Is Children’s Lighthouse School & Daycare Worth it? (Review)

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Depending on where you live, you may have a range of childcare options for your baby or toddler.

These might include cheaper options such as babysitters and budget daycare centers — to more expensive private schools like Children’s Lighthouse.

According to a survey by Care.com, more than half of families spent over $10,000 on childcare in 2020.

With the average cost of child care for a toddler at around $340 per week, parents need to consider their budgets carefully.

Children’s Lighthouse Early Learning Schools offers quality childcare that goes beyond simple babysitting. But is it worth the extra cost?

Here’s a full Children’s Lighthouse review.

Children’s Lighthouse gets great reviews from real parents for its loving, caring teachers and for high-quality facilities. Parents are in love with the daycare instructors here, and the classrooms and play areas are some of the best you’ll find anywhere.

Some negative reviews mention high fees and tuition, which is common for most daycare centers. You may find Children’s Lighthouse stretches your budget to the limit.

In this review, we look closely at what parents can expect from Children’s Lighthouse. We’ve also collated reviews from real parents so you understand the pros and cons of enrolling your child here.


What is Children’s Lighthouse?

Children’s Lighthouse Early Learning School is a franchise with over 40 daycare centers across eight states in the US.

The company was established in 1997 in Ft. Worth, Texas, by brothers Pat and Mike Brown. It continues to grow today, with more than 20 more centers currently in development.

You’ll find Children’s Lighthouses in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, and Texas.

Each center cares for children from six weeks to 12 years of age.

The Children’s Lighthouse Franchise Company system is accredited by Cognia (formerly known as AdvancedEd).

As each school is independently owned and operated, individual schools may also have their own Cognia accreditation or another local accreditation.


Children’s Lighthouse Teaching Philosophy Explained

Children’s Lighthouse has developed its own approach to learning which is called Lighthouse Pathways.

This approach focuses on four key areas:

  • Confidence – Using hands-on learning and guiding each child as an individual to shape confident, independent children
  • Connection – Emphasizing teamwork between home and school and building relationships with local neighborhoods
  • Continuous Improvement – Providing high-quality early education by qualified teachers who model strong social, emotional, and communication skills
  • Curriculum – Delivering a comprehensive curriculum that prepares children for the real world and empowers them to become independent and well-rounded individuals

You can learn more about the Children’s Lighthouse philosophy in this short video.


Children’s Lighthouse Curriculum

Childen’s Lighthouse schools offer three curriculums, tailored to each age group:

Lighthouse BRIGHT – 6 weeks to 24 months

This curriculum is designed to build healthy brains at the earliest age. It focuses on physical, social, emotional, language, and cognitive development. 

  • Brain development
  • Research-based activities
  • Integrated skill development
  • Goal focused
  • Heart focused
  • Time rich in individual language experiences

Lighthouse CARES – 2 to 5 years

This curriculum prepares children for school by focussing on character, values, and positive peer relationships.

It includes modules in language, literacy, math, science, social studies, art, physical development, technology, social-emotional development, and play.

  • Character-building values for social-emotional development
  • Active engagement through exploration
  • Research-based on current early education best practices
  • Embedded content in activities and lessons
  • Skills based on national and state benchmarks

xSTREAM Quest – Kindergarten to 12 years

The after-school curriculum is STREAM-focused and includes exciting solo, team, and community challenges.

Kids record these missions in logbooks and can earn badges which they collect on a keyring.

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Reading
  • Engineering
  • Art
  • Math

In addition, Children’s Lighthouse offers a summer camp for kids aged 2 to 12.

Here they can have fun with weekly themed activities that might include nature expeditions, cooking classes, science projects, art, engineering, and journaling.

Just like a Montessori program, which you may be familiar with, Children’s Lighthouse schools encourage children to actively seek their own knowledge.

However, there are some key differences between the Lighthouse Pathways approach to learning and the Montessori approach.

With Lighthouse Pathways, the learning is a little more structured than Montessori.

Instead of giving kids the freedom to work at their own pace and regulate their own learning, Children’s Lighthouse schools have set times to work on target skills and regulate these with state and national standards.

In addition to the individual learning focus of Montessori, the Children’s Lighthouse curriculum includes more time spent in small and large groups to foster social and communication skills.

(Learn more about how Montessori compares to other popular curriculums like Waldorf, Goddard, and Highscope.)


Children’s Lighthouse Day To Day Procedures/Typical Day

A typical day at Children’s Lighthouse begins when a parent enters their unique access code to enter the building and signs their child in for the day.

A member of staff from the front desk will then take your child to their classroom.

Opening times vary depending on the location, but schools are usually open from around 6.30 or 7.00 am through to 6.00 or 6.30 pm.

During the day, babies and toddlers will follow the Lighthouse BRIGHT program, while pre-school children will follow the Lighthouse CARES curriculum detailed above.

(What’s the difference between preschool and daycare?)

All children enjoy time spent outdoors as well as a nap or quiet time, depending on age.

Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are provided and any special dietary requirements are catered for.

For babies, parents are asked to provide:

  • diapers
  • wipes
  • diaper cream
  • premade bottles
  • baby food
  • and a sleep sack.

For toddlers, parents are asked to provide diapers, wipes, diaper cream, sunscreen, and a lightweight blanket for nap time.

