Goddard vs Montessori – Do Differences Matter!?

girl with books

Choosing the right school for your little one’s first step into schooling can be overwhelming. When it comes to looking at the different educational philosophies, you could be facing a decision between Goddard vs Montessori preschools. What sets these two schools apart and do the differences matter?

Goddard offers a traditional approach to early education with a focus on STREAM subjects. Their curriculum is a blend of child-led learning and teacher guidance. The Montessori educational approach is child-driven, encouraging self-guided learning with teachers following the child’s lead. 

Read on to find out more about these two schools and their educational approaches to find out if the differences do matter! 

What is Goddard school?

The Goddard schools operate on a franchise model. Their curriculum is called F.L.E.X. (Fun Learning Experience), designed to let your child explore their own interests while learning in a safe and nurturing environment. Teachers guide them gently through the learning experience. 

The curriculum, compiled by a team of early education experts, equips your preschool child with developing skills for long-term educational success. Crucial life skills are also learned. The curriculum is continuously revised, keeping up-to-date with the latest developments in early childhood education. 

Goddard schools use an all-around approach to preschool education, giving your child adequate and age-appropriate exposure to STEAM education (sciences, technology, engineering, arts, and math) while also building on reading skills.

Your child is treated as an individual with unique abilities and they’re always encouraged to think outside of the box. Goddard schools cater to children from six weeks to six years old

How is a Goddard school’s classroom organized?

Each Goddard classroom is bright, cheerful, and equipped with the following:

  • Group tables
  • Artwork, posters, and maps on the walls
  • Interactive play rugs
  • Easily accessible toy shelves
  • Mock play stations such as kitchens 
  • Whiteboards
  • Age-appropriate technology equipment
  • Cubby holes and hooks (for your child’s personal belongings)

A Goddard school’s classroom is designed to support the F.L.E.X. learning program, encouraging your child to have fun while learning academically, physically, emotionally, and socially. The classrooms are innovatively designed, to support different age groups and their specific developmental stage. 

Activities (curriculum) for kids in a Goddard preschool

The Goddard learning plan incorporates a range of activities. Social learning activities are also part of the curriculum, supporting the school’s Life Lesson Library program. This program is designed to grow your child’s social-emotional skills

Some of the activities you can expect your preschool child to do while attending a Goddard school include:

  • Grouping and counting numbers 
  • Reading and vocabulary development
  • Musical games and singing 
  • Pretend to play with props
  • Arts and crafts
  • Age-appropriate technology
  • Free and outdoor playtime

These activities and many others, support your child’s early childhood development in a fun and educational manner giving your kid a well-balanced learning experience. 

How many Goddard schools are there?

There are over 560 Goddard schools throughout 38 states of the United States, with over 70,000 students in total.

Are Goddard schools religious?

Goddard schools don’t align themselves with any particular religion. The subject isn’t included in the school’s curriculum and is therefore not taught in the classroom. 

Does Goddard school provide meals?

Goddard schools do provide meals that are nutritious and are guided by the USDA preschool health recommendations. The schools also discuss your child’s feeding requirements with you. It’s important to note, that as these schools are part of a franchise, the meals provided may vary depending on the locations and school management. 

Pros and Cons of Goddard schools

When deciding if a Goddard school is the right preschool for your child, I’ve summarized a list of pros and cons:


  • Traditional and balanced learning approach: Your child will receive an all-around education while benefiting from the STEAM approach. You can rest assured your child will be well-prepared for further schooling when they leave preschool. 
  • Age-appropriate technology: Your child will be introduced to technology through using equipment such as tablets. Interactive screen time is also part of the learning program (an example of this would be using a toy for Montessori learning for kids as a way of introducing children to digital technology in education). 
  • Child-led learning with teacher guidance: Children will be able to learn and discover at their own pace under the gentle guidance of a skilled teacher. This flexible approach encourages your child’s uniqueness while helping them explore at a deeper level.


  • Quality may vary: Operating on a franchise model means each school may be slightly different in the way it’s managed. This could lead to one school offering lower quality compared to another in the Goddard system.
  • Expensive: The fees are slightly higher compared to other preschools and additional costs are incurred for school meals, extra activities, and school events.
  • Location: The closest Goddard school may not be in your local area requiring you to drive further for your child to attend one of these schools. 

What is a Montessori school?

Montessori schools have a long history in education, being first founded in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori who was asked to create a childcare center in a low-income area of Rome. An Italian educator, physician, and scientist, Dr. Montessori developed a curriculum allowing the child to have a hands-on learning experience, independently. 

