Parents of toddlers spend a great amount of time evaluating their options for childcare and evaluating the differences between a Montessori preschool vs. in-home childcare.

“Infants and toddlers learn by absorbing everything they see, hear, touch, smell and taste. So, we want to formally teach them as soon as they’re ready for potty learning. Together, parents, teachers, older classmates and your toddler will quickly address and manage that milestone. Then, it’s time to learn!” says Kelly McFarland, M.Ed., Director of a preschool in La Jolla called La Jolla Montessori School (LJMS).

“There are core differences between a child’s day at our preschool compared to a private in-home childcare center. These differences include policies, procedures, cleanliness, costs and staffing. Bottom line: parents need to ask questions before placing their child into a private home,” she continued.

At LJMS, toddlers as young as 18 months are being taught to maximize their academic, social and emotional development while learning both English and Spanish.


Questions to Ask Your Potential Private In-Home Childcare Provider

LJMS meets or exceeds all standards set by the State of California. Since that’s not always the case with a private provider, here’s what you need to ask while visiting:

  • Policies and Procedures—Are licenses up to date? Is there a written contract? How about a parental handbook? What about holiday hours, early and late drop off and pick up times; and additional costs? Are you given a written detail of your child’s daily routine? What are the policies concerning parental visitation and degree of involvement during your child’s time at the facility? Who is the lead person concerning my child’s behavior? What are the policies and philosophies concerning poor child behavior and subsequent punishment?
  • Health, Cleanliness and Illness—How clean is the diaper changing area? What protocols are in place to stop germs from spreading? Are masks worn by all staff, children and parents while at the school? Is there a written policy concerning how medications your child may need are to be administered? How clean are the bedding, sheets, refrigerator, bathroom, windows and floors? Is there an outside play site? Is that area clean, safe and fenced?
  • Costs—Is there a comprehensive breakdown detailing tuition, registration, materials, travel and finance fees? Is there an added charge for food and beverage? If field trips are offered, are they ‘extra?’ Is your payment weekly or monthly? Are cancellation fees listed? How do you settle a dispute?
  • Staffing—What are the education and experience levels of each staff member? Has each team member been cleared via a criminal background check and drug use test? Are copies of all driver’s licenses, insurance and immunization records on file?

Teaching is the Difference

La Jolla Montessori Preschool answers ‘Yes!’ to every question. Can a home-based childcare center say the same?

“Private home childcare centers have many pluses,” McFarland says. “Usually, timing is flexible and parental commutes are short. And for many, having a home-like environment is appealing. But the core difference is this: we’re a school.

“Our school employs educated, certified and experienced teachers. Each child is taught at their own pace as they socialize with age-appropriate peers.” Says McFarland.

“After toddler, primary and Kindergarten programs with us, your children will be well-trained to manage their academic, social and emotional challenges while also learning to become bilingual in English and Spanish. ” McFarland concluded.

No learning environment is created equal, begin evaluating your choices when comparing a Montessori preschool vs. in-home childcare to explore which option best meets you and your child’s needs.


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