Huron Playschool Cooperative

A Great Childcare Option for UofT Families

University College TorontoLiving next door to the University of Toronto comes from its advantages—we get to take walks through its green lawns and under its leafy trees, slide down the hill beside Robarts Library in the winter. But for student families at the Toronto, the relationship is absolutely recipcrocal. The reasons why Huron Playschool is a great childcare option for student families at the University of Toronto are as follows: 

ECONOMICS: Because of our cooperative structure, our fees are demonstrably lower than other childcare centres in the area. 

GEOGRAPHY: We're literally steps away from campus (if you go out the backdoor). It doesn't get anymore convenient than that. 

KINESIOLOGY: Okay, what we really mean is that we're flexible, which suits student lifestyles, which are variable and ever subject to change. 

SOCIOLOGY: Meet other families in the areas and strengthen your own social connections. 

But don't take our word for it. We've EVEN got a primary source:

"As a graduate student at the University of Toronto whose partner has an ever-changing schedule, I rely on Huron Playschool to provide a safe, fun, and stimulating after-school environment for my kids. They always look forward to spending an hour or two at the end of each school day with their Playschool friends and the awesome staff. As a parent who does co-op shifts twice a month, I get to see first-hand the rich and diverse array of activities that Playschool engages the kids with. The peace of mind I get from knowing that my kids have something they look forward to doing after every school day lets me complete a full workday without stress. Beyond this, the Playschool community enriches our family's extended experience with the University of Toronto." —Gabby, Playschool Parent

How Does Your Garden Grow?


The Friday before Mother's Day, Iris was very excited to bring home a present for me from playschool. 

"Should I wait until Sunday?" I asked her, but the days of the week have little meaning for a nearly-three-year-old, who is charged with immediacy. 

And so I unpacked my present right away, and she informed me that her little pot of dirt was in fact a seed and that she'd planted it herself.

It's never going to come up, I thought, unconsciously channelling Crockett Johnson's classic children's tale, The Carrot Seed, in the way that adults do. For how can a little pot of dirt possibly be transformed into a flower? Where does life come from anyway?

But for seeds to grow, one needs a little faith, and luckily Iris had plenty. Which doesn't mean that she was not delighted or even blase a week or so later when we discovered that a force through the green fuse had finally driven a flower. Or at least the beginnings of one. 

And three weeks on, it's kept going and going. 

3 wks later

So much love and gratitute to our teachers who plant so many seeds and nurture them so. Turns out water, sunshine, and a little bit of faith can work miracles. 

"One cannot empower a child without embracing her will to fight..."

Photo Credit: Rebecca WoolfEverything I love about Rebecca Woolf's writing is made clear in this gorgeous post that reframes childhood and teenage rebellion

"One of our biggest problems as a society (at least from where I stand) is our willingness to choose "good manners" over "curiosity" when it comes to our children. And our system, specifically our school system, is set up to award those who "obey" with popsicle parties instead or creating safe environments for children to question authority -- question rules -- AND FIND THEMSELVES.

Spending time with a lifetime (self-proclaimed) "radical" who used her body to block trains carrying nuclear warheads, went on hunger strikes protesting Vietnam and once chained herself to a logging truck to protest deforestation, was for me a pertinent reminder that rebellion is often our greatest gift to the world.  WE NEED DOTS on this planet! In the same way we need doctors and lawyers and writers and painters and plumbers.

One cannot empower a child without embracing her will to fight a system that is trying to strip her of her power. This is why toddlers have tantrums. And teenagers hate their parents.

Because, we, in a word, ARE THE MAN our children must challenge and question and, yes, sometimes rail against in order to grow."

Read the whole thing here

(Photo credit, Rebecca Woolf,

Playschool Goes to WeeFestival

Logo Wee FestivalWe're excited that our morning program will be attending WeeFestival tomorrow, seeing the play "Nest" at the Tarragon Theatre. The show will be put on by the company Theater de Spiegel from Belgium.

About the show: In a large, round, snug nest a violinist and a female singer go on a poetic journey of discovery. They seek out the safety and warmth of the nest to hatch their egg, to dream of ducks and to chirp like birds. They learn to fall, to pick themselves up and to fly out of the nest.

Learn more here. 

Other Plans

It's never more true than at Playschool that, as John Lennon sang, "life is what happens when you're making other plans." Which is part of the reason that open-ended play and free time is so important for our little ones—it's space to let their wild imaginations fly. And so this morning, of their own accord, the children decided to build a library. 

Little Library

They made walls and a roof together out of playmats, and took the the books from the playschool bookshelf to build their collection. Some children delighted in mixing up all the books, and others in organizing them, which meant that everybody had a role to play. They even made library cards, with markers and stickers. 

Playschool Library Kids

And then they called in a grown-up, because imaginative play can only take one so far, and these kids knew they needed somebody with full-fledged literacy skills. They all sat down attentively, rapt in literary worlds, as Mimi read them a story. 

Playschool Library

Let's Play Outside!

