First Impressions: Kendalwood Montessori, Whitby

Kendalwood Montessori

Kendalwood Montessori is located on Consumers Drive in Whitby, close to the 401 and Whitby GO station.

Sadly, the exterior doesn’t do the interior justice at Kendalwood Montessori in Whitby. You’d be forgiven for thinking this centre was hastily thrown together in an old entertainment hall, but in reality this location has been beautifully renovated to suit the school’s needs. Once you drive through the carpark and see the full length of the building, you’ll get a sense for how fast this centre is expanding. Only this year, three new classrooms were completed to meet demand.

Inside, you’ll find some of the most thoughtful touches that easily justify enrolling your child here. For every classroom in the building, you can find full, A4 page profiles of each of the teachers posted to the bulletin boards around the school. These profiles describe the educational background of the teacher, a brief bio and also mention what makes them passionate about working in a Montessori setting. Security is a priority for this centre at it’s multiple entrances, which help to manage the pick up and drop off traffic from all the parents. Each entrance is fitted with a security camera in the entrance way and then again in the areas where the children’s cubbies are kept. After two years of touring child care centres in Durham, I am yet to see this feature anywhere else! Parents are also provided with their own key fob to enter the building, saving staff from interrupting programming to let parents in and out of the facility.

French is provided at this centre and students as young as toddlers benefit, at no extra charge to the standard fees that you would pay. Daily, 15 minute classes are provided to toddlers, which gradually increase as they progress through the Montessori school system.

  • Kendalwood Montessori accepts children from 12 months and up.
  • Centre hours are from 7am-6pm.
  • Full time care for infants aged 12-18 months ranges from $1090-1200, monthly, depending upon the drop off and pick up times you choose for your child. This rate includes a hot lunch.
  • Full time care for toddlers aged 18 months to 2.5 years ranges from $1020-1130, monthly, depending upon the drop off and pick up times you choose for your child. This rate includes a hot lunch.
  • A one-time registration fee of $100 is due upon registration for new students.
  • A $400 deposit is required upon registration. This amount will be deducted from the June tuition.
  • This centre accepts students for full time care, only.
  • All program costs – French, Music, Gym and field trips are included in the above fees.


First Impressions: Royal Pine Montessori Academy

Royal Pine Montessori Academy is new to Durham so a quick search for reviews won’t yield much. Open since September last year, this gorgeous facility operating out of downtown Whitby is one that I’m sure will build a good name for itself. If you find yourself falling somewhere between loving the day care centre model but preferring the look of a home daycare environment, this option could be for you. At Royal Pine what stood out for me was the staff. After meeting Jamar for my tour, I can understand why one of the parents followed him from his last workplace to here – he’s one of the few childcare professionals I’ve met with a truly vibrant energy and passion for education.

A view of Royal Pine Montessori from Ash Street, Whitby

In any tour, it’s important to ask any burning What-if questions to get staff out of tour mode and get a sense for how they handle issues day to day. In most cases, the answers most centres provide are the same. What I look for is the way staff answer to learn more about their personalities. At Royal Pine, I asked what would happen to my child if I had a GO Train delay that caused me to be late. Jamar was nothing less than professional when he explained that many of the parents he worked for have been in similar situations and in those cases, he makes do. No hesitation in his response, no guilt trip, no long-winded warning about arriving late in unforeseen circumstances – only professionalism, understanding and a promise that my child would be cared for regardless of the situation.

The facility is every bit as historic and homely inside as it is, outside. The backyard is lush and green, covered in grass with lots of shade from mature trees. The toddler room is located on the main floor of the building and is connected to a kitchen where lunches will be prepared, on site. I say – will be – as the toddler program has not yet opened. Royal Pine is accepting applications and plans to begin this program within the next few months or earlier, based on demand.

  • Registration is $150.
  • Accepting children from 18 months to 6 years.
  • Open from 7am to 6pm.
  • Full and part time care available.
  • Toddler program fees start at $675 for part time care (3 days, 9am-3.30pm) and start at $950 for full time care (5 days, 9am-3.30pm).
  • Lunch fees are additional.
  • MACTE accredited teachers.
  • French, Gym and Music programs included.

10 things you’ll notice when touring a Montessori day care

It’s impossible to avoid hearing about Montessori in your research for childcare, even if you aren’t looking for it. The term will pop up in conversation with other parents, appear in search results and you may even begin to notice Montessori centres around town. The positive reviews that I found were compelling and even after reading everything I could get my hands on, I still felt like I only had a vague idea of what Montessori entailed. I set out to find out more about what made so many parents passionate about the Montessori approach in developing independence, self-discipline and concentration.

