Huron Playschool Cooperative

The Benefits of Cooperative Preschools

Looking for daycare, childcare or preschools here in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood? There are plenty of reasons to consider choosing a cooperative program likes ours. Here are a few: 

1) Lower fees: ultimately this point matters least, but on a day-to-day basis it makes a huge difference for families. Cooperative duties enable Huron Playschool to keep fees significantly lower than they are for other preschools and daycares. 

2) Educational involvement: Families are able to play important roles in their children's early education, lending their skills and abilities to enhance our programming, and also being able to be witness to the day-to-day happenings (aka miracles) of seeing children learn and grow in a place that belongs to them. The kids love it too—they look forward to their family's co-op days.

3) Community ties: Getting to know your children's classmates and their families is an incredible opportunity, and our families do an amazing job of coming together for each other in times of need. Throughout its more than 45-year history, countless friendships have been forged between playschool parents which are an imporant part of our school's legacy. 

4) Education and skills development: Cooperative involvement provides parents with many opportunities to use and develop their skills and experience, whether it's on our board, in our administration, and in the classroom too. Further, many of us come away from our playschool years knowing we're better parents because of all we learned watching our amazing teachers in action.

5) Flexibility: Our programs are not just for stay-at-home parents. No matter your family's situation, we can seek to find a way to make our cooperative structure work for all of us. We've got uncles, aunts and grandparents who do co-op shifts; families can pay a fee to have their shifts worked by someone in our network of caregivers. Younger siblings become a part of playschool by attending co-op shifts, and we're happy to have them. The benefits of co-op preschooling are enormous, and we want to make the opportunity available to as many as possible who'd like to pursue it. 

Where to Take Your Kids on Authors for Indies Day

Did you know that the second annual Authors for Indies Day is just around the corner, falling on Saturday April 30 at independent bookshops across the country? It's a day to celebrate indie bookstores, which tend to be the very best places in our communities, and some of your favourite authors will be coming out to be booksellers for a day and will happily talk you into buying some excellent books. A truly win-win-win situation. 

And guess what: it's a perfect day out with the kids. And because we are fortunate in Toronto to have an array of stellar indie bookshops across the city with fantastic children's book selections, you have so many shops to choose from. Perhaps venture close to home or to somewhere further afield—maybe its the perfect excuse to visit a new neighbourhood. You'll be promoting community connections, celebrating family literacy, and you'll even have time to get an ice cream cone. Could there be a better day?

And now, in no particular order, here are all the places you can go...

Book City

I'm still reeling from the loss of our Book City here in the Annex two years ago, but the good news is that we still have other locations in the city to choose from, including the Beaches, Bloor West Village and Yonge and St. Clair. Although I'm most partial to the Danforth location, whose kids' book selection is enormous and incredible. They've got lots of kids' authors in their Authors for Indies line-up too—check out the schedule here


Ella Minnow Books

Formerly on Queen Street East, Ella Minnow is now located at a larger location at Kingston Road and Victoria Park, which means you can still fit it into a trip to the Beaches. These people know their stuff, with all the best, latest and classics children's titles. Your children will think they're in book paradise. 


Type Books

Authors for Indies day corresponds with Type Books' 10th Anniversary celebrations. In a decade across the road from Queen Street West's Trinity Bellwoods Park (where you can follow up your bookshop visit with a picnic) they've expanded their store to include the most magical children's selection, complete with bunting and toadstools for sitting. 


Mabel's Fables

Another store of kids' book specialists! Mabel's Fables is two floors of magic (and there's even a cat!). Their selection includes quality books to excite kids of all ages, and their parents too. And afterwards, you can get some lunch on the neighbourhood's thriving retail strip (Mount Pleasant south of Eglinton). 


Bakka Phoenix Books

A little more local to us (on Harbord just west of Spadina), Bakka Phoenix is where you can plant the seeds of literary geekdom in your little ones. This is where my children discovered Zita the Space Girl, so it holds a special place in our hearts. They've got a science-fiction and fantasy focus with great graphic novels and picture books and an excellent informed staff. 



