Preschool Choices

Montessori or Educare: which preschool program is right for your child?

Children typically enter Educare and Montessori during the year prior to starting school and undertake a structured program that gives them the tools and confidence to succeed in a national school environment.

Montessori and Educare are part of the government’s free preschool (ECCE) program. Eligible children can access 3 hours of Montessori or Educare each day. To read more about the ECCE program and your child’s eligibility click here.

It is important to understand the difference between the Montessori and Educare programs so that you can choose the right preschool environment for your child.

Each child is different and our programs are designed to help all children achieve their full potential!

Read more below about the Educare and Montessori programs and how to choose the right program for your child.


What is Educare?

Educare at the KCCC aims to help your child prepare for the jump to national school through a structured routine based on Aistear, the national education framework developed by Ireland’s National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Aistear provides consistency during the transition from pre-school to school where the Educare team sets the groundwork for national school teachers to build upon when your child starts school.

The Educare environment provides a child-centred curriculum and focuses on holistic development. Children enjoy learning about a variety of topics such as the four seasons, different cultures and students’ countries of origin, sea life and the natural environment through a play based curriculum that includes table top activities, art and crafts, songs and rhymes and outdoor play.

The role of the Educare teacher is as a facilitator to encourage each child to “learn by doing” rather than being directed in their activities and play. This helps to grow each child’s independence, confidence, social and problem solving abilities, and their ability to understand and take instructions, pay attention, speak clearly, count, understand colours, control a pencil and scissors, and ultimately succeed with the structure and routine of school.

Educare runs one ECCE morning session between 9am and 12noon each day of the week during school terms. There is the option for your child to remain for dinner and be collected at 1.30pm although this is not covered by the ECCE program.

To learn more about the Educare room and day-to-day activities, click here.


What is Montessori?

Montessori is a unique learning approach that provides a well-planned and highly structured environment designed to meet each child’s educational and cultural needs through age appropriate activities suited to their individual stage of development.

Montessori seeks to develop natural interests and activities rather than use formal teaching methods. The concept was originally developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori in the early 1900’s. Like Educare it focuses on child-centred learning however uses a range of specialised Montessori equipment in day-to-day activities and learning. These specialised education materials are used to help translate abstract ideas into concrete form and aim to teach just 1 or 2 skills or concepts at a time. One of the key concepts of the equipment is that a teacher never has to correct a child’s work thanks to the built-in “error control” factors that enable the child to determine whether they have completed the task correctly.

Recent research and the subsequent development of the Aistear early years curriculum has led to the integration of the Aistear principles with Montessori programs throughout Ireland. To learn more about Aistear, its four interconnected themes and how they work in preschool environments, please click here.

Montessori runs one ECCE morning session between 9am and 12noon each day, and one afternoon ECCE session between 1.30pm and 4.30pm each day of the week during school terms. There is the option for your child to remain for dinner and be collected at 1.30pm although this is not covered by the ECCE program.

To learn more about the Montessori room and day-to-day activities, click here.


Choosing Educare or Montessori for your child

The choice between Educare and Montessori is a very individual choice based on the needs of your child. When choosing a program for your preschool child keep in mind the following:

  • Educare implements the Aistear curriculum, the Irish early childhood curriculum framework for all children from birth to six years, which is based on child-initiated activities that focus on "learning by doing" through play.
  • Montessori is an educational approach founded in Italy in 1907 by Dr. Maria Montessori and uses specialised equipment to help children learn concepts by working with prescribed materials. Since 2016, the Irish government has required Montessori providers to integrate the four themes of Aistear as well as play and playful activities into Montessori settings.
  • Educare offers a morning only session, 9am-12noon, Monday to Friday during school terms.
  • Montessori offers a morning session, 9am-12noon, and an afternoon session, 1.30pm-4.30pm, Monday to Friday during school terms.
  • Children in Educare and Montessori will learn similar topics, such as the seasons, the natural environment and about cultures and countries. It is simply the learning approach that differs.


If you would like to learn more about these programs and which might suit your child, why not speak with our Educare and Montessori room leaders? Claire Shaughnessy (Educare) and Aisling Daniels (Montessori) would be delighted to share more about their programs with you.