There are early learning options available for children starting from infancy. Child-care (or day-care) programs are child minding services that provide a learning environment for children while parents are at work, at appointments or busy in other ways. Some parents choose to enrol their children in these programs as an opportunity to socialize and learn. Finding quality child care is important, as it provides reassurance to parents that children are receiving care in a safe and positive learning environment.
Child care can be unlicensed or licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Education. To receive a licence, a child-care program must meet and maintain very specific standards to provide for the health, safety and developmental needs of children. Care is provided by professional Early Learning staff. Informal, or unlicensed, child caregivers are not regulated by the Ontario government and, therefore, are not required to meet provincial health, safety or training standards.
Child-care programs can take place in a child-care centre or in a caregiver's home. Child-care centres can operate in a variety of locations, including community centres, places of worship, schools or other buildings. Some programs offer child care to children as young as infants, through all ages up to school-aged. Some schools provide child care for children before and after school, for a fee. It is important to contact a child-care program directly to find out the services and program ages offered at each location.
The Ontario public school system also offers early learning programs for children ages 4 and 5 years old. Children who are turning 4 years old within the calendar year can attend Junior Kindergarten and children are turning 5 years old within the calendar year can attend Senior Kindergarten. These programs are located in elementary schools. To learn more about Junior and Senior Kindergarten visit the Ontario Ministry of Education website www.edu.gov.on.ca or contact your local school board.