Primrose vs Goddard: Preschool Philosophies Compared

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Do you have a Primrose and a Goddard school about equally close to your house?

Heard good things about both of them?

Having trouble deciding which one is better for your child?

Choosing the right daycare or preschool can be a really important, and difficult, decision to make. Especially with so many options.

That’s why I launched my Curriculum Comparison Series, where I give you the quick skinny on popular schools and philosophies so you can compare them at a glance.

In this article, we’ll take a look at Primrose vs Goddard.

Overall, Primrose and Goddard feature very similar curriculums, with traditional and balanced learning plans. Expect a mixture of arts, sciences, reading, and math at both. 

If you’re trying to decide between Primrose and Goddard, visit both and feel out the teachers, pricing, and overall vibe of your local school.

(And if you’re looking for an awesome way to prepare your child for sensory-heavy preschool curriculums, check out the age-based play kits from Lovevery. They’re designed by experts to stimulate wonder and learning in young kids of every age.)

What is the Primrose educational philosophy?

Primrose schools (there are over 300 across the United States, with the headquarters being in Georgia) are an extremely popular choice for daycare and preschool.

Their proprietary educational curriculum borrows a lot from top historical educators and innovators like Montessori, Piaget, and more, plus all of the latest research on childhood learning.

They’ve taken much of what’s proven to work and rolled it into their own system called Balanced Learning.

Balanced Learning is a child-centered approach that introduces new concepts and learning domains when kids are ready for them, with plenty of fun, play, and arts mixed in.

Primrose’s tagline is: Active Minds, Healthy Bodies and Happy Hearts

What does a Primrose classroom look like?

Classrooms differ a lot by age (infant, toddler, early preschool, preschool, pre-K, and kindergarten), but in general, you can expect a standard classroom experience for your kid at Primrose.

In Primrose classrooms, you’ll often find:

  • Learning centers (art, books, blocks/math, science/sensory, dramatic play)
  • Cubbies or coat hooks
  • Rugs for group circle time
  • Educational materials

What do kids do in Primrose preschool?

Young toddlers and preschool kids at Primrose schools often have activities and learning sessions built around a weekly theme, such as “Alike and different,” “Busy Little Mouse,” and more.

The day to day is a little different depending on which room, location, and age-group your child is in, but a typical day at Primrose goes something like this:

  • Circle time (songs, wake-up movements)
  • Learning centers (children move between different activities)
  • Enrichment art (arts and crafts related to the weekly theme)
  • Lunch & nap
  • Outdoor play & fitness games
  • Small group literacy (reading & comprehension)
  • Small group math

(Note: My own daughter goes to a Primrose school, so I have a little more firsthand knowledge about Primrose than other preschools!)

What is the Goddard educational philosophy?

Much like Primrose, Goddard is a chain of franchised schools and not a specific educational philosophy. They do, however, have their own curriculum inspired by historical and modern research.

At Goddard, your child will follow the F.L.EX. system, or Fun Learning Experience.

The idea is to engage children in early exposure to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) using lots of hands-on activities and play.

What does a Goddard classroom look like?

A Goddard preschool or toddler room won’t look drastically different than one at Primrose or other major daycares.

The rooms will be brightly colored and filled with different activity stations and learning materials, like:

  • Group tables
  • Rugs
  • Cubbies
  • Toy shelves
  • Mock kitchens
  • Age-appropriate technology
  • Whiteboards

What do kids do in Goddard preschool?

Goddard prides itself on having an educational focus, with early use of STEAM learning, but the day will consist mostly of hands-on activities and play to introduce these concepts.

  • Arts and crafts
  • Musical games and singing
  • Counting practice
  • Grouping and counting small items
  • Vocabulary learning
  • Imaginative play using props and pretend
  • Free play time and outdoor time
  • Technology learning (where age-appropriate)

Primrose & Goddard School Pros and Cons

I’ve lumped these two together for pros and cons because, in truth, they’re pretty similar at a very high level.

If you look carefully through the curriculum at each, sure, you’ll find some differences (I’ll highlight a few below), but for the most part, these are both standard daycare and preschool options, albeit highly respected and sought after ones.

CON: Franchise inconsistency

Related to the above point, I’ll jump into this: Primrose and Goddard are huge franchise with hundreds of schools across the country.

Both have high standards and great reputations, as well as a well-developed curriculum, but your mileage will vary heavily based on which location you choose.

Each school is run a little different, has different management, different personnel, and varying standards of quality.

If you search reviews online, you’ll find plenty of parents that had a horrendous experience with both, plenty who had an amazing experience with both, or even parents who had a horrible experience at once Primrose or Goddard and then switched to another and found it way better!

My best advice for how to choose between Primrose and Goddard is to visit yours in person and see which has a better staff and facility.

PRO: Well-balanced education

If you’ve looked at specialized schools like Montessori and Waldorf and felt like they weren’t a good fit for you, you’ll probably really like what Primrose and Goddard have to offer.

In short, kids here get a “normal” but top-notch education.

What I mean by that is, they’ll do a little bit of everything. Kids here get exposed to academic concepts early, but still get to play and pretend.

(Contrast that with Waldorf which holds off on most academics until age 7 or so.)

Kids at Primrose and Goddard will also have a mix of individual work, small groups, and class-wide activities. They’ll have some freedom to do what interests them, but also learn how to follow the flow of the classroom.

(Compare this to Montessori, where kids have almost complete freedom over what and when to do activities.)

If you don’t buy into those more specialized educational philosophies and just want your child to get a high quality, traditional educational foundation, these are both good choices.

CON: Not super-individualized education

Both chains say that learning is entirely based around the child’s interest and goes at their own pace, but as big chain franchises, both have a curriculum they need to follow.

The good news is that, in my experience, schools like this will move kids up or keep them in a class longer depending on their development level. So when they’re ready, they move on to bigger and better challenges.

But if you want a school that’s going to be more tailored qualitatively to your specific child, you might want to look at Montessori or Waldorf.

PRO: Kids can be kids

While both Primrose and Goddard introduce academics early, it’s almost always in the context of hands-on learning and play.

Kids here are engaged and having fun while they’re learning foundational skills.

I really like that the classes seem to be excellent at helping young kids learn math, verbal, and reading skills, while giving them lots of chances to play, pretend, and be silly, without being overly rigorous.

Key Differences between Primrose and Goddard

If I’m being honest, you’re unlikely to find any major differences in approach from these two schools.

That’s not to say there ARE no differences between your local Primrose and Goddard, because there surely are, but in terms of the curriculum, there’s not a ton of differentiation.

At both schools, your children will be exposed to STEAM, do arts and crafts, learn reading and verbal skills, have plenty of play and pretend time, and do a mix of small and large group activities.

Some things you may want to ask about at your local school, which could be determining factors:

  • Price!
  • Food timing and menu
  • Report delivery (handwritten vs email)
  • Order of daily activities
  • Potty training approach
  • Drop off & pick up times
  • Etc.

Wrapping Up

There’s a reason these two are some of the most highly sought-after daycares and preschools around:

They really are two of the best!

Both have exceptionally high-quality standards and great curriculums.

I think Primrose and Goddard pretty similar at the end of the day, but that doesn’t mean either is just a “run of the mill” daycare. These two are top-notch and often have long waiting lists.

(For more, check out my full Primrose review.)

My best advice to you would be to tour your local school, meet the administrators and the teachers for your child’s age group, and go with your gut.

At least at a high-level, you probably can’t go wrong with either one.

Hope this helps!

(And don’t forget to check out the age-based play kits from Lovevery. They’re packed with sensory-rich play and learning toys for preschool kids, and they’re a great way to prep for school!)