Are you trying to decide which is better for your child: Montessori schooling or daycare? If that sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place.
This article focuses on providing a look at the differences between the two forms of childcare, and is geared toward helping you get your child the right head start for a very bright future!
The Montessori Method
Montessori is an educational method that is based upon self-directed activities, play with others and learning hands-on. In a Montessori classroom, kids are the creative directors of their learning efforts, with an expert teacher at their side to guide the way and offer appropriate ideas for the kids to use and learn with.
Kids work together and explore what’s going on in the world around them to develop their intelligence. You can also find Montessori methods in faith-based programs, so if your family demands a religious approach to learning, there is likely such a program near you.
All materials found in a Montessori classroom support the development of a child and create connections between his or her interests and activities that are available to them in the classroom.
Kids learn through experience, and at a pace suited for them. They are able to respond to whatever’s interesting them or piquing their curiosity.
It creates a desire to learn more and feeds into children’s’ natural curiosity.
This method of learning can be performed at all ages. Here are some examples of what your Montessori teacher’s goals are for your child:
Kids aged 0-3 Years:
- Help kids gain independence in day to day tasks
- Develop fine motor skills, language, and motor coordination
- Create confidence in their new skills
- Encourage the child to trust in themself and their world
- Create and maintain a nurturing and safe place for learning and friendship
Kids Aged 3-6 Years Old
- Help kids find and take opportunities for imagination and exploration which leads to creativity and confidence
- Provide kids a wide range of materials that help them perfect that sensory perception and develop more understanding of maths and literature
- Promote social skills through communication, natural and safe consequences and respect
- Promote independence, self-regulatory behavior and perseverance
Montessori schooling is available for children older than six. However, after the age of 5 most children attend school, forgoing the need for daycare or preschool.
To find a Montessori method school near you, you can use your favorite search engine to search for a place near you. From there, you can call and schedule an appointment to tour the school and get your child in for a visit.
If you like what you see, you can get your child in the next time enrollment is taking place.
Daycare is the method of childcare most parents choose for their day to day form of childcare. Many parents know this method: You drop your kids off in the morning and they are supervised by a team of trained individuals who are qualified to care for young children.
These centers specialize in the care of kids aged birth to preschool age. Some daycare centers also have after-school care hours for children of school age.
Some daycares have schedules which mimic that of a preschool. Others may allow the children to play freely with supervision and guidance from the employees.
Some daycare centers operate out of a home. Others are part of a chain of childcare centers, while others are commercial facilities located near offices and workplaces.
Hours of Daycare
Most daycare hours operate from 8 in the morning to about 5 in the evening, but every daycare is different, and in major cities, 24 hour daycare does exist.
Parents should take a close look at the facility they are most interested in in terms of the hours it operates. The idea is to make sure that it suits your family’s needs.
Daycare Teaching Method
Some daycares are set up to provide schooling for children whilst they are there; others focus on play and interaction with one another. The daycare will be where your child spends a good chunk of their day, so make sure they are placed in a facility that aligns with your family’s values.
You may wish to ask: Does your daycare have kids “cry it out?” Do they use time out as a discipline method? How are acts like hitting or kicking handled?
What snacks will they provide for your child, and will it suit their needs? Or, do you have to pack a lunch each day for your child?
Since daycare methods vary from place to place, ask what curriculum they offer for young children.
Make sure it contains opportunities for kids to perform structured and unstructured activities. They should also have the chance to see and learn new things. You should also ask what programs and activities are used as a means of supporting the emotional, physical and social development of the child.
You might ask the following:
- Will my child do creative play?
- Are there chances for kids to learn music and art?
- Do the teachers stick to an organized agenda, and is there nap time included?
Make sure to keep an eye out while you tour the daycare for indications that it is a place of learning. Art tools, outdoor toys like chalk or sports equipment, water tables, and books are just a few things to be watching for as you take your tour.
Look for red flags, too: is a toddler aimlessly playing with a baby toy? The facility may not be providing age appropriate activities.
Differences: Montessori V. Daycare
Now that you have an understanding of Montessori schooling as well as daycare, let’s talk about five main differences between the two methods of care.
Difference 1: Coordinated Programs vs Play All Day
Some, not all, daycares are a play program. Kids come to their caregiver’s location, are settled in, and begin free playing with toys, the water table, coloring in coloring books or reading to themselves or friends. They just move about and naturally play as kids do with supervision.
This is fine, as children learn through interaction with adults and kids, playing, and imagination and exploration. Kids can pretend to have careers, or make up their own stories and scenarios with toys. Daycare employees freely allow the kids to play and step in to help settle conflicts.
