Montessori vs Daycare: Differences, Similarities, Pros & Cons

If you are unsure whether to choose Montessori vs daycare, refer to this article. Today, we are going to cover the similarities and differences between Montessori and daycare.

When it comes to finding quality childcare, decisions can be difficult for many parents. A child’s early years are crucial for development and the level of care he receives will have an impact on his future success.

Fortunately, there are options available to provide your child with a high-quality education that also nurtures their social skills.

These include Montessori vs daycare. Montessori is a specific type of education that emphasizes the child’s independence, whereas in childcare there are more rules about when children can go to the bathroom, when they have meals, etc.

Here’s a look at the differences between Montessori and childcare, as well as the pros cons.

Differences Between Montessori vs Daycare

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1) Education Method

The main difference between Montessori vs daycare is the education method they follow. 

A Montessori school will have age-determined rooms where students of different ages receive instruction from teachers with different educational backgrounds and skills. 

Children of the same age will be grouped in a shared classroom, with an adult present to provide supervision and guidance during class time.

2) Rules & Curriculum

In Montessori schools, there are no such things as “rules” or “curfews.” The idea is that rules stifle creativity and cause stress for both the child and the teachers. 

Related Article: How to Choose Between Montessori or Daycare

However, daycare centers will frequently have rules or requirements for your child to follow that may include minimum ages before they can take a certain class, nap time, potty training milestones, etc.

3) Socialization & Nurturing

Montessori schools do not focus on academic achievement. Instead, they place emphasis on self-improvement. 

The aim is to help each child reach his or her full potential, rather than following a rigid curriculum that’s designed only for students in a certain age group.

In Montessori vs daycare, teachers in a Montessori school will nurture the children in their care and encourage them to form positive relationships with other children in the school.

4) Child Focus vs Curriculum Focus

Montessori schools focus on encouraging independence and preparing students to take on life’s challenges. 

The idea is that they will be better prepared to deal with change and responsibility by gaining self-confidence and a sense of achievement.

Daycare centers have a curriculum that focuses on meeting the needs of each child, so they may have strict rules about when children can take a break to use the bathroom. 

They also give more individualized attention to each student because there are fewer students in a classroom, which means children will get less one-on-one time with their teachers.

5) Level of Learning

Montessori schools do not emphasize the academic level of learning like traditional schools. 

Students who go to Montessori schools can often transition to a regular school without struggling with the material or feeling behind the rest of their classmates.

At daycare, on the other hand, children are expected to learn basic skills such as numbers, colors, shapes, etc.

Similarities Between Montessori vs Daycare

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1) Classroom size

In both Montessori and daycare classrooms, there is generally a low student-to-teacher ratio so the students get more one-on-one attention from their teachers.

2) Healthy diets

Both Montessori and daycare centers will usually provide organic food to the children in their care so they will be healthier and less prone to developing serious health conditions as time goes on.

3) Parental Involvement

Montessori and daycare both rely heavily on the parents for participation because it’s critical for a child’s development that they have positive, nurturing relationships with trusted adults. 

It is one of the main reasons that one-on-one time with your child’s teacher, aides, or other staff members will be so important.

4) Safety & Security

Montessori schools are well known for their emphasis on security, safety, and maintaining a culture of trust between teachers and students. 

The Montessori way is to have small classes that help students feel more comfortable, secure, and unafraid when encountering new teachers and classes.

Daycare centers will also be committed to your child’s safety & security and will keep careful watch over the children in their care to protect them from activities or situations that could harm them physically or emotionally.

5) Single-Gender Vs Mixed Gender Classrooms

Montessori schools do not segregate their students based on gender. All children will learn side-by-side in a single classroom, regardless of whether they are boys or girls.

Daycare centers also have mixed classrooms although the ratio may be more heavily skewed towards one gender versus another. This is because younger daycare students might feel more comfortable and secure in a single-gender classroom, making it easier for them to learn and develop.

Montessori Pros

1) Highly individualized education plans

Montessori students are given individualized training that’s different than most other types of schools. 

This means they will learn at their own pace and won’t feel left behind if they don’t progress quite as quickly with some concepts or skills compared to their classmates.

2) Thrives on independence

Montessori students don’t get their work done for them. They must complete each task successfully before they move on to the next one. 

This early encouragement of responsibility helps children develop self-confidence and a strong sense of self that will serve them well in all aspects of life.

3) Emphasizes play & free time

The Montessori way is to provide play-based learning activities that encourage children to spend their free time doing things they enjoy. 

It helps them better engage with the material they’re being taught and learn in a more fun, interactive manner.

4) Uses child-led learning

Children are given complete responsibility for themselves through self-directed learning. 

