Flashback: Charlemagne Child Care Services Play Group

Charlemagne's pre-school programs still has a few spots left for the Fall - I highly recommend the program .  Check out Sara's great post about all their offerings! ~Lara by Sara

Tucked away at the side of St. Peter's Catholic High School in Orleans is one of our favourite drop-in play groups.  Charlemagne Child Care Services houses Charlemagne Nursery School and the Charlemagne Preschool Resource Centre.  Located at 750 Charlemagne Blvd, the drop-in play group, which is a satellite Early Years Centre , is open 5 mornings (9 to 11:30 am) and 2 afternoons (Monday & Wednesday, 1 to 3:30 pm) a week.  Tuesday and Thursday mornings are reserved for caregivers.

The bright sunny space is one of my favourite places to take the boys.  We like it so much that we've been regular visitors since 2007, when my oldest was only a year old.  The centre is set-up much like a nursery school or kindergarten classroom.  There are well-defined activity centres throughout the large room, including an art table, two sensory play areas, a dramatic play centre (kitchen, dolls, dress-up clothes), a play dough table, fine motor activities (puzzles, blocks), an infant area, as well as a small climbing structure and ride-on toys.  There's even a separate room, with a half-door, for children over the age of three.  Within the Kinder-room there are more sophisticated arts and crafts supplies, a reading corner, as well as 'big kid' toys, like Rescue Heroes and doll houses.

Because we visit the center at least once a week, I really appreciate the variety of toys, arts and crafts, and sensory activities.  Each activity area is usually centred around a theme, for example, during the Month of May we made Mother's Day cards, created tissue paper flowers, and used spring stickers and paint markers to make colourful pictures.  The sensory areas are even theme-based: in the fall the kids searched for animals in a big tub of leaves and at Easter they hunted for eggs in Easter basket grass.

The resource centre staff, Sheryl and Catherine, are welcoming and go out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable and part of the group.  There's a good mixture of regular visitors and occasional drop-ins, which makes this play-group a great place to meet moms who have kids of all ages.

Between 9 and 10 each morning the children engage in free play and then join Sheryl for circle and story time.  Sheryl has a great repertoire of stories, songs, felt stories, and finger puppets to capture everyone's attention.  Even the busy toddlers who have trouble sitting still (ahem, monkey).   Bring a (nut-free) snack to refuel after circle time.  While the kids are all eating its a good time to talk to other moms and childcare providers or check-out toys from the toy lending library.  There are three large binders to peruse that have toys appropriate for ages 0 to 5.  We frequently borrow large ride-on toys, which are a hit with both boys but too big to keep in the house on a regular basis.  The centre also has a great resource library with hand-outs on a wide variety of health and parenting topics, books, and videos.

The centre closes for the summer on Friday June 11th and re-opens on September 13th, 2010.  Make sure to check-it out before the summer hiatus: I'll be the one following the almost 2 year old whirling dervish from activity to activity.

Sara is mom to a 4-year-old firefighter and 2-year-old monkey.  You can find her at her blog, My Points of View

Enhanced by Zemanta

KIC Gives Back: Youville Centre & Kindness Week

Every month here at Kids in the Capital, we want to highlight an opportunity to give back to the greater Ottawa community, particularly when there are families in need. This month, we've chosen to be part of a campaign to raise awareness of the Youville Centre's work for Ottawa during Kindness Week. We hope that you'll enjoy learning more about this organization and how you can help! by Diana

On a snowy day in early January, I had the opportunity join two other women, Karen Wilson of Karen's Chronicles, and Andrea Tomkins of A Peek Inside the Fishbowl, for a tour of the Youville Centre on Mann Avenue in Ottawa, in honour of Kindness Week. Youville Centre is “an innovative centre that motivates, educates and nurtures young parents and their children to become contributing members of society.” It’s a centre that fills a genuine and important need by providing high-risk teen mothers with education, child care and support, mental health services, and assistance in linking to various community resources to help them build the skills to move forward with their lives withself-confidence and self-worth. In helping the young mothers, Youville is helping their children, which can be a powerful and lasting way to bring that small family unit in a direction towards growth and positivity it might otherwise have not. This is how a family’s cycle of abuse, neglect, poverty can be changed for the better.

First impression of Youville Centre is of a bright, clean, open space. It’s located in a renovated school building, which seems to suit its needs well. While there’s a dedicated and well-trained staff, it’s clear that volunteers have an important role as well. We were met by Heather Heagney, the communications officer. We began the tour. Our first stop was the gymnasium, which serves as kitchen and cafeteria, large play room for the toddlers, and sorting area for donations. As we continued the tour, we saw the classrooms, which include a kitchen, allowing the teens to learn how to prepare and cook food, a valuable life skill. We saw the counseling rooms and the baby wing, where the children, from tiny nurslings to toddlers, are cared for, fed and taught. If the mother is nursing her baby, she may have leave to come to feed her baby whenever the baby is hungry.

Youville exists in co-operation with a number of community organizations: businesses that provide work-place training, clinics and centres that provide legal, health, education, housing and job-placement services, and local colleges, technical learning centres and universities. There are grant-funded support services as well, such as bursaries provided to both Youville alumnae and to former Youville students’ children for post-secondary education. In providing these community connections and services, Youville provides continuing “after Youville” support to the young women and their children.

Youville couldn’t exist without the support of volunteers and donors, both financial gifts and “gift in kind” – the gift of your time. Please check out Youville’s website to learn about the story behind the centre, to see more photos of the women and children who have benefitted from Youville’s services and to find out how you can get involved.


Diana Coote is a co-owner of Onya Baby, a family-owned company that believes in family, in connectedness and in adventure. The Onya Baby philosophy is that parents can include their babies in everyday life and and show their babies the world. The products that they make are designed to complement the family bond and free parents to live life more fully with their children.