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Tots’, unlike many preschools, is truly play-based.  The amount of structured learning is perfect.  Tots’s fundamental philosophy is that children learn best through unstructured, spontaneous, self-directed play.  Developmental psychologists, who have studied the importance of play on children’s socio-emotional and academic competence, have supported this philosophy for over three decades. Many preschools tout that their programs are play-based when, in fact, they impose an unnecessary amount of structure.  The more structured the program, the less opportunity our children have to enjoy independence and to develop the confidence needed to approach complex tasks. Highly structured classrooms begin in kindergarten and continue for at least the next 12 years --why start them at 3?  As our schools become increasingly rigorous (even for the little ones), I find myself ever grateful for organizations like Tots’ that allow children to be children.  My children’s natural curiosity was nurtured at Tots’.  They cultivated self-direction, self-motivation, and a love of learning that they have carried forward into kindergarten and they are thriving as a result.

-Mina Cladis, Ph.D.

 Developmental Psychologist

“We can’t imagine our what our preschool years would have looked like without Tots’ and Chris & Gayle. Tots’ is not just a preschool, it is truly a community that turns into your family. When we first sent our 2.9 year old to Tots’, Rocco was sweet & shy and now at 4.10 he’s bursting with confidence and loving the friendships he’s fostered over the years. I can’t imagine a better preschool & lifelong friendships we have all made while watching our little guy grow from a toddler into a boy! Rocco will be more than ready for kindergarten all because of Chris & Gayle knowledge and patience. Thank you to Tots’ for supporting our child and us throughout these last three years. We love you & you’ll hold a special place in our hearts forever."

-Cristina Buehrer

Tots' Parent for 3 school years

"We love the sense of community Tots‘ has. Some of my closest friends were met during our time at Tots’. The teachers are absolutely wonderful and the classroom and playground has one of the best views in town."

-Sara Horvet

Tots' Parent

"When we started thinking about sending our oldest son to preschool we honestly weren’t thinking about play-based learning versus a more structured academic setting.  Those concepts weren’t that important to us.  We knew what we were looking for, even though we couldn’t at the time (or probably still can’t) put it into words.  We visited all the preschools in the area and it became clear early on where we felt most at home.  Tots’ is a friendly, warm place where our two sons went from hardcore Momma’s Boys to less hardcore Momma’s Boys who were ready to enter Kindergarten.  They learned some Spanish, how to count, the foundations of reading, how to work in groups, lots of sharing and most importantly they learned that they are incredibly important individuals and so are others.  The building and playground provide an incredible atmosphere for kids to feel at home, explore new spaces and play & learn together.  The Teachers are the bedrock for a wonderful learning environment.  They care for the kids with loving hearts and nurture the parents.  We had a great experience at Tots’ and would do it all over again."

-Domenic Napolitano

Tots' Parent

"My son Jack attended Tots’ the school year of 2014-2015. He attended their pre-K program, which was 4 afternoons a week. I could not be happier with our decision to participate and attend Tots’ that year! My son had the opportunity to learn and grow in a small class environment with two incredibly dedicated and caring teachers. It can be really scary leaving your child with people who you don’t know very well at first, but after our first day, I knew it was a great fit. Jack was able to be himself, and learn to make friends and learn in an environment that was caring, encouraging, and loving. I also had the opportunity to serve on the board as secretary that year and attend a lot of the class field trips. Being able to be a part of a co op community was a first for me, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but it was such a positive environment and experience, that I would recommend Tots’ to anyone looking for a place for their child to learn and grow in a safe environment."

-Amanda M. Tyler

Tots' Parent


"When I look back upon our time at Tots’ I feel nothing but gratitude. Both my boys loved going there and I loved being a part of that experience with them. There’s something very special about the cooperative aspect of Tots’. It’s an opportunity I’ll never have again to be truly involved with their school experience at the most hands-on level. And working with the other parents forged friendships I’ll have for my lifetime. We all miss it there and still try to pop in to see the beloved Mrs. Franco and Mrs. Raposa. I cannot recommend Tots’ Cooperative Nursery School enough."

-Kira Cortese

Tots' Parents


"Tots’ was an amazing experience for my children and myself. I was a new Mom and new to Barrington and was seeking a preschool that I could be involved in. I wanted my children to feel safe, comfortable and learn social and academic skills to prepare them for Kindergarten.  After checking multiple preschools in town I chose Tots’ and it was the best decision I could have made for our family.  I cannot say enough wonderful things about this school. The teachers are phenomenal and both my children loved going to learn, play and make new friends. There is a strong sense of family, and I as well as my children made great friends. My son had broken his leg when he was four and the teachers pushed him around in a stroller and went way beyond the call of duty to make sure he felt comfortable and included. Honestly I recommend Tots to anyone looking at preschools, it is hands down the best! My children still want to go back and visit their favorite teachers and so do I."

-Laura Kiinsella

Tots' Parent

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