachers at Little Stars are ECE qualified and have both CPR and First Aid certificates.
“Our bright and spacious setting accommodates 21 toddler and pre-school aged children and provides an intimate place for children transitioning from home to day care,” says Fletcher, describing her business, which is run out of a converted home.
They accept kids from 18 months old up to five years old and only do full daycare from Monday to Friday. She recommends signing up at least six months in advance, because they often have a waiting list.
Their summer program entails teaching outside sometimes as they have a very nice yard, states Fletcher. Their “large natural outdoor classroom,” has more than double the required square footage, she adds.
“Our outdoor classroom features include trees, grass surfaces, a mud kitchen and vegetable garden,” Fletcher points out. “This gives children plenty of room to learn, explore their environment and get lots of fresh air and exercise.”
Little Stars has a comfortable home-like feel with lots of natural light and a well-organized, stimulating space.
“We offer enriched programming, a large natural outdoor play area, and a menu that features seasonal and organic foods,” she notes.
When it comes to choosing a daycare, Fletcher advises: “Look for a centre that meets your needs and your child’s needs, especially if your child requires additional supports. A learning environment with kind, open-minded, caring teachers can truly help all children shine!”
A Place To Grow Childcare
For a seamless transition into school for pre-school aged kids, or for school-aged kids to maintain the structure and routine of school during the summer, you might want to check out A Place to Grow Childcare.
With two locations — one at 816 Ellis Street East inside St. Angela School and the other at 1213 E.C. Row Avenue (South Service Road) inside St. Christopher School — A Place to Grow Childcare has been open for 20 years.
“We are conveniently located inside two schools within the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board, making for an easier transition to school and offering a seamless day for kids,” states Lisa Mouawad, Executive Director of the non-profit daycare.
Throughout the school year, full day or before/after school care, is only available to students up to 12 years old attending those schools, or infant, toddler and preschoolers aged three months and up. But, in the summertime, they accept all kids, regardless of what school they attend.
“Students who do not attend our schools are welcome to come during PD days, summer break, March break and over the Christmas holidays,” notes Mouawad. “We are also very flexible with scheduling, including our infant, toddler and preschool programs — working with parents to make things easier for them any way we can.”
Mouawad comments that they aim to hire registered Early Childhood Educators, but sometimes this is not possible, so they also have staff from related fields who are child and youth workers, teachers and educational assistants.
“We provide a safe, fun loving environment where the child’s voice is encouraged and valued,” she stresses.
Music and crafts are embedded into their programs and displayed proudly, Mouawad adds.
Activities are student initiated and supported by the staff. And one of the advantages of being located in an elementary school is that they have access to a full-size gym and large classrooms.
“There is a wide variety of quiet activities available to the children in a very inviting and comfortable space, and children are encouraged to provide their input,” she says.
At St. Christopher they take ages 16 months to 12 years; from toddlers, preschool, JK/SK extended seamless day care, and school age before and after school.
At St. Angela, they take infants starting at three months old, toddlers, preschool, JK/SK extended seamless day care, and school age before and after school.
Mouawad mentions their 20 staff members are committed to growing, working and sharing together with the kids, as one big family.
Offering assistance and information to parents and caregivers, being positive role models to younger staff and students who are entering the childcare field and nurturing the needs of the children in their care through positive, loving, respectful and encouraging ways, are some of the things that make them unique as a team at A Place to Grow Childcare, comments Mouawad.
“We offer a family type atmosphere with a wealth of experience in the daycare field,” she asserts. “As well, most of the staff are mothers who are caring, responsible and reliable.”
Prices depend on age and how long your little one will be staying at A Place to Grow Childcare. Costs range from $18 for a half day for a school-aged child (six to 12 years old) up to $25 for a full day.When searching for the right daycare she suggests parents have questions written down so they don’t forget anything, and to understand no question is a wrong question when it comes to the care of your children.
“Look for evidence of learning, play and developmental skills through observing the children and classroom bulletin boards,” indicates Mouawad, adding parents should check out the parent information board and menus to see what is happening on a daily basis within each room.
Wee Watch — Windsor West
Home-based child care is a great way to give your children a home-away-from-home when you’re busy at work. But, how can you be sure that a child care provider’s home is safe and nurturing enough to provide this?
Open since 2005, Wee Watch — Windsor West, the area office of the province-wide Wee Watch non-profit home child care franchise, provides Windsor and Essex County with licenced home child care for children ages six weeks to 12 years.
Wee Watch maintains a growing number of licenced facilities in homes throughout the area. These providers offer an authentic home environment for children, which allows for a highly flexible day, evening, weekend and overnight care on a full and part-time basis. The small number of children at each location allows each child more personal and flexible attention to meet their individual needs.
While Wee Watch is always looking for new local providers, according to Tracy Bruce — home-based Wee Watch Area Supervisor — it’s important to note that Wee Watch home child care providers are screened and monitored very strictly.
“Our licence from the Ministry of Education ensures that our screening and monitoring process meets or exceeds provincial regulations,” says Bruce. “Only licenced home care providers are screened and monitored by an agency.”
Their careful screening process includes interviews with providers to demonstrate exceptional child care skills, inspection of the home to ensure children are provided a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment, a physician’s health report, first-aid certification, as well as personal references and police clearances for the provider and the provider’s family.
“Licenced home care locations are also monitored with unscheduled and scheduled monthly visits by government approved registered Early Childhood Educators,” Bruce indicates. “These visits check the child care provider’s home for safety and ensure all standards are maintained.”
Cost of care varies with the age of children and the hours of care required, so check out their website to learn if Wee Watch is right for you and your wee one.
Toy Box Early Childhood Education Centre
In the age of mobile devices, it’s more important than ever for parents to promote and maintain good physical health for themselves and their children.
Anna Raymond, Owner and Operator of the Toy Box Early Childhood Education Centre — a home-grown Windsor business operating for 17 years — values the importance of diet and exercise when providing the best possible care to children from newborn to 12 years.
“We feel physical fitness and nutrition are important parts of every day,” Raymond expresses. “That is why we have built within our facilities a full-sized gymnasium and outdoor play structure. Plus, our menus are based on Canada’s Food Guide and provide a balanced source of nutrition.”
Raymond also tells us The Toy Box believes the best possible care is assured through partnership.
“We are committed to providing exceptional care and educational opportunities through a safe, nurturing, learning environment based on the respect, trust and partnership of the parents, educators and children,” Raymond explains. “In order to ensure that such an environment is created, we seek to employ the most competent available persons.”
Their staff of 90 registered Early Childhood Educators are trained in CPR and First Aid, as well as health and safety awareness, in order to provide the best and safest possible care.
Costs vary from $13 to $45 per day depending on the age of the child and the duration/time frame of the service (full day or half day, before school and/or after school). With seven locations (four are non-profit) in Windsor Essex, there’s sure to be one close to your home for your child!
Story Book Early Learning Centre
Educators are always looking for ways to incorporate fun into the educational experience of children.
For more than four decades, the non-profit Story Book Early Learning Centre (SBELC) has built an excellent reputation for child care in the Windsor and Essex County area by providing top-notch play-based educational programs within a safe, secure, clean and supervised environment.
Donna Hedrick, Director of SBELC, credits their longevity and success to the dedication of the centre’s staff of 30 registered Early Childhood Educators, assistant teachers, educational assistants and personal support workers.
“We don’t have much turnover when it comes to our staff,” says Hedrick. “This is really important for the stability of the programs we offer because it’s the commitment of the staff that makes our programs great. Our commitment is so strong we offer a money back guarantee.”
Hedrick tells Biz X the SBELC provides early childhood learning programs consisting of a purposeful play-based learning curriculum.
“The staff plan developmentally appropriate and constructive curriculum by following the children’s lead,” Hedrick explains. “While children are playing, their thought processes can lead into a whole array of different things. As teachers, we add to their exploration and knowledge to take their play to a whole new level.”
Their main site, located at 492 County Road 8 in Essex, offers programs for newborns to 3 years 8 months (almost 4 years) of age. Programs for children ages 3.8 to age 12 are run from their second location at Essex Public School (72 Brien Avenue East in Essex).
Prices range from $7 to $39 per day depending on the age of the child, the length of time and the time of the day your child is cared for and whether the child is provided lunch.
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