Parentbooks is just west of Bakka Phoenix (at Major Street on Harbord) and while they specialize in books on parenting, special needs and education, they've also got a beautiful selection of mainstream picture books (new and classics) and a perfect chair for a little person to curl up in. It's one of our favourite stops in the neighbourhood. 


Ben McNally Books

Petula Clark said it best when she said that you'll find a place for sure downtown and for me, that place is Ben McNally Books on Bay Street, a block south of Queen. Dont be intimidated about taking your children to a place with such gorgeous chandeliers: the kids' section is amazing and it's healthy for a child to believe she belongs in magnificent spaces. 


Little Island Comics

Part of Mirvish Village (on Bathurst south of Bloor) I sure do hope that Little Island stays local when they find their new location. But in the meantime, they're right here in the neighbourhood and they're a comics wonderland, also with a spectacular stock of graphics-focussed picture books. Get your kids into comics, both new-school and old—they're the perfect gateway to reading! 


Another Story Bookshop

I love the way Another Story (located on Roncesvalles Avene in the west end) so perfectly balances their social justice mandate with being an amazing neighbourhood bookshop...and the kids' section in the back is huge. They've got great kids authors appearing throughout the day; check the schedule on their website for details. 

Lot Full

Sometimes the stroller parking lot gets a little bit crowded...

Mimi Loves: The Subway Mouse, by Barbara Reid

Book Cover The Subway MouseIn this series, our Playschool teachers share their favourites stories to share with children at Circle Time. This time, Mimi recommends The Subway Mouse, by Barbara Reid, a perfect book for city children with their public transit-savvy ways. Among this book's many honours, it won the Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award 2003 and was a finalist for the Governor General's Awards for Illustration. 

It's the story of a little mouse who dreams big and navigates the subway tunnels in pursuit of his dream, a fabled place called Tunnel's End. As appealing as the story are Reid's illustrations which combine her signature plasticine images wtih collage using familiar every day objects whose identification children will delight in—and will quite likely inspire an art project or two. 

Support Playschool by purchasing The Subway Mouse from

Scenes From the After-School Program

Because the action never stops, it's always a bit tricky to get photos of students in our After-School program, but parent Avigail was on co-op duty yesterday and managed to get a few. 

Painting (and getting a little bit messy) never gets old.

After School Students Painting

Conjuring spring with a bit of indoor gardening and planting seeds for pot plants.

After School Gardening

Checking in with Mr. Bubbles and making sure he's had his dinner.

Fishing Feeding After School

And hooray, hooray! It's warming up for outdoor play. (Now come on springtime, keep doing your thing!)

After School Outdoor Play


Table's Ready

On my co-op shifts, I love setting the table for snack, the satisfying heft of all those tin plates and cups, the neatness of their arrangement on the tables, and the pleasure of creating this ritual for our children—breaking bread together is serious business, important and essential to community. And that our tables and chairs are tiny, as are the people sitting down to eat, is no reason not to honour the experience, and be grateful for all we have in each other and the food we eat. Which is why, of course, we always remember to give thanks! 

Plenty the Magazine

I think that our "Cool Stuff Playschool Parents Get Up To" file is my favourite file—and let me tell you, it's full to bursting. This time we're talking about former playschool (super) parent Nathalie who connected with friends Carol and Beth-Anne in a memoir writing class more than five years ago, and they have writing together online ever since. Their parenting blog was reborn last year as the online magazine, Plenty, "for women who like intelligent substance and helpful advice with a side of fluff; hold the judgement." 

The writers' approaches are diverse, and so are the posts (which include pieces by other writers and experts). A nice place to dive in would be with Nathalie's hilarious post on tidy-up guru Marie Kondo, in which she takes issue with the suggestion that books be stored in a cupboard. Pfff. 

And see recent archives for monthly themes on sex and friendship (respectively, obviously). 

Playschool Creations

There was all kinds of creating going on at playschool today. Conventional materials rendered some unique architecture over in the blocks area. 


Artists were hard at work on their paintings. 



And who knew what fun could ensue with children sticking hair curlers to sheets of felt? The creation on the right is a house, by the way. The one on the left is decidedly abstract. 


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