Goddard vs Montessori

mother using montessori learning with her daughter

Goddard and Montessori are both approaches to early childhood education and care. The Goddard School promotes your child’s learning through discovery and play where teachers guide and identify areas for their development. The Montessori approach is child-driven and therefore teachers follow the child’s own lead for their education. Let’s dive in deeper and learn more about each approach.

What is Montessori?

Most Montessori schools offer pre-school and elementary school programs for children. The Montessori method was developed by Maria Montessori who believed that children should learn through self-directed, hands-on play and collaboration. Schools in the US follow the general principles of the Montessori methods, with perhaps a tad more teacher guidance than the philosophy prescribes to suit our current culture.

What is the method?

The Montessori method is a scientific approach to the way children learn. It values self-discovery and learning through play. The truest version of the method is entirely child-led where adults follow their lead. In practice, in the US most teachers in Montessori settings do provide some gentle direction and set up activities for children to engage with. There are special toys and other activities designed with the Montessori method in mind to stimulate child-led learning and creativity.

Do Montessori students do better?

It is widely believed that Montessori students gain a strong underpinning knowledge of maths, reading and writing from their early years education. The freedom they have to engage with their surroundings and explore, plus the ability to learn by trial and error builds confidence for children. It also provides room for children to be creative. They are less likely to engage in confrontation and have a strong sense of community. These same children can struggle to settle into a mainstream school setting once they leave the Montessori system which ends after elementary school. 

Is it worth the money?

A Montessori school will typically be more expensive than some other pre-school options because of the high quality of the materials and resources they use. Many parents believe that it is worth the extra money however because of the strong academic and developmental outcomes of children in the schools.

It is worth looking into your local Montessori school and weighing up your options before you write it off based on cost. Some schools offer scholarship programs you may be eligible for too.

What are the drawbacks of Montessori?

The most significant drawback of a Montessori school is that they run their course at the end of elementary school. Your child would then transfer to another middle and high school system that they are not used to. This may well be absolutely fine for your child, but many children find the adjustment from a child-led to teacher-led environment to be challenging. Not to say they won’t adapt but that it might take a while.

Here’s an example of what I mean. The Montessori approach encourages children to learn at their own pace and offers long periods of uninterrupted time – this is not usually the case in mainstream school systems where scheduled classes are the norm. Consider preparing your child for a change like this long before they start their new school.

How many Montessori schools are there?

There are around 20,000 Montessori schools around the world with approximately 3000 in the US. That’s a lot of schools!

Pros and cons of Montessori

It is clear that there are benefits to attending a Montessori school for children along with a few drawbacks. Let’s lay out the pros and cons for you to consider:


  • Child-led learning allows the room for each child to learn at their own pace and in their own style.
  • Children who attend Montessori schools usually get a strong academic start and learn to work well within a group.
  • Children are happier when they have time to play and explore. A Montessori school experience gives children the room to do this.


  • It is expensive to have your child attend a Montessori school.
  • Children who attend Montessori schools often find it difficult to adjust to a mainstream educational environment when they age out of the program.
  • There may not be a Montessori school close to where you live and so you may end up with a long and/or inconvenient school run each day.

Click here for a comparison between Waldorf and Montessori education.

What is the Goddard School?

The Goddard School is a franchised school system for early years education that includes preschool. Some schools offer before and after school care programs and vacation camps for older children too. The school is focused on setting young children up for success in education and for their own wellbeing through play-based learning with direction from their teachers.

What makes Goddard School different?

The Goddard school claims to be different from other schools because it uses play and inquiry based learning to prepare children for the future, at school and elsewhere in their lives. Their curriculum is designed for children to have fun and enjoy their time at the school while learning crucial life skills to set them up for success.

What is the curriculum and philosophy?

The curriculum is flexible and play-based to encourage children to get stuck into different activities, tasks and independent play. This way they learn through play and also enjoy what they are learning. Teachers are responsible for setting up these activities or settings for children to immerse themselves into. They use real-life simulations to help children learn rather than a traditional curriculum.

The idea is that children learn basic life and academic skills during their time at the Goddard School and they are prepared for the next chapter once they move on to elementary school.

Is Goddard School expensive? What does it cost?

The Goddard School states that their rates are comparable to other preschool or daycare programs on their website. However, a quick internet search reveals that many parents find the Goddard School to be on the more expensive side. They mention additional costs like meals, baby formula and frequent school events that require parents to regularly pay out extra.

Something else to ask about when you look into sending your child to a Goddard school is their schedule. Some schools offer half-day options while others only offer full-day schedules. This will have an impact on the expense and your own scheduling plans.

Is Goddard School a preschool or daycare?

The Goddard School describes itself as an “early learning institution” and has a strong focus on education through play and exploration. It would not be considered a daycare setting although they do offer places to infants and toddlers who still need to have their basic needs met first.

Does Goddard School have cameras?

Each school is different of course, but the general message from the Goddard School is that there are strong safety measures across the board. This includes surveillance cameras in the foyer and exterior as well as measured sign in and out procedures for all visitors to the school.

Is Goddard School religious?

The Goddard School does not have any religious affiliations and does not promote religion through its teaching philosophy.

How many Goddard Schools are there?

There are currently 560 Goddard Schools across the 38 states in the US serving more than 70,000 students.

Pros and cons of Goddard

There are some clear perks of the Goddard School philosophy for children’s education and some cons that you will want to consider too. Let’s have a look at both:


  • The play-based, flexible learning approach of the Goddard School allows for each individual child to learn and develop at their own pace. The flexible nature of the curriculum allows teachers to tap into children’s interests and encourage deeper understanding and discovery.
  • The Goddard School prides itself on preparing children for the future, including elementary school, through real-life situations and experiences.


  • The Goddard School is an expensive option for many parents with high rates and additional costs to pay throughout each school year.
  • Your nearest Goddard School may not be well located for you and therefore to attend the school you’ll be taking on longer school runs. There is unlikely to be a school bus route for the school so you’ll need to figure out how to get your children there yourself.

Which is better? Goddard or Montessori?

First of all, you know your own child including how they respond in various social situations  and when they’re learning and playing at home. This will help to inform your decision of when and where to send them to preschool. I can’t begin to tell you which is better because every child (and school) is different but hopefully this summary will help you decide.

A Goddard School offers a more traditional approach to education for your child which will better prepare them for elementary school. There is a clear structure but still with plenty of room for play, discovery and child-led learning. They focus on each subject; maths, art, music and so on, with their philosophy at the heart of the flexible curriculum.

A Montessori school offers more role-play, imaginative and truly child-led time. Children lead the way and the adults follow. This approach helps children gain independence and gives them plenty of room to be creative. Many children excel in this setting as they learn to navigate the world on their own terms.

Both schools have a lot to offer your child,  but there are some things that will make you think twice. Base the decision on your child’s needs and how they do with and without a clear routine. Finally, think about how they do with change because at some point they will need to change systems for elementary or middle school and this is a big adjustment for most children.

goddard vs montessori education