atelier kids

Starting a Reggio-Inspired Center from Scratch with HiMama

Center Name

Atelier Kids Early Learning & Care


Toronto, Ontario

Years in Operation

Currently in development and opening soon!

Center Locations

1 (and actively looking at expansion)



Children Enrolled




Favorite HiMama Features

Everything! “We’re going to be power users. We’re going to be using it and we’ll be pushing you to roll out more features, trust me [laughs].” -Bernadette Testani, Owner & Founder

atelier kids under construction

Deciding to Open a Child Care Center

For Bernadette Testani, opening a child care is not just a business opportunity: it is the culmination of years of different life experiences and learnings.

Bernadette first got involved in early childhood education as a volunteer on her daughter’s daycare’s board of directors. She has assembled a great team around her including her Atelierista (Joan), Pedagogista (Alison) and her Director (Indira). Joan’s background is fine art and design, and a successful entrepreneur in her own right. Alison is an early years teacher and brings experience from living abroad and raising four children. Indira rounds out the team nicely with her global view, passion for education and never-ending thirst for knowledge.

Bernadette, already successful in starting and running child care centers in the Toronto area, is now ready for her next venture — what Bernadette calls her “passion project.”

Joan explains, “it really is quite an undertaking. It’s not just a whim. It’s being built on years and years and years of experience — Bernadette’s in daycare and mine in art and design, Alison’s education expertise and Indira’s child care experience — and together really fuelling that desire to provide more for the children and their families.”

This fresh start is also an opportunity to reflect how Atelier Kids has evolved the service offering for child care providers, parents and active community members.

“We’re not just doing what we did in the past,” Bernadette says. “I’ve done a 180 pivot on what I thought about education before I had my children to where I am now. It’s important to constantly keep changing and growing.”

For the past year and a half, the team has been working hard to get Atelier Kids up and running. This has been an exhaustive undertaking of literally building it from the ground up, designing the center, as well as hiring the right staff, getting students enrolled, and finding the right technology.

atelier kids activity

A Premier Reggio Emilia Offering

From the very beginning, the vision for Atelier Kids has been to provide one of — if not the best — Reggio Emilia inspired child care centers in Toronto.

“We aren’t a babysitting-type daycare,” Joan elaborates. “We are definitely there in our knowledge, in our professional development, where we are exposing ourselves to the latest research, the latest studies, the latest proof that those years from birth to 4 are pivotal in how our children learn and how we’re setting them up for success for the future school years and as future adults.”

To do so, they firmly believe that Reggio Emilia is the best learning philosophy to follow. Unlike other approaches, Reggio is a child-led approach to early learning. Instead of being fed information according to a strict schedule, Reggio encourages children to learn at their own pace and in their own unique way. They had a first-hand view of how successful this is when they visited the schools of Reggio Emilia in Italy recently.

To facilitate this experience and make observations to guide learning, teachers need to make detailed documentation throughout the day about what each child is doing. Bernadette’s previous child care center was an early adopter of HiMama, and so when this new opportunity came along, she knew that it would be the best option to power the documentation and parent communication side of the business.

atelier kids reggio inspired activities

The Importance of Technology in Child Care

Bernadette and Joan know that technology plays an important role in child care, but only if it is used effectively.

“We should be using technology to minimize the work that the teachers need to do — which I consider administrative and not value-added — and have our teachers actually doing what they do best, which is interacting with the children, scaffolding learning, and listening to the child,” explains Alison.

In addition to being crucial for documentation and reflection for teachers and freeing them to focus on the children, parents on their parent advisory board are eager for a communications solution that works for them as well.

“Our parents are demanding it,” Indira says. “Almost all of the parents when we talk to them say, ‘How are you going to communicate with us?’”

Right from the beginning, Atelier Kids will be a technology-powered child care provider. From documentation to communication to payment processing, Atelier Kids requires a solution that will work well for teachers, administrators and parents, and that they can rely on as their business grows.

Launching with HiMama

For Atelier Kids, HiMama isn’t just an app — it’s a key component of their business, and in particular, the very aspects that make their business unique.

“What we liked about HiMama is the progression that’s been made around documentation/parent communication, because one of the cornerstones of Reggio is creating an active community with the parents,” Indira recalls.

Joan adds, “we are creating one of the premier daycare offerings in the West End if not all of Toronto, and we really wanted a premier app like HiMama to help organize our parents.”

With so much careful planning and attention to detail going into the launch of Atelier Kids, they need to have complete trust in the software they choose to record their observations and communicate with parents. From the start, they knew that HiMama is the perfect choice — and we are thrilled to help bring their vision for a premier Reggio-inspired child care center to life!

“This isn’t the type of daycare that you can just open and slap a sign on,” Bernadette explains. “It takes years to figure out core competencies, hiring the educators, and building the building in a particular way. We see HiMama as part of that journey.”

Become a Superstar Center Just Like This One!

In 2021, parents are looking for centers that offer digital parental communication, shared photo and video updates, and contactless check-in and billing. HiMama is an all-in-one app to help you with all that, and boost your enrollment! Get a FREE 10-minute tour here.

Michael Keshen

Michael writes for HiMama's early childhood education blog and ECE Weekly newsletter. When not developing content for early childhood professionals, he can usually be found out and about with his wife and daughter exploring all that Toronto has to offer, or playing music with his karaoke band.