When you have a child of preschool age, you might find yourself wondering if there was something better than a regular daycare. There are many options out there, including Montessori programs. Each looks the same in terms of function, but the learning outcomes of Montessori schools and daycare are different. So which one is right for your child?
Let’s talk about how Montessori schools differ from daycare, so you can make the right decision.
What is Daycare?
While most people associate the term daycare with children, there are many forms of daycare, including adult daycare, pet daycare, and more. Therefore, daycare is a place where people go when they cannot meet their own needs. A professional caretaker (or several) are available to assist the individual whenever they need help.
A daycare for children is often in a single classroom and has half- or full-day programs available. You can expect the programs to include meals, activities, nap time, and before and after school care.
When you consider this, Montessori and daycare programs seem to have a lot in common. In the US, Montessori schools and daycare have to abide by the same series of laws, such as staff-to-child ratios and food safety. Therefore, it is understandable that you might be confused when choosing between a Montessori program and a daycare.
But there is one crucial difference in these two programs: the outcome. You have to consider how each environment is going to affect the development of your child and choose the one that is most positive.
Montessori vs Daycare: Similarities
As mentioned above, there are a few similarities between Montessori programs and daycare, such as scheduled nap time, before- and after-school programs, and food safety.
Daycare and Montessori programs also have toys and learning materials that are mainly age-appropriate. The classrooms are monitored by teachers (though daycare teachers aren’t always educated and certified), and there is an amount of learning to be expected in both environments.
Montessori vs Daycare: Differences
However, beyond those similarities, Montessori schools and child daycare centers are vastly different. Here is how Montessori schools differ from daycare:
Order vs Disorder
In a traditional classroom, there is a focus on structure but without order. Most daycare classrooms are eclipsed with chaos, with the teachers barely able to control the students during activities. Toys are disorganized, and many of the items a child might be interested in using, such as a cup to get water, are out of reach.
The bright colors, unruly children, noise, and chaos can cause children to become unsettled and unfocused, so they can’t concentrate. Disorderly play leads to messes, too.
Montessori programs have a principle called Structure and Order. While the classroom is far more flexible, the environment is structured to allow for deep, uninterrupted concentration and play. The children are able to focus on mastering a skill, rather than get distracted by their peers.
Daycare either has a strict schedule or none. There is no in-between. Daycare is designed to funnel children through a variety of activities without giving them time to digest the lessons involved. Rarely do children learn concepts at a daycare.
On the other hand, Montessori schools see the value of every moment. From infancy, Montessori programs give children time to concentrate on their chosen activities. Most work is self-directed. Furthermore, Montessori programs tend to keep children with the same teacher throughout the years, rather than switching up the teacher with each grade level.
Over time, students bond with one another and their teacher, helping them learn and develop on a much deeper level. Plus, this gives the teacher time to figure out a customized learning plan for every student.
As mentioned earlier, daycare programs are directed by the instructor. While there is free time for students to explore, the teacher directs everything they do throughout the day. This can restrict a child’s natural desire to discover things on their own time and to concentrate on a single activity.
Montessori preschools are designed to give children freedom within limits, where they can engage in a number of activities whenever they want. This freedom makes each day special and unique, despite the structure. Students use all their senses in the classroom to gain valuable skills in mathematics, language, culture, and more.
Social and Emotional Development
Studies have found that children who attend Montessori programs are able to give more detailed and rationalized answers to social problems. Additionally, children from Montessori schools tend to have better interactions among their peers than those in a traditional daycare or preschool.
For example, rather than getting into an argument, Montessori students would rather negotiate. This shows that Montessori schools are better than traditional settings for developing social competence.
Did you know that Montessori children excel at testing when it comes to mathematics, reading, and vocabulary? This is not the same for students who are enrolled in a traditional preschool or daycare.
Interestingly, there is often a variance between students with higher executive functioning and socioeconomic status. However, since Montessori schools provide individualized learning plans for every student, there is less of an achievement gap. This means that children who come from less well off families or who lack executive function can catch up with everyone else.
Children who are easily distracted or who have special learning needs will do better in Montessori setting than a traditional daycare.
Ready to Enroll Your Child in a Montessori School?
Montessori or daycare? Which one is right for you? Some daycare programs are nothing more than babysitting programs guided by random teachers. Meanwhile, Montessori programs are designed by certified instructors and set up to foster individualized growth. But if you are still unsure, it is best to visit Montessori schools and daycare programs in your area.
Fishtown Montessori invites you to see our facilities and meet the highly experienced teachers. We would love to tell you more about our programs and the Montessori philosophy. Get in touch with us to schedule your tour today.