Childcare Curriculum 101

What’s in a name? Like every family, approaches to childcare varies. An overview of common terms is included below to help you put a name to an approach that might be right for you.

  • Pre-School — Or even, “preschool” can sometimes refer to the age range (ages 0-4) of children served at a childcare center that serves children before they start kindergarten (kindergarten typically begins at age 5). However, many childcare centers that serve pre-school aged children call themselves a “pre-school” to indicate that they differ from a “daycare” by focusing on a curriculum. That curriculum may range from home-grown to formally accredited or anywhere in between.
  • Languages offered — Discover these schools with offerings in Spanish, Chinese, French and more!
  • Faith-based — A variety of denominations and levels of religious or spiritual influence are included in this umbrella term.
  • Play-Based — A particular philosophy or curriculum focused on emotional/social learning, rather than academic.
  • Nature-based — Typically, these programs place a high emphasis on outdoor learning.
  • Montessori — A particular philosophy or curriculum that focuses on a children’s independence and abilities to succeed in daily life. Those that follow a Montessori philosophy range from loosely “Montessori-inspired” to rigorous accreditation programs.
  • Reggio — A particular philosophy or curriculum with an academic focus on child-selected project-based work
  • Waldorf — A particular philosophy or curriculum with a play-based approach. Any academics are woven into arts, music and movement.
  • NAEYC – the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a national non-profit focused on high-quality standards of early childhood education. Childcare centers with NAEYC credentials are considered especially high-quality and are generally not considered “daycares”.

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