The teacher to child ratio at Children’s Lighthouse daycare centers is as follows:

  • 6 weeks to 12 months – 1 to 4
  • 12 to 18 months – 1 to 5
  • 18 to 24 months – 1 to 9
  • 2-year-olds – 1/11
  • 3-year-olds – 1/15
  • 4-year-olds – 1/18
  • 5-year-olds – 1/22
  • 6 to 12-year-olds – 1/26

As the Children’s Lighthouse website doesn’t give a whole lot of information, the best way to get answers to any specific questions that you may have is to take a tour of your local school.

It’s a good idea to come prepared with a list of things you need to know. You may wish to take inspiration from this list of questions.

You will also find some information about policies and procedures in the Children’s Lighthouse Parent Handbook.


Children’s Lighthouse Tuition Examples

As Children’s Lighthouse schools are individually owned and operated, the tuition rates vary.

Children’s Lighthouse does not publish these. The best way to find the tuition and enrollment fees for your local school is to call them to ask.

Your local Children’s Lighthouse may have a variety of fees to pay including a registration fee, weekly tuition fee as well as an annual curriculum fee. 

We looked up some of the Children’s Lighthouse enrollment packet pdfs online and found the following rates listed:

Children’s Lighthouse Weekly Tuition fees:

  • Full day program – unknown
  • Half day program – unknown
  • After school – $210 to $225 per week

Children’s Lighthouse Registration fee:

  • $100

Children’s Lighthouse Annual Curriculum fees:

  • Full day program – $180 to $240 
  • Half day program – $160
  • After school program – $75
  • Summer camp – $50 to $175

No refunds are given for times when your family is on vacation, times when the school is closed due to bad weather, or when your child is ill for two days or less.

If your child is enrolled full time, aged two or over, and misses three consecutive days or more due to illness, the tuition fees will be reduced by 40% for those days missed.

Parents should be aware that school-age kids enrolled in the after-school program are also expected to attend during the school holidays.

If they do not attend, parents are still charged the full rate.

10% discounts are usually given to the oldest sibling in a family.

Again, rates and policies vary by location, so be sure to ask your local school about tuition and fees during your tour.


What Real Parents Are Saying About Children’s Lighthouse Schools

To get an idea of whether Children’s Lighthouse schools are worth it, we read through hundreds of online reviews to get an understanding of what real parents like and dislike about their local Children’s Lighthouse center.

Remember, that each daycare is an individually owned and run franchise. So these points may not be relevant to every single location.

Also, when reading online reviews yourself, it’s important to recognize that owners and managers may change over time. So older reviews may be less relevant than more recent ones.

Pros

The teachers

Many parents were quick to praise individual teachers in online reviews. They were pleased with how teachers loved and cared for children as if they were family members.

“I teach at 10 different preschools a week (Children’s Lighthouse is not one of them), and Children’s Lighthouse is by far better than the other schools I teach at.

Every teacher at this school genuinely cares about their students and helping each child learn. The staff is compassionate and professional and they do everything they can to help you with anything you need.”

Pamela T

The facilities

While facilities vary at each location, parents and kids love the outdoor areas, particularly the water play areas in summer.

“It’s definitely a bonus that the school is a completely new facility; it’s always very clean and offers fun extras such as a splash pad for the kids to enjoy water play on warm days.”

Aliya E

Video monitoring

Parents like that they can check in on their kids throughout the day via the video monitoring system. While many daycares charge extra for this facility, this is included at Children’s Lighthouse schools.

“The facility is immaculate, secure and the video monitoring eases anxious moms like myself as I am able to view him throughout the day.

“However after the first week – I only check the video from time to time as I know he’s learning and having fun.”

Hien L

Cons

The daily reports

Daily reporting is something that’s often very important to parents as they like to know what their child ate, how long they napped for, and when diapers were changed.

However, it seems that the reporting at Children’s Lighthouse schools isn’t always as detailed as some parents would like.

“The ONLY thing I wish that was more detailed and individualized would be the daily reports. I love seeing what they are learning and words of the week, I just wish there were more specifics on each child’s report.”

Christyn C

The communication

Some parents found the communication between the office and parents to be lacking.

“There were many times when I walked in and no one was at the front desk. They have POOR COMMUNICATION.

“I have had to sign field trip slips the day of, even had to turn around and go back home because that morning I found out they were going to a waterpark. No email sent to me nor ever notified of anything until my son would tell me and I would have to ask an employee.”

Abbie J

The fees

When you enroll at Children’s Lighthouse, it’s important to consider any additional fees in addition to the weekly tuition fees.

“They charge the parents a ridiculous amount of money in tuition plus registration fees, plus supplies fees, plus and plus… Isn’t this the perfect formula for the best money-making business?? I think so!!”

Natasha H


Wrapping Up

On the whole, the reviews of Children’s Lighthouse online are a little lower than we have seen for some other popular childcare franchises.

But you won’t know for sure until you see your local school in person.

The best way to understand whether a specific daycare is a good fit for your family is to take a tour and your local Children’s Lighthouse school will be happy to show you around.

When you meet with the people who will actually be looking after your child and see the environment with your own eyes, you can get a good understanding of whether the fees are worth it.

Before you go, compare Children’s Lighthouse to some other popular daycare and preschool centers:

Hope this helps!

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