Montessori schooling differs in that the program is self-directed but still closely supervised by a trained Montessori instructor. Kids are taught that they have to put their item away before getting another item out, for example.
The kids are trained that they can do anything they like so long as one of their friends or colleagues is not using it or working with it. If the child has trouble following this guideline, the teacher will re-train them on how to wait their turn.
This is of course not the case for all daycares- but if you would prefer your child follow a schedule, a daycare that allows free and unstructured play all the time may not be the way to go.
Difference 2: Greater Independence vs. Greater Dependence
Kids at Montessori schools are encouraged to be independent. Kids of all ages are able to learn in a Montessori environment. They learn through play, exploration, and interaction with kids of all ages.
They are encouraged to do activities on their own to promote independence, confidence and fine motor skills. Some kids are even asked to help others by getting them a snack or comforting them when they feel upset.
This helps kids learn social skills and what it means to help someone out, among many other skills. They become more independent this way.
Meanwhile, daycares are a bit more regulated when it comes to matters such as this. Adults in charge are tasked with providing students snacks and rest, comfort when they feel upset, and more.
Difference 3: Qualifications Among Teachers and Staff
The staff of a daycare facility often have less training than those at a Montessori school. To work at a daycare, formal education is not necessary. The most basic positions require just a high school diploma as part of their hiring qualifications.
The turnover at daycare and preschool facilities are markedly higher than that of a Montessori school, as the pay is usually minimum wage or above but not by very much. The hours are intense and the work is hard, as children can test the patience of anyone.
Montessori schools differ from daycare and preschool settings in this manner. Montessori teachers have undergone not only their formal college education, but have also been trained in the Montessori method and become certified in the ways of teaching in this manner.
As a result, this training means the Montessori teachers are paid in accordance. These are professionals and also receive benefits and vacation time, which entices them to stay employed at their school.
Turnover tends to be low in Montessori schools, and it is likely the Montessori teacher you’d like your child to meet has been doing his or her job for years. Even if your child was paired with a new teacher, he or she would still have a great experience thanks to mentorship and guidance offered to new teachers.
Difference 4: Kids Leading Activities vs. Adults Leading Activities
The Montessori method focuses on letting kids perform all the activities as a means of promoting exploration, versus adults leading activities they think will be best for the kids.
In a traditional daycare setting, youngsters will follow activities created by the adults versus a Montessori setting, where children are self-directed.
A daycare setting might look like this:
- 30 minutes of playground recess time
- 10 minutes for washing of hands, set up and eating of snack
- 30 minutes for art or creative time
- 20 minutes of circle time for reading
Kids may or may not feel ready to move onto the next activity when it is complete. The child may find that their adult instructor moves too quickly for them to keep up.
Meanwhile, the Montessori method provides a sharp contrast. Montessori promotes building the independence of a child from the very beginning all the way to adulthood. The preschool ages, especially, are a wonderful time of discovery for youngsters.
Montessori schools let the kids pick their own activities and learn on their time. Kids do receive one on one teaching from their instructors, and after that, the child is encouraged and allowed to practice the skill until they are ready to move to the next thing.
Difference 5: Orderliness in the Two Settings
In a Montessori classroom, everything is carefully set up so that kids remain focused on learning and the environment stays, for the most part, orderly and calm.
Meanwhile, daycares are the same way, but lack of structure can mean things get out of hand quickly. Daycares tend to be noisier and it can be hard for providers to keep up with the needs of many children at one time.
Montessori teaching encourages kids to develop skills that help them keep their focus, so they are devoted to the tasks at hand and participate in them with happiness.
Promoting Autonomy At Home
Not all Montessori schools are perfect, and not all daycares are places of chaos and toys being strewn about. Most daycare facilities you tour will be adequate and provide a place where your child can safely learn, play and make friends with others his or her own age.
Meanwhile, Montessori schools are certainly a bit more methodical in their approach, with the classroom being designed just for preschool and daycare aged children. The staff do tend to be highly trained in the Montessori settings, but the same can be said for daycares, too- some daycare websites list their staff and the staff’s credentials.
One way to promote autonomy in the home and get your kids reading is via the Reading Head Start program. This program is amazing regardless of where your kids learn during the day – it has been proven to get kids reading at levels up to five times higher than their peers.
And the children participating? They LOVE the program!
So, the point? There are pros and cons to Montessori and traditional daycare. You just have to choose which one is right for you and your family.