Canadian Daycare & Activity Choices

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Canadian Daycare Activities

Popular daycare activities in Canada include music, reading, and gardening.


  • There are 39,051 daycare childcare establishments throughout Canada and 99% of them have less than 100 employees.
  • There is no national system in place for Canada's Daycare Programs.



  • Also known as play-based learning, offer the development of social skills and a love of school amongst young citizens and makeup 24% of the childcare centers in Canada.
  • The YMCA is one of Canada's oldest and largest non-profit daycare programs with over 290 centers across the country and offers play-based learning, popular activities at these centers include music, playing with sensory materials, and visual art stimulation.


  • Also known as early education and is the most structured of the daycare types, they aim to teach early learning and school activities and makeup 36% of preschools.
  • 72 public schools across Canada have added Early Learning Preschool Programs to their schools and popular activities throughout them include reading time, science through observation, and outdoor learning that involves interacting with nature.


  • Focuses on child-based learning and makeup 30% of daycare facilities in Canada.
  • TMS is one of the largest and oldest Montessori schools in Canada with 2 campuses and over 700 students, including preschool-age students.
  • Music for daycare students has been and continues to be an important activity as are puzzles.
  • Other Montessori school activities include gardening, manipulative puzzles, and uninterrupted work time.


  • This is a one on one daycare approach with teachers and preschoolers choosing tasks together and makeup 8% of preschools.


  • Waldorf schools focus highly on the arts and play-based learning and account for just 2% of daycare.


  • There are also religious and community-based preschools which often have a lot of parents and family involvement and make up less than 2% of the daycare in Canada.


  • Regardless of the type of daycare, basic concepts are being taught that include math, literacy, science, creative arts, and social skills — but how each school teaches these concepts may be different.
  • Some common ways to teach these methods include: arts and crafts, discussion groups and circle time, music and dancing, social games, and science exploration such as gardening.


We began our research by determining the number of preschools in Canada and discovered that the total was 39,051. Then, we looked for the types of preschools and their regulations in Canada to obtain some beginning insights into the types of activities being demonstrated, to determine popularity. We discovered that there is a range of different types of preschool programs available in Canada which include: playschools, academic, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and religious preschools. Each one of these programs has a different method of teaching preschool-aged children and therefore would have different popular activities being used to teach the basics of the curriculum which includes math, literacy, science, creative arts, and social skills. We determined that the three most popular program types based on disruption in the number of preschools were play-based, Academic and Montessori schools with 24%, 36%, and 30% disruption respectively. Then, we broadened the research criteria to obtain further insights for the client, on the types of popular activities available for each program based on the number of schools which use them.
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Canadian Daycare: Demographic Profile of Parents

Some examples of the most popular daycare activities that are available in Canada are theme-based learning exercises, singing, color recognition games, imaginative play, and art & craft. Typically, Canadian mothers aged between 29 to 35 and fathers aged between 33 to 39 would choose to enroll their child in a day program or activity. It was found that the average fee for a daycare program in Toronto is $1,685 per month for an infant and $1,367 per month for a toddler.

Most Popular Daycare activity

  • Among the numerous types of daycare programs in Canada, the most popular types of programs are play-based and academic. Play-based programs are designed to help toddlers develop social skills through a small number of structured activities. Academic programs are more structured and are designed to focus more on developing early learning abilities.
  • According to a report published by OurKids, over 24% of the daycare schools in Canada adopt play-based programs while 36% of daycare schools adopt a more academic approach.
  • Play-based programs focus heavily on activities that inculcate social interaction, movement, imaginative play, and arts and crafts. This program is built primarily around "uninterrupted blocks of play time".
  • Academic programs in daycare centers provide direct lessons to toddlers and focus on a curriculum-based learning structure. Other pedagogical approaches include theme-based learning where activities are based on themes such as seasons, animals, and colors and experimental learning where activities are designed to include both environments, indoors and outdoors.

Parent Age

  • According to the Fertility: Overview report, the average age of Canadian mothers at first birth was 29.2 years in 2016 while the average age of fathers at first birth was 32.2 years in 2016.
  • The Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements report revealed that over 60% of children under six years are enrolled in some form of informal or formal childcare. Therefore, the average age of mothers who would choose to enroll their child in a daycare program would be between 29.2 years to 35.2 years and the average age of fathers would range between 32.2 years to 39.7 years.

Parent Gender and Income

  • 76% of the lone-parent families are headed by women.
  • According to the income statistics of Canada, the median total income for couple families with adults aged between 25 to 34 was $83,660 in 2017. The report also reveals that lone-parent families with adults aged between 25 to 34 recorded a median total income of $32,540 in 2017.

Money spent in Daycare by parents

  • The annual report published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on Child Care revealed that Toronto tops the list in the highest fee for daycare and preschool categories, followed by Mississauga and Hamilton. The following are the median fee that parents spend in enrolling their infants and toddlers in different daycare programs across the top 10 priciest Canadian cities.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Toronto are $1,685 and $1,367 per month, respectively.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Mississauga are $1,591 and $1,269 per month, respectively.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Hamilton are $1,497 and $1,156 per month, respectively.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Kitchener are $1,495 and $1,139 per month, respectively.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Vaughan are $1,411 and $1,204 per month, respectively.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Vancouver are $1,400 and $1,407 per month, respectively.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Markham are $1,370 and $1,130 per month, respectively.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Richmond are $1,335 and $1,200 per month, respectively.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Burnaby are $1,260 and $1,200 per month, respectively.
    • The median daycare fee for infant and toddler programs in Surrey are $1,229 and $1,250 per month, respectively.

Time spent by kids in Daycare

  • Most parents in Canada prefer to enroll their children in full-time daycare programs. Children tend to spend over 30 hours per week in full-time daycare programs.

Research Strategy

We began our search by looking for some of the most popular activities offered by leading daycare centers in Canada such as St. Matthews. We also looked into government databases such as Statistics Canada for information pertaining to parents' average age and income. A thorough search through these channels provided us with the most popular daycare activities, the median age of a parent (both male and female), and the average income of parents within the required age range (25 to 34 years). To find the cost spent on daycare by parents, we looked through industry-specific reports published by organizations such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. An extensive search through these channels provided us with data on the median cost of daycare programs by city.

We then extended our search to include daycare blogs, parental websites, media and research reports on the subject from websites such as Pew Research and PR Newswire to determine how much time children spent in daycare programs and which parent gender has a stronger influence in making daycare program decisions. While the information on the time spent by children in daycare programs was available, there was no information regarding the parent gender with the most influence. During our search we were able to find the segregation of the types of families who raise children — 66% of married-couple families, 18% are living common-law, and 16% are lone-parent families and stepfamilies.
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Canadian Daycare Activities: Part-time vs Full-time

The most recent data about how many kids are in part-time versus full-time daycare in Canada dates back to 2011, as there appears no recent data published in the past 24 months on the same. Using the available statistics for 2011, full-time daycare enrollment in 2011 reached approximately 3,364,407 to 5,383,051 kids versus 2,242,938 to 3,588,700 kids enrolled in part-time daycare.


  • About 60% of Canadian parents relied on full-time daycare for their children in 2011, according to the most recent data available. 40% of parents relied on part-time daycare.
  • For children under the age of four, 70% of parents use full-time daycare for their kids.
  • In 2011, about 3,364,407 to 5,383,051 kids were enrolled in full-time daycare in 2011 according to calculations supported by the 2011 data, while another 2,242,938 to 3,588,700 kids enrolled in part-time daycare.


Extensive searches across various industry-related databases and websites confirmed that the most recent data available on full-time versus part-time daycare services in Canada was for 2011. Therefore, the figures presented above reflect how many kids enrolled in part-time versus full-time daycare in 2011. The figures are published by the General Social Survey (GSS), which is held in Canada every few years. The survey gathers data on different questions, including some about daycare services and activities. The latest GSS data on daycare is from 2011, as indicated in the first and second sources, which link to the Statistics Canada database.

According to the second source, daycare data for Canada was last collected in 2011. However, in 2017, more family-related data was collected, but it was not daycare information. Searches aimed at trying to find new survey data by GSS were unsuccessful. Therefore, this attempt also confirmed that the most recent data on daycare enrollment rates in Canada is from 2011.

Next, based on the statistics recovered, calculations were initiated to provide estimates of both part-time and full-time daycare enrollment. For consistency, only 2011 data was used, including the percentages of part-time and full-time. According to the GSS data, 60% of parents used full-time daycare services in 2011, while 40% used part-time daycare services.

Therefore, 60% of 5,607,345 (kids under 14) used full-time daycare services, which translates to 3,364,407 kids. Then, we calculated the highest figure assuming an average of 1.6 kids per family. Thus, 3,364,407 × 1.6 kids per family = 5,383,051 kids in daycare (high figure)

Next we subtracted the full-time kids enrolled in daycare to remain with the figure for those who enrolled in part-time daycare services, i.e., 5,607,345 – 3,364,407 = 2,242,938 (low range). We again multiplied that number by the average number of kids per family. 2,242,938 × 1.6 = 3,588,700 (high range). Due to the lack of accurate statistics from the Canadian government statistics database and the GSS survey, it was necessary to provide an estimated range of daycare versus part-time. The data used in the calculations was found in Canada Statistics website and a CBC Canada report.