Montessori vs. Daycare: What’s the Difference?

Like every working parent, you want to be sure that your child is in the best possible hands while you’re at the office. 

At the bare minimum, an early childhood program should keep your child safe and happy throughout the day. But the best program can give your child the social, emotional, and intellectual tools to thrive. 

With all the fancy terms many childcare and early childhood programs use, it can be hard to tell what they’re actually offering. This can be especially true if you’re considering Montessori early childhood education for your child. In fact, it might seem like Montessori is the same as daycare.  

Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between the two.

What is Daycare?

Daycare is a childcare option that allows parents to have their children supervised during the workday. Some daycare programs are run out of private homes. Others are run out of classroom-type facilities and may be part of nation-wide chains. 

Daycare programs vary by philosophy. Some daycare programs allow children to play in an unstructured way throughout the day, with designated times set aside only for meals and naps. Other programs follow a more structured educational curriculum. 

What is Montessori Early Childhood Education? 

Montessori Early Childhood Education is inspired by the methodology of Dr. Maria Montessori. A famed physician and educator, Dr. Montessori developed a groundbreaking philosophy over 100 years ago that is widely accepted today: Children reach their highest potential when allowed to follow their instincts.

Montessori programs center around intentionally designed play, allowing children to build curiosity, develop confidence, and learn how to learn.

Wait, Did You Say Play? 

Yes! One of Dr. Montessori’s core beliefs is that education can and should be fun. Our learning environments are scientifically designed to be cheerful and welcoming to children, and to facilitate creativity. 

Every learning material in a Montessori classroom is part of a holistic, methodological curriculum: Playing with tiles, for instance, is actually teaching children numbers and math. 

Okay, So How is Montessori Different Than a Daycare With a Curriculum? 

A traditional preschool is centered around the teacher, who leads all the students in an activity at once. At Montessori, we center our curriculum around the child.

Children move through the Montessori curriculum at their own pace, with the nurturing and encouragement of teachers. In this way, children are allowed to develop their individual passions and learning and problem-solving strategies–skills that empower them both inside and outside the classroom.

The independence that our curriculum instills is balanced with community skills such as sharing, table manners, and respect for others. Ultimately, the goal of Montessori education is to prepare our children to become citizens of the world.  

Montessori Early Childhood Education offers the utility and fun of a high-quality daycare. Yet it’s so much more. The scientifically-designed, child-first Montessori curriculum fosters the confidence, social skills, and love of learning that will allow your child to truly flourish.