Montessori learning materials placed on a bookshelf low enough for toddlers to reach

These are just some of the Montessori learning materials you can expect to find in a toddler program

Montessori is an educational approach that is distinct from traditional daycares (which have their own, differing approaches too). The confusion about Montessori exists because many centres use the term Montessori to describe what they offer, without adhering to the standards set by the CCMA (Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators). This organization requires that it’s members (Montessori day care providers included) commit to a consistent standard of practice and authentic application of the Montessori philosophy. Touring a CCMA certified centre will help you to best understand what Montessori can offer your child and make an informed decision. A tour of a Montessori centre will also provides a good point of reference for other childcare options that you may consider, if you find yourself curious and wanting to know more. After visiting multiple Montessori centres in Durham, I found these ten things in common with each:

  1. Learning materials aren’t like the Fisher and Price toys at other centres. Bright coloured, wooden learning materials are typically associated with Montessori. Each design is carefully chosen to engage all the senses and build preparatory skills for further education. Learning materials support all educational areas in the classroom, including language, math, the environment, culture, music and practical life skills.
  2. The environment feels academic. All activities follow a process – Materials are arranged on a mat, checked when completed and returned to their original place. Uniforms can be a requirement for students, even as early as toddlers. Learning materials are designed to teach preparatory skills, so that once something has been mastered, the next task that they attempt will build on the learning that they completed first.
  3. It never gets too crazy or loud. The Montessori approach teaches students mindfulness to the environment around them. Good social behaviour is encouraged, especially manners. Even late in the afternoon you can expect to see children working peacefully on tasks and be able to hear music playing softly in the background.
  4. Learning also involves real-world objects. To teach practical life skills, activities use objects that a child will encounter in their everyday life. Activities can range from spooning seeds from one bowl to another, learning how to master using buttons or pouring water from a jug.
  5. Students are treated as capable from the get-go. Independence is encouraged, so children are never babied. Staff will always encourage students to learn self-care skills, like washing hands and cleaning up after themselves if a student shows signs of being ready.
  6. Order is a huge part of the classroom design. Rooms are organized into learning areas, and activities are designed to be completed from left to right. Classroom environments are well cared for and all items are always returned neatly.
  7. Individual learning is emphasized. Group activities like Circle Time are a part of the children’s day, but for the most part students work individually because they’re encouraged to interact with activities that take their interest. This is different to what I saw in traditional centres where a group of children would frequently work on the same activity together. In the Montessori classroom you’ll often see one child working on a language activity, while another works on a task that is at a different level and/or subject.
  8. Respect for learning materials. Importance is given to using learning materials with care and for their intended activity. For example, the wooden blocks representing mathematical units will never be used for building towers or as a toy to throw around the room.
  9. Scheduling mirrors the school system. A “full day” runs from 9.00am-3.30pm and any care required outside of those times is extra. Extra time, extra cost. In comparison, a traditional centre charges one fee for drop offs and pick ups at any time within centre opening hours. Montessori centres observe school year calendars and switch to a different program over the summer (July-August).
  10. Fees cost more than most daycare centres. This will depend a lot on your circumstance – What you pay will vary on the drop off and pick up times that suit you. A drop off time of 7am will generally cost more than a drop off time of 8am, and lunch fees are additional. I’ve found that Montessori centres can cost approximately $200-300 more than a traditional day care centre.

If you are curious about Montessori, I strongly suggest touring at least two different certified centres. I’ve visited multiple accredited centres and felt differently each time. Staff can make a huge difference, so give yourself some room to learn if Montessori could work for your child. If you find that you like one aspect of what you find in a Montessori daycare but not others, talk it over with potential care providers. They’ll be quick to point you in the right direction and let you know if their centre is one that’s suited for you.

The Montessori vs traditional education approach can be a heated one, and I’ve done my best here to report on what I’ve found. Do you have a different perspective that you can offer to another parent? What did you find in your own research that helped you decide?


First Impressions: Marigold Montessori

Marigold Montessori is best described as the kind of day care centre you’d expect to find in a small village, only in a convenient downtown Whitby location. Standing at the entrance to the centre at the back of the church, it’s hard to believe that you’re even close to the bustle of downtown Whitby. The fenced-in yard is covered in neatly trimmed grass, away from the main street. Inside, there’s a small but dedicated staff who work closely together and run a variety of concerts throughout the year for parents and children to enjoy. A few of the staff members that I met on my tour had been working at this location for more than seven years.

Marigold Montessori as seen from Dundas Street in Whitby

Marigold Montessori is located in the All Saints Anglican Church on Dundas Street.

You’ll find the entrance at the back of the church, next to the area for parking and the yard. This entrance connects to stairs that will take you down to the basement level of the church where the centre is located. Once you arrive, the pride of ownership is immediate. The facility is immaculate. At no point in any tour was I expecting to see perfection in the way a centre is kept clean. If I was, this would be the place to beat. All Montessori learning materials are neatly stacked on shelves and not once did I ever see a dusty corner or shelf.

What I like about this centre is that children are exposed to music, French and sign language programs in addition to their regular classroom schedule. I spoke to the sign language program instructor and without my asking, she made a comment that the children at this facility were among the best behaved that she’s ever worked with. I would never have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. The energy here is a lot more subdued and mature than other centers that I’ve visited, with an even mix of children of all ages up to five. If your child thrives in a structured and personal environment, this option could be the one for you.

  • Accepting children from 18 months onwards.
  • Part time and full time care available.
  • Parking is easy to access with more than 8 spaces available.
  • Fees start at $330 per month for three half days per week and goes up to $1,000 per month for five full days (for children starting at age 18 months in the Pre-Casa program).
  • Full days begin at 9am and end at 3.30pm.
  • Additional time between 7-9am and 3.30-6pm is billed in 15 minute increments at a fee of $2.50.
  • Registration is $50 and is non-refundable.