Based on the success of her first childcare center, Dr. Montessori went on to create unique learning programs that cultivated the child’s natural desire to learn and develop skills. These programs continue to run in Montessori classrooms today. 

Each Montessori school is run independently or can be funded by public funds. The schools may also be accredited by national organizations such as the Association Montessori Internationale – USA (AMI-USA). These organizations ensure accredited schools align themselves with the principles of Montessori education. 

The Montessori curriculum is designed in such a way to encourage your child to learn through self-discovery, picking their own activities and working at their own pace. Huge emphasis is placed on independent work with the teacher offering gentle guidance. 

Montessori schools cater for children from 15 months to 18 years old. 

How is a Montessori school’s classroom organized?

Montessori classrooms are organized to accommodate mixed-age groupings in three-year stages. This encourages your child to learn naturally while progressing into new developmental stages when they’re ready. The classrooms are designed to include as much natural lighting as possible, with lots of space for your child to move around freely.

The walls aren’t as colorful or adorned with posters and artwork compared to more traditional schools but this is to avoid distractions, especially in the younger age group. Different stations with various activities are set up around the classroom, allowing your child to move between them while choosing what they want to engage with. 

A typical Montessori classroom could have the following:

  • Areas with interactive hands-on activities
  • Reading spaces with comfortable cushions or small chairs
  • Roll-out mats for children to do individual work
  • Stations with props for imaginative or role-play

The aim of these classroom designs is to expose your child to self-guided learning while building their attention and concentration span using self-correcting materials. 

Activities (curriculum) for kids in a Montessori preschool

The Montessori curriculum recognizes the most intense developmental learning stage of the child from birth to six years old. The activities for preschool kids encourage formative development that leads to long-lasting cognitive, emotional, and social skills and capabilities. 

The activities in a Montessori preschool are designed to support your kid’s independent learning. The materials used to support your child’s learning experience are part of carefully structured lessons. Real-life objects such as kitchen utensils, buttons, zippers, and self-correcting puzzles and toys are used in most of the activities.  

Preschoolers can pick from some of the following activities, which are sometimes guided with the support of a well-trained Montessori teacher:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Building puzzles
  • Counting and grouping real-life objects such as seeds or beans
  • Make food with real-life kitchen tools
  • Outdoor playtime
  • Create gardens

The preschool activities are also designed for mixed age groupings with the younger groups being broken up into 15 months to three-year-olds and three to six-year-olds.

Find out more about Montessori education in this informative video.

How many Montessori schools are there?

There are over 20,000 Montessori schools worldwide, with 3,000 in the United States. 

Are Montessori schools religious?

Montessori schools aren’t religious-based. However, all the programs do encourage the exploration and respect thereof of all types of human spirituality

Pros and Cons of Montessori schools

The Montessori learning program has many benefits but there are some drawbacks to consider. 


  • Child-driven learning: If you want your child to experience independent learning while not hampering their freedom, Montessori is the right school for you. This learning style also empowers your child to grow in self-esteem and confidence.
  • Calm learning environment: Montessori children are often happier working in a calm, learning environment. They’re not pressurized to learn at the pace of other children, giving them time to explore and play in their own way. 
  • Natural development: The lessons are carefully structured to respond to your child’s characteristics at a particular age, allowing them to progress naturally. 


  • Expensive: The fees are prohibitively higher compared to other major preschools including Goddard schools. This makes it difficult for families on a tight budget unless they have a public-funded school in their local area. 
  • Lack of teamwork: Children are encouraged to work independently which doesn’t often allow for teamwork. This may inhibit your child’s social skills development. 
  • Difficulty adjusting to mainstream schools: If you decide to move your child out of the Montessori system into a mainstream school, they may battle to adapt. 
  • Availability: You may not find a Montessori school in your local area which makes for long school runs. 

Is Goddard school better than Montessori? 

Goddard and Montessori schools use completely different educational philosophies and curricula. You can’t compare one with the other in terms of which one is better for your preschooler.

If you lean more towards a traditional educational approach, Goddard would be the best bet for your preschool child. However, if you’re looking for a more child-driven learning experience with minimal teacher interference, Montessori is your answer.


Your child’s preschooling experience is a personal choice but differences do matter when you compare two educational philosophies. Do you want your kid to get a headstart in sciences and math and wonder how to educate your child to become an engineer from an early age? Then, Goddard’s approach to STEAM education would be a good place to start. 

But, if you like the idea of giving your child more freedom to grow and learn at their own pace, Montessori schools are worth exploring.

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