They will be encouraged to make choices, solve problems, analyze concepts, and become more self-sufficient (which can help them if they ever go off to college or start their own families).

5) Highly academic curriculum

Montessori curriculums are rigorous and heavily focused on academics. The learning objectives the students are expected to meet during their time in the classroom will often far exceed those of public schools or other types of private schools. 

So rest assured that if your child enrolls in a Montessori school they’ll be getting a solid and well-rounded education (which is why it’s recommended for early development).

Montessori Cons

1) Sole focus on academics

Montessori schools are very academically-focused & may not be the best choice for students who need more physical activity or socialization to properly develop.

2) Potentially long school day

Since Montessori learning is all based around individualized instruction, children might sometimes spend an entire day without directly engaging in any type of group learning. 

A typical day will usually begin with a “work period” where the student completes their individualized work (and then moves on to more direct instruction the rest of the day).

3) Less socialization & extracurricular activities

Since Montessori schools tend to focus on self-directed learning where students are encouraged to learn through exploration and play, there aren’t really any group projects or team activities. 

The classroom may also start a little later in the morning or extend a little later into the afternoon for this reason (although some Montessori schools do have recess periods).

4) Costly tuition fees

Montessori tuition fees can cost more than $20,000 per year (which is almost two to three times more than most other private schools).

5) Longer waiting lists

It’s difficult to find Montessori schools that are currently accepting new students. As a result, you might have to wait for an extended period of time before enrolling your child (and even then it could be difficult to get onto a waiting list).

Daycare Pros

1) Encourages self-directed learning

Daycare centers encourage children to engage with their surroundings and learn through play. 

This way they’ll be able to better retain what they’ve learned because it was presented in a manner that made sense for them, their age group, and the activities they were involved in (i.e., climbing on toys instead of listening to a teacher’s lecture about them).

2) Creative problem-solving activities

Daycare centers will help children learn how to creatively solve problems on their own. 

Whether it’s finding an appropriate toy in the classroom or figuring out what toys are still acceptable to play with, your child will have ample opportunity for learning new skills that they can use every day of their lives.

3) Develop effective communication skills

Daycare centers will develop more effective communication skills in children than other forms of education that neglect social development.

A classroom is a great place for them to learn how to communicate with others and more effectively express themselves verbally or through written work and play activities.4) Socialization is a key part of their day

Your child will be surrounded by other children and adults who provide them with the opportunity to develop social skills. 

It includes how to share, communicate effectively with anyone they meet, and consider others’ feelings along the way (which is important for success at school and beyond).

5) A safe place to explore & play

Daycare centers are filled with all kinds of fun things for children to play on, learn about, and explore. 

Whether it’s a jungle gym or molding clay, your child will be able to engage in new activities every day (which is important for learning how their body can move).

Daycare Cons

1) A lower academic curriculum

Since daycare centers focus on social and academic development, they will be less able to achieve the same levels of education as a Montessori school. 

But this won’t matter too much if your child is still young because their cognitive skills aren’t developed enough to learn from the curriculum anyway. 

However, by age 5 most children are expected to be on par with Montessori students, and daycare centers may not be able to accommodate them.

2) Lack of organization

Daycare centers don’t provide the same levels of organization as a Montessori school, so parents will need to help their children prepare for activities and encourage good habits such as showing up to class on time and staying focused. 

Older kids may be able to take on these responsibilities themselves, but younger children will need help with this (and it’s probably best not to let them get away with bad behavior in the classroom or they might make their teachers angry).

3) Lack of focus on visual arts and music education

Daycare centers will be less likely than a Montessori school to emphasize visual arts and music education. 

Now it’s true that there will still be plenty of opportunities for children to engage in these areas, but since they’re not as highly valued as academic subjects you can expect a lower percentage of time dedicated to them during the day.

4) Limited learning environments & activities

Because classroom sizes are smaller at a Montessori school, teachers will be able to provide more individualized activities and experiences for students. 

This means that children will have more opportunities to learn about new things and develop their skills in different areas.

5) High teacher turnover rate

Because daycare centers are staffed by people who may not know exactly what they’re doing or have a teaching license, they are more likely to experience high turnover rates. 

It means that you could end up with multiple teachers for your child in the span of only one year (and since you’re not guaranteed an experienced teacher it can be difficult to know exactly what quality of education your child will receive).


If you’re having trouble deciding between Montessori vs daycare, consider your child’s personality and learning style. Do they like to play and socialize with other kids? 

Or would they rather be alone and spend their time exploring and learning on their own? 

Also, think about how important academic success is to you as a parent–do you want the best possible education for your child, or are you just looking for somewhere to keep them out of trouble while you go to work?

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