The Value Proposition
Most people need to be cost conscious, and for parents looking to place their children in child care this is especially so—young families are rarely at their peak earning power, often have student loans, and are still working hard to establish their professional careers.
With most spending decisions, people balance cost against quality in a value equation in which Value (V) = Quality (Q) divided by Price (P). For every additional dollar we spend on item X, what more do we get for it? When we get the answer, we then ask ourselves if the difference is worth the additional cost. A Mercedes or a Ford can get me to Walmart; the difference in price is huge. For some people, the additional cost is worth the added advantages of the Mercedes and they pay it or can’t afford it and buy the Ford; other people don’t value those advantages the same way and they, too, buy the Ford.
The same is true for facilities that provide care for children. Not all are the same, and I would divide them into two broad categories. Many centers provide care for children in the sense that the staff keeps them safe from harm. People enroll their children in such places so they don’t have to worry about their child’s safety while they are at work.
Others offer a developmentally appropriate curriculum, including but not limited to High Scope, Adlerian, Bank Street, Waldorf, Regio Amelia, and Montessori. Searching the term “childcare curricula” I found many others that offer “free” or “affordable” curricula that a director can purchase and apply. This wide range needs to be subdivided to help make the value decision.
“Buy and apply” curricula are better than none at all. But if the teacher isn’t trained to use them, or if the curriculum doesn’t match the latest pediatric neuroscience research, although they provide some stimulation to the child’s thinking, it’s not much better than basic child care.
The other subcategory, centers using nationally recognized curricula, each have a developmental approach. I have visited centers that use several of these and find them worthy of the term “developmental,” but none reach the level of addressing the latest scientific research—except Montessori. According to Dr. Steve Hughes, former president of the American Academy of Pediatric Neuropsychology, Montessori is “Education 2.0.” The latest scientific discoveries of the developmental human brain show Dr. Montessori’s uncanny ability to see how a child’s mind worked so many decades before scientists could measure it.
A building with her name on the shingle needs properly trained and psychologically appropriate teachers. Unlike child care workers, who are required in our state to attend 15 hours of approved workshops per year (many viewed on-line), our Montessori teachers undergo a rigorous vetting process to determine psychological “fit” for Montessori philosophy, attend a nationally-approved certification course consisting of 250 contact hours and a directed, year-long internship followed by oral and written examinations. After all that, teachers at our school participate in 20 hours per year of professional development at two Montessori conferences.
What is the Quality in the Value equation? Montessori children flourish. They are confident in their abilities, socially and emotionally mature, life-long learners. Children who miss out on a Montessori education may also have these traits, but Montessori deliberately provides the nurturing environment, and works with parents to provide a seamless environment for the children, leading to these outcomes. Many resources available on the internet can describe in greater detail the advantages of Montessori for your child. A good place to start is the “Why Montessori?” page under the “Home” button. Watch Trevor Eissler’s “Montessori vs Conventional” video and one or more of Steve Hughes’ interviews. I am a Montessori administrator, so I can be expected to share their view, and I am comfortable proposing that our Method is worth the differential in Price among the options you may be considering. When you’ve done the research you know those options and their Prices and Quality. And you know your child best: is Montessori what he or she deserves?