Our Park

It's May and the weather is beautiful, and while we make a point of playing outside at playschool all year round (and in all kinds of weather too), there is special delight in the returning of spring, sunshine, and the leaves on the trees. We're so lucky that Huron-Washington Park is our park too—such a fantastic place to play. Which makes us think of how blessed we are to have so many incredible green spaces here in Toronto, in the Annex and even further afield. And here are a few of our favourites that are definitely worth a trip. 

1) Jean Silbelius Square: Recently renovated, the new park features an amazing climbing structure for big kids, an enclosed play space for the little ones, and a tap that runs and runs to create the mother of all mud puddles. (Between Kendall and Brunswick Avenues, at Wells Street)

2) Vermont Square: Home of the amazing pirate ship play structure, lots of swings, and a splash pad to cool down with on hot summer days. (Palmerston Avenue, just south of Vermont Avenue).

3) Margaret Fairley Playground: Small neighbourhood park with a whole lot going on, including cool climbing structure, a splash pad, and great big wooden armchairs. (Brunswick Avenue south of Ulster Street)

4) Trinity Bellwoods: The place to be a sunny day! Featuring a great playground, splashpad, lots of grass for picnics, and good places to fetch grub for said picnics on streets Dundas and Queen. (South of Dundas, between Gore Vale Avenue and Shaw Street)

5) Christie Pits: Everything happens here! New playground is coming soon, plus there is a splashpad and four swimming pools which means the whole family can cool down when the weather is hot. Nicely located near Baskin Robbins too on the corner of Christie and Bloor. 

6) Dufferin Grove: Highlights include the sandpit with construction-grade shovels and so much space to build and play, plus climbers, a splash pad, and a cafe that's open daily. This park is a city treasure. (Located across from the Dufferin Mall)

7) High Park: A whole world in the city! Great for garden enthuasists, people who like to roll down hills (just watch for goose poo), see ducks, geese and swans on Grenadier Pond, have lunch at the cafe, visit the zoo, walk in the woods, and play at the incredible Jamie Bell playground. (At High Park Station, south of Bloor Street, just west of Keele)

8) Riverdale Farm: This place is pure magic. In spring, you can catch all the baby animals coming into the world—lambs, goats and piggies, oh my! And then take a walk down the hill to the duck pond and try to believe you're actually in the middle of a city at all. (Winchester Street, 3 blocks east of Parliament Street)

9) Corktown Common: Brand new park on a flood plain. It's worth the trip to get stunning shots of your kids frolicking in the totally cool splashpad with the city skyline as a backdrop. Being a downtown kid has never been so good. (South of King Street, at Bayview Avenue and Mill Street)

10) Oriole Park: A great new playground with a really fun splashpad, all kinds of perfect design touches, and the whole thing is super accessible to children who use wheelchairs and have other disabilities. It's the perfect ending to a walk or cycle along the Beltline Trail. (At Oriole Parkway and Chaplin Crescent, west of Davisville Station). 

11) Toronto Island: You've never had the perfect getaway so close at hand. The Centreville Amusement Park is totally fun, but for a lower key day, picnic on the Centre Island south side, play at the beach, on the splashpad, on the playground, and take a walk in the Franklin Garden. And then stroll along the boardwalk to Ward's Island for ice cream and a walk through the island's picturesque neighbourhood before catching the ferry home. All this, of course, is the recipe for a perfect day. 

Morning Program Fun

When the children in the morning program arrive at playschool every day, they spent the first hour engaging in free play, exploring the many parts of the classroom according to their own interests: drama, blocks and lego, trains, storybooks, balls and physical play, and so many other choices.

In addition to these, our teachers also prepare specially planned activities that the children are free to take part in, and this morning's choices were so overwhelmingly excellent and fun that I had to take a picture. 

Hoofprint PaintingActivity 1: Painting using the prints from toy animals and treads for toy cars and trucks.

Activity 2: The water table is never so popular as when it's time to wash the babies. 

Activity 3: And cutting the grass....with scissors! 

Don't you want to pull up a tiny chair and play too? 

"It takes an imperfect mother to raise a child well."

Happy Mother's Day"What I like about Winnicott’s picture of the good enough mother is that she is a three-dimensional human being. She is a mother under pressure and strain. She is full of ambivalence about being a mother. She is both selfless and self-interested. She turns toward her child and turns away from him. She is capable of great dedication yet she is also prone to resentment. Winnicott even dares to say that the good enough mother loves her child but also has room to hate him. She is not boundless. She is real.

Real mothers are the best kind of mothers (and the only kind!). It takes an imperfect mother to raise a child well. You see, children need to learn about life through real experiences. They need to learn to deal with disappointments and frustrations. They need to overcome their greed and their wish to be the center of the universe. They need to learn to respect the needs and limitations of other people, including their mothers. And they need to learn to do things for themselves."

from Jennifer Kundst, "In Search of the Perfect Mother" at Psychology Today

(Thanks to Playschool parent Ingrid for suggesting the work of Donald Winnacott and the good-enough mother as a great idea for a blog post)

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