First Impressions: Apple Tree Academy Brooklin

Apple Tree Academy Brooklin

The main entrance of the Apple Tree Academy building is accessible from the parking lot at the rear, where you can find ample parking.

First Impressions, a series about my experiences touring through day cares in our region is back for 2016! In my most recent tour, I visited Apple Tree Academy in Brooklin.

The location for this facility is perfect for parents who take Winchester Road (Hwy 7) to get to work. The centre is located right on Winchester Road, making dropping in to this centre before and after work very, very convenient. You can spot the building from the main road but the entrance is tucked away at the back of the commercial complex. There is plenty of parking available, making drop off and pick ups faster because you won’t have to fight for precious car spaces with other parents.

This is the second daycare I’ve found in the Whitby/Brooklin area that’s located so close to a coffee shop (the other is Helping Hands Whitby). Which, I’m beginning to think is not just a handy coincidence but potentially a great tandem business idea for all other centres with lots of tired parent traffic!

Most centres I visit are a blend of old and new, but this one is so new that you’ll wonder if you’ve walked into a kids dentistry instead. My mind kept wandering as I admired the fresh paint on the walls and colour-coordinated furniture. I spent too much time trying to work out how long this centre has been in operation. On my tour I visited all the rooms in the centre, and was introduced to all the staff along the way who responded with warm smiles. Staff interaction will always vary on any tour, and I don’t always expect everyone to be bright and perky when I meet them. Staff are, after all, working with a large group of kids all day! What I do look for is how staff interact with each other, and in the moments when staff do talk with me, I am looking to see that they do so with confidence and willingly.

Once your child is in someone else’s care, you can expect awkward conversations about accidents, misbehaviour or maybe even developmental issues, so confident communication from childcare staff is something I value highly. At Apple Tree Academy, I was pleased to find that all staff greeted me without being prompted, made eye contact when talking with me and answered my questions with honesty, particularly when asked about transitioning children into care.

Apple Tree Academy is unique in Durham in that they offer three free days dedicated to transitioning your child once you register. These days are intended to slowly introduce your child to their new routine. Day one involves staying at the centre for one hour, day two increases this time to 2.5 hours, and the duration of day three will be longer based on how your child adapts.

  • Apple Tree Academy is open 7am-6pm, Monday to Friday.
  • This centre accepts children as young as 10 months old, provided they are able to walk and eat the food on the menu.
  • The full time rate for senior infants (10 months-1.5years) is $1125 per month. If you are looking for part time care this centre also offers care for half days for all five week days for $720 per month.
  • There are four rate options available for Toddlers (aged 1.5-2.5 years). For full time care, five days a week, the monthly rate is $900. If you prefer half day care, five days a week, you will pay $578 per month. Parents looking for full time care on alternating days will pay $620 per month for Mon + Wed + Fri, or $429 per month for full time care on Tue + Thu.
  • Onsite laundry is not available for blankets.
  • This centre follows the emergent curriculum.



First Impressions: EDUKids St Thomas Childcare Centre

A view of the St Thomas EDUKids location from St Thomas StreetBefore touring St Thomas EDUKids, I always felt as if I had known the centre by association. Talk to enough Brooklin moms (or join their Facebook group!) and you’ll begin to notice a trend. The moms that have sent their kids to St Thomas have only the best things to say about this centre and their staff.

At first glance, this facility feels a lot like an elementary school, more so than a centre. St Thomas is located in the basement of the church that you see from the street, but it doesn’t feel anything like one when you step inside. It’s a large facility with more than six classrooms built next to multiple windows to ensure that each room has plenty of natural light. From the moment you enter through bright entrance way from the car park, you’re greeted by the bulletin boards filled with helpful information for parents and a centralized admin office from which the supervisor works from, similar to what I remember finding at the office in an elementary school.

