St. Thomas-Elgin is a great place to raise a family. We have world-class healthcare and educational facilities and open spaces and fresh air for children to play, learn, and grow. St. Thomas-Elgin offers the best of both worlds to growing families. On this page, you will find information and links about different services, amenities, and activities for children and families. One of the greatest resources for families in our region is the Elgin Children's Network Portal.
Pre-Natal & Birth Support
Several community organizations offer free or low-cost pre-natal programs and services in St. Thomas-Elgin:
- Elgin-St. Thomas Public Health Unit: Offers pre-natal health classes and services for expecting mothers and parents
- West Elgin Community Health Centre: Check the Event Calendar for upcoming pre-natal classes for West Elgin residents
- St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital: Six birthing rooms are available to local families
Early Childhood Education
From birth to six years of age is an incredibly important time in a child's development. Children should be introduced to new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. Free early childhood education programs are available in St. Thomas-Elgin to help parents promote healthy child development in these formative years.
- Ontario Early Years Centre for Elgin-Middlesex-London: Offers free, publicly-funded programs across St. Thomas-Elgin for children aged 0-6 years
- St. Thomas Public Library: Check the Event Calendar for children’s events in St. Thomas
- Elgin County Public Library: The Growing with Books program provides free books and resources to families with a newborn baby
There are several child care options in the St. Thomas-Elgin area, including private and publicly-funded providers.
- List of childcare providers in St. Thomas-Elgin
- St. Thomas-Elgin Child Care brochure
- Child care subsidy: Depending on your income and other factors, you may be eligible for a subsidy that lowers your overall cost for childcare; however, you must already be a St. Thomas-Elgin resident to apply so ask for more information once you have arrived in the area
Before & After School Programs
Many elementary schools offer on-site child care programs before and after school for a fee. These programs provide busy or working parents with greater flexibility when dropping off and picking up their children. Typically, before school programs run between 7:00am-9:00am and after school programs operate between 3:30pm-6:00pm. Schools can provide more information at the time of registration.
For more information about local schools, see the Education page.
To see local schools on a map, see the Explore the Area page.
Elementary & Secondary School Education
See the Education resource page for more information.
Our communities take great pride in offering children and their families a range of activities, sports, and arts programs. These programs help children and youth learn new skills, make new friends, and gain self-confidence.
Some groups and programs include:
- School clubs and teams: School-aged children and youth can participate in programs organized by teachers and fellow students held either before or after school. Opportunities include recreational and competitive sports teams, music, drama, environmental issues, and robotics. See the Education page for more information about local schools.
- Community groups and organizations: These groups are typically run by local adult volunteers, such as parents and teachers, on evenings and weekends at community centres or at outdoor locations. As a new resident, you are welcome to volunteer as a leader or simply register your children for programs. Some of our community groups are part of larger international organizations, so you may recognize similar groups from your hometown or county. A few examples are:
- Optimist Clubs: Organized sports leagues for children
- Scouts and Guides: Outdoor activities and leadership for children and youth
- 4-H Elgin: A “Learn to do by doing” philosophy to help children and youth become engaged citizens
- Privately owned businesses: Many local residents operate businesses that teach children specific skills, such as karate, dance, and piano.
- For youth and adults interested in science, engineering, arts, and math the STEAM Centre has programs to help you learn and explore. Learn by doing in one of the programs offered at the centre. Join a class, or get a membership to the space.
See Active Elgin for more information about extra-curricular activities.
Things to Do
In addition to clubs and sports, there are many family-friendly attractions and events, from time-honoured agricultural events to cutting-edge technology spaces for children to learn, play, and create.
- Traditional fairs and festivals: Every season, a variety of weekend events are organized by our local farms and orchards to learn about food and animals, play, and shop locally. Fall fairs with rides and games are also annual favourites and are hosted in towns across the region.
- Free fun: All kinds of free and low-cost classes and drop-in activities are available to St. Thomas-Elgin families. You can attend a little or a lot and you will always be welcome. Find free activities in the Elgin Free and Low Cost Activity Guide.
- Innovative spaces: In addition to book clubs for all ages, the St. Thomas Public Library and the Elgin County Libraries have maker space programs for children to learn about new technologies, such as 3D printing, digital media, and computer programming.
For more ideas, take a look at these popular tourism websites and blogs: