As a stay at home mom now, I have found that in order for me to get through a day with my sanity intact, the kids and I have do at least one activity out of the house. But I found the cost of these activities adds up fast and I struggled to find a variety of activities that were fun and stimulating for the kids but also easy on the wallet. And then I stumbled upon Ontario Early Years!
Across the whole province, Ontario Early Years provides FREE parented classes and activities for children from birth to age 6. Some of them require pre-registration but many are simply drop-in, which is very convenient for for a young family’s varying schedules.
Their activities can include:
- Play groups (with activities like the ones pictured above) for a range of ages up to 6 years
- Classes to teach parenting skills
- Singing and story time groups
- Play gyms for active play
- Infant Massage classes
- Breastfeeding support
- Baby and Me Yoga
- In the summer they take advantage of the warm weather and travel to different local parks each day
- Each region offers their own unique classes
You can find the calendar of activities in your region on their website.
The website also has many online resources to help with your growing child which are categorized by age. There is also a list of government resources, what to expect in the age developmentally and how you can aid them in achieving their milestones.
Ontario Early Years: Pros
- IT’S FREE!
- The instructors and teachers are amazing! They make sure they take the time to get to know your child’s name AND remember it for the next time they see you. They are very helpful when you are trying to juggle a screaming baby and a toddler tantrum!
- There are many locations so chances are there is at least one close to your house
- Offers quite a bit of variety and learning opportunities for your child
Ontario Early Years: Cons
- The website is horribly confusing and does not describe the activities offered. If you are lucky you will be able to find your region’s calendar but then unless you have been to the activity before you won’t have much of an idea what it is about before arriving. I have found there are also obsolete links and duplicate classes listed to add to the mess. To keep my life easy I just bookmark the calendar. It changes every month so its easier to do that than download it. They also have calendars for pick up for the locations.
- At times the Early Years Centres become a place for home daycare providers to dump their kids so they can socialize with other adults. As these ladies talk their poorly supervised children become disruptive and can take away from your child’s experience. This doesn’t always happen but I have seen it a few times, enough to comment on. Of course this is not always the case though. Many daycare providers are very attentive, but the bad apples can sour your whole experience that day.
According to Amanda… the verdict is:
I highly recommend! It is not often that something is free when you would quite willingly pay for their service! I would give their classes a perfect score but because their website is so insanely confusing, new parents would have a hard time understanding what to choose. I would see that it would prevent many from trying unfortunately.