Now that I’m more familiar with what to expect on a tour, I look for signs that the staff working in a centre enjoy what they do. Staff relationships do have an effect on the learning environment, so I look for clues in how staff act in front of the person giving the tour (usually their boss!). At St Thomas, I stopped by multiple classrooms and chatted with the staff about their interests and their day. They spoke freely and there was lots of smiles and laughs. Seeing staff so relaxed and happy gave me insight into the rave reviews for this centre and in particular, why so many reviews praise the supervisor here. It’s obvious that both staff and parents enjoy the atmosphere she’s created here.

  • Registration fee is $25.
  • The full time infant rate is $255 per week.
  • The full time toddler rate is $215  per week.
  • Upon registration, one week’s deposit is required.
  • Centre is open from 6.30am to 6.30pm, daily.
  • Accepting children from 6 weeks and up.
  • St Thomas Childcare is a Christian centre, meaning that “grace” is said at meals and Christian holidays are celebrated.

First Impressions: Little Orchard Daycare Brooklin

A view of Little Orchard Daycare Brooklin from Baldwin Street

You don’t need a tour to get a glimpse of what makes Little Orchard Daycare so captivating with it’s lush, forest-like garden that overlooks the main street in Brooklin. The large, park-like area out front is used in the summer for it’s soft grass and generous amounts of shade. Out back you’ll find a more traditional asphalt, sandpit and play structure area for children to use on days when the sun is not so strong.

There’s something about this centre that has a storybook feel to it. A big part of it’s charm borrowed from the building, which is a heritage listed property. Then there’s also the staff, who are as kind and warm characters you’d expect to find in a children’s story. The staff I met greeted me without prompting and took an interest in my child as well as me. Upon meeting with supervisor Maria, I warned her that I had a lot of questions and that I might take up too much of her time. She didn’t let me apologize and reassured me that asking questions was important. As a mother herself, she said she understood and was willing to give her time to explain all that she could.

Little Orchard Daycare is a smaller centre, which may be why it felt like it moved at a gentler pace than some of the bigger centres I’ve visited. I’d recommend this centre for families that are looking for the structure of a centre with the feel of a home day care and/or families looking for a facility with lots of green space.

 Accepting children from 15 months and up.
  • Centre is open from 7am-6pm.
  • Full time and part time (3 days) care is available.
  • The daily rate for full time toddlers is $45, part time toddlers is $50.
  • The daily rate for full time preschoolers is $42, part time preschoolers is $46.
  • Your monthly rate will vary, based on the number of days in the month. The rate is calculated using the daily rate multiplied by the number of weekdays in the month (e.g. For February 2016, the daily rate of $45 is multiplied by the 20 week days in the month = $900). This rate also includes tax.
  • Registration is $85.
  • Snacks, meals and music programs are included in the rate.
  • This centre follows the emergent curriculum.

*Post updated on February 24, 2016 to reflect new rates and billing structure for this centre.

First Impressions: Brooklin Mill Montessori

A view of Brooklin Mill Montessori from Cassels RoadVisiting Brooklin Mill Montessori was like walking into a photo I would find on Pinterest. It’s a heritage building for starters, so it has character galore. Like most centres, the classrooms are open and bright but what makes this centre so memorable is the scenery. The toddler (or Pre-Casa) room overlooks a ravine creating a sense of serenity in the classroom. The space isn’t cluttered or thrown together as an afterthought – All learning materials follow Montessori standards and are well maintained by the staff.

The staff at Brooklin Mill were so professional that it made me feel as if their work was a career for them and not just a job. The staff I spoke with were polite, patient with their students and showed a genuine interest in my child. They encouraged my child to try out one of the puzzle activities, and then sat next to him, guiding him through the activity and interactions with the other toddlers there. I was immediately impressed that this staff member was willing to provide me with a sample of how she would interact in the classroom. At most tours, staff can be wrapped up in presenting what they do to the parents that they don’t get a chance to demonstrate what they offer the child as teachers. Brooklin Mill understands this balance and seems genuinely interested in finding a good fit for parents and children alike.

  • Accepting children from 18 months and up.
  • Half day, part time and full time spaces available.
  • Centre is open from 7am – 6pm.
  • Full day (8:45am-3:30pm) rates start at $865 for 5 days full time. If you wish to drop off and pick up outside of these times, additional fees will apply. e.g. drop off at 7am and pick up before 6pm is an additional $320 per month.
  • Lunch is not included in the rate. Fees start at $65 for part time students and $125 for full time students, per month.
  • There is an additional diapering fee calculated as 8% of tuition fees, per month.
  • Registration is a non-refundable fee of $100.

First Impressions: Brooklin Day Nursery

A view of Brooklin Day Nursery from Church Street

Brooklin Day Nursery is a not-for-profit day care that was founded in 1984.

Brooklin Day Nursery is nestled in the historic part of Brooklin that feels closer to the area’s small town roots. The centre is surrounded by a large swath of green space, one of the largest I’m yet to see on my daycare tours. This, along with the plentiful amount of parking available in this quiet residential street is just one part of the reason the waitlist is so long at this location.

The building reminds me of the portable buildings I had at school when I was younger. Don’t let this turn you off. Once you’re inside, the tall ceilings and windows make the space feel more open and bright than you’d first think. This facility has one of the most spacious change spaces for toddlers and infants in all the centres I’ve toured so far. The generous ceiling height, natural light, plentiful storage space and room to move allow staff to help children with ease.

Tina is all the things you’d want in a Day Care Director – caring and genuinely interested in your child. Upon meeting with her I felt at home. I appreciated that she made an effort to disclose information prior to my tour. She made sure that I was aware of the waitlist and was open about rates. In my opinion, staff are the biggest reason that families choose their day care. If first impressions are anything to go by, the staff at Brooklin Day Nursery are a team that communicates early and often. Great qualities that every parent should be looking for in a child care provider.

  • Accepting children from 1 month and up.
  • The infant program is $250 per week or $50 per day.
  • The toddler program is $215 per week or $43 per day.
  • The program rate includes lunch and two snacks daily
  • Registration is $35.
  • Two weeks deposit is required once your child starts.
  • This centre follows the emergent curriculum.
  • Part time and full time care is available.
  • Centre hours are from 7am to 6pm.

What’s On: 2015 Canada Day in Durham

Whether you’re a family that likes to enjoy the day out celebrating with the community, or a more quiet celebration at home, I’ve got you covered with these patriotic activities for 2015 Canada Day in Durham:

A child dressed in a shirt with a Canadian flag holds on to his fathers hands

Have a Canada Day picnic with the family and serve maple leaf shaped watermelon pieces.

Host a play date and dress your little ones in their cutest red and white themed outfits. If you’re looking for inspiration, Carters has a cute Canada Day Collection for girls and boys.

Check out any one of the community events in hosted by the City of Ajax, City of PickeringCity of Oshawa, Township of Scugog, Township of Uxbridge or Town of Whitby.

Make a special Canada Day handprint keepsake.




What’s on this Mother’s Day in Durham

I’ve left the planning of my own Mother’s Day to the very last minute. I know I can’t be the only one – Mother’s Day can be a struggle because we’re so busy putting our families first, even before ourselves. Here’s my challenge for you this weekend. Make this Mother’s Day about recognizing all that you do for your family and enjoy yourself. If you’re struggling for ideas for things to do, I’ve got you covered:A mother and child hold a paper heart together

Things to do to treat yourself:
– Enjoy a gentle yoga class and free cupcake at Rejuvenation Point studio.
– Forget the diet and enjoy a meal at Baldwin Street Burger.
– Window shop at your own pace at the Oshawa Centre and the Pickering Town Centre.
– Splurge on a bottle of wine at the LCBO and enjoy a glass on your deck.

Things to do with your family:
– Pack the stroller and walk along the waterfront at the Kiwanis Heydenshore Park.
– Visit the Bowmanville Zoo and watch the animals.
– Create a mom and baby handprint keepsake at home.
– Enjoy the sun and new flavours at the Gourmet Food Truck Frenzy.


First Impressions: Day Care Tours in Durham

First Impressions: Day Care Tours in Durham

Finding information on a prospective day care can be time consuming and exhausting for first time parents. Not only are there numerous factors to consider, but many providers are difficult to contact, aren’t upfront about fees and tours can be tough to schedule with more than one adult attending.

Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be posting a weekly series called First Impressions: Day Cares in Durham. In this series, I’ll be sharing my experiences touring day cares throughout the Durham region. These posts will include any information you can’t already find yourself online – fees, registration fees, opening hours, food menus, staff members and my take on the overall feel of the environment.

I’ll be looking for your input too – If you would like to request a post about a day care or even if you have information about a day care that you can share with other readers, I’d like to hear from you. As always, feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email at All tips, links and reviews are appreciated!

First Impressions: Whitby Montessori and Elementary School

One thing I’ve begun to notice is how often you’ll find Montessori day cares working out of church facilities. Whitby Montessori and Elementary School appears to be doing the same only once you visit, you truly realise how successful this day care has become. Every space within the building is being used for their programs. It’s easy to forget that you’re even in a church, at times. The cubbies that line the hallways are bursting with backpacks, jackets and children coming and going between rooms for different activities. There’s an energy to walking through the hallway that feels like everyone has a purpose and everyone enjoys being there. The staff member who showed me around greeted all the students by name and they responded in an equally friendly way.

A view of Whitby Montessori from the street

A view of Whitby Montessori and Elementary School from Taunton Road

If their tours are anything to judge them by, Whitby Montessori is among one of the most organized day care options in Durham. Upon visiting, I was invited to relax in a waiting area where yearbooks were provided to browse. Before taking me on a tour of the building, one of the staff sat with me and asked questions about my child and my understanding of  the Montessori approach. At no point I ever felt rushed – I had lots of questions about Montessori and this staff member was happy to answer all of them. I was also provided with a full information kit, complete with a folder, business cards, rate schedule and more. As someone that loves order and organization – this rated very highly for me. I can also see how on the flipside it can appear to be very business-focused, but from the way I saw staff interacting with children it’s obvious that they work very hard to maintain a community feel. 

While it’s impossible to provide all the information there is to know, here are a few things to keep in mind if this is a care option that interests you:

  • Whitby Montessori provides full time care only – part time is not available.
  • The earliest accepted age is 12 months.
  • Hours: 7am-6pm. Drop off and pick up time is flexible.
  • The centre has a very large parking lot. No awkward parking lot maneuvering and waiting in line here!
  • There is a large indoor gym for use when the weather is cold and children are limited to being indoors.
  • Monthly fees are $1245 for Bambini / Pre Casa programs. Registration is $300 and is non-refundable.

This is the first review in the First Impressions: Day Care Tours in Durham series. Did you find this information useful? What information would you like to see in the next post in this series? Perhaps you or someone you know has an experience with Whitby Montessori that you’d like to share?  I’d love to hear your feedback and experiences in the comments below.

Meet local moms of multiples

If you’re a mom to twins or triplets (or more!) keep your schedule open during naptime today and join this local group. When you have multiple little ones to look after all at once, joining a support group might seem low on your list of priorities. There’s always plenty of laundry to do and that coffee isn’t going to drink itself, right? Well, don’t just trust my advice on this – there are numerous benefits to joining a group for parents of multiples.

The Durham Parents of Multiples logo

Durham Parents of Multiples (DPM) is a local not-for-profit organization that exists to support parents of multiple birth children with support, advice and resources. Members can connect with their community both in-person and online, to benefit from access to continuous support. If you check out the DPM Facebook group you’ll see they’re growing quickly at 135 members, which goes to show that there are lots of local families in a similar situation.

Cost: Membership is $35 per year for a single parent and $40 per year for a family. This fee includes a basic membership to Multiple Births Canada.