Trying to decide between Montessori school vs traditional school for your child can be a hard decision. You’ve likely heard such a mix of things about each model that you may not really feel confident about which one is right for your child.
Montessori schools and traditional schools use a completely different model for education. Understanding the key differences between how each approaches learning and development is essential when trying to decide which is right.
I know that it can feel overwhelming and confusing trying to make such an important decision for your son or daughter. Trust me; I’ve been there too.
To help you make your decision easier, I did a lot of research on the differences between Montessori school and traditional school, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each model. I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you.
Continue reading, and I’ll share:
- The key differences between Montessori school and traditional school →
- What the Montessori method is →
- The pros and cons of Montessori education →
- The pros and cons of traditional education →
So, now that you have read through the various pros and cons of both Montessori and traditional education models, I want to take a moment to highlight some of the most important differences between each approach to learning.
Curious about the some of the things you can expect from a Montessori program vs. a traditional school method? Here are just a few differences. Learn more by visiting us online: https://t.co/IzNe09FXDC#Montessori #HermosaMontessori pic.twitter.com/Mm02m4ixfg
— hermosa montessori (@hermosa_school) March 25, 2019
The teaching philosophy employed by each type of school is one of the biggest differences between a Montessori education and a traditional education.
As I shared above, the Montessori method guides the approach that Montessori centers take with their students. The key principles of the Montessori method, including respect for the child, educating the whole child, individualized learning, and choice, look very different from the ideals of a traditional education.
While there can be some differences between any two Montessori centers or any two traditional classrooms, the overall philosophy will remain the same.
Because of the different philosophies of each approach, the teaching methods used by the teachers are often drastically different. With Montessori education, a lot of the learning happens through play.
Conversely, in traditional classrooms there is less emphasis on play, with more time spent in direct instruction or completing worksheets.
The teacher is seen as the center of the classroom in a traditional education model. She leads the lessons, and the students pay attention and follow her instructions.
This is very different in a Montessori center. The students are seen as the center of the classroom, with the teacher acting as more of a guide to help them achieve their potential.
You’ll also notice a difference in the overall classroom environment between a Montessori center and a traditional classroom. Montessori centers will have toys and manipulatives placed so students can access them whenever they need/desire.
In a traditional classroom, on the other hand, materials and toys may only be taken out during specific times of the day. The students will not be able to access them freely.
Both classroom types may use technology for learning. However, in Montessori centers it is more commonly used as a supplemental tool to enhance learning, while it is often the center of lessons in traditional classrooms.
Either way, your child may need a good set of headphones to make sure they don’t distract other learners in the class. You can learn more about the best headphones for elementary school students here .
In most traditional classrooms, the schedule is pretty rigid. Students will do math at a set time, reading at a set time, and so on.
Montessori schedules are much more flexible. Since the students guide their own learning, they have more freedom to choose what they want to work on and when they want to spend additional time completing a project.
Age of Students in Classroom
Another important difference between Montessori centers and traditional classroom lies in the ages of the students you’ll find. Traditional classrooms include groupings of students who are all about the same age (grade level).
In a Montessori classroom, on the other hand, mixed age groups are used. This allows for more flexible groupings based on interest and can help students get the enrichment or support they need.
Qualifications of the Teachers
Qualifications of the teachers in a Montessori center and a traditional classroom can also vary.
Of course, there will be some differences from one state to another. However, in many cases, Montessori teachers will have earned additional certifications along with meeting the standard teaching requirements.
If you’re considering a career as a Montessori teacher, using a camera to record your practice lessons and interactions with students can refine your approach. You can even start by doing some practice lessons with your own children to see if you may want to consider a career as a Montessori teacher. If you’d like to learn more about the best cameras for recording these practice sessions, you can check out this article .
The approach to discipline will also look different in a Montessori school vs traditional school.
While most traditional education models use a corrective model of discipline where students are put in time-outs, removed from the classroom, or sent to the principal’s office, the Montessori approach is a lot different.
Montessori classrooms rely on a natural self-disciple approach. This model doesn’t use punishments for students.
Rather, it helps children learn to be responsible for the freedoms they are awarded. When children abuse these freedoms and responsibilities, natural consequences are used to help them make the connection.
Finally, the cost of sending your child to a Montessori center or a traditional school will also vary.
In most cases, traditional education models will cost less than Montessori centers, which are mostly private institutions.
If you’re trying to decide between a traditional preschool and a Montessori preschool, or even a Montessori center and a traditional school for older children, the first step is to become familiar with the Montessori method.
Understanding the Montessori method will help you get a better idea of what a Montessori education will look and feel like for your children. This can help you decide if you think this approach is right for them.
If you’re not familiar with the Montessori method, it is quite different from a traditional approach to education.
The Montessori method was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. Her research, observation, and experimentation with children led her to develop a number of key principles that define Montessori education.
These principles of the Montessori method include:
- Respect for the child: One of the most central principles of the Montessori method is showing respect for each child. This respect means that children in a Montessori classroom are seen as unique individuals. They are given more freedom over their own choices and learning. Children are also more empowered to fix the mistakes they make on their own and choose the pace at which they work.
- Absorbent mind: “The absorbent mind” is a term created by Maria Montessori to refer to the period in a child’s life that is most important for their learning and development. Montessori found that between the ages of 0 and 6, children are quickly developing an understanding of the world around them and building the foundation of their future selves.
- Educating the whole child: Much of a Montessori curriculum revolves around physical, social, and emotional development, rather than simply intellectual development. All of these pieces of child development are viewed with the same level of importance.
- Sensitive periods: Another key finding of Maria Montessori is that children are most ready and capable to acquire various skills and knowledge at different periods during their development. These periods, which can vary from child to child, are referred to as sensitive periods. Supporting children when they are ready to learn something new during these periods is crucial.
- Freedom and choice: An important characteristic of a Montessori classroom is the freedom that students enjoy. Rather than following a schedule and activities set by the teacher, students are able to choose what they want to work on. This allows them to dedicate more time to what they are interested in, choose the best area in the room to complete their work, and use the materials they need for learning.
- Individualized learning: With the freedom and choice of a Montessori classroom, students receive more individualized learning. The teacher can help them explore and learn more about the concepts and topics that are most important to them. One-on-one lessons can help students excel.
- Intrinsic motivation: Rather than receiving stickers or treats for doing a good job, the Montessori method emphasizes helping students view learning as rewarding in and of itself.
- Prepared environment: If you ever step into a Montessori center, you’ll immediately notice that it is different from a traditional classroom. The environment is set up to facilitate the freedom and choice of the children. Materials are organized and accessible by the children, and there may be different zones with different types of materials and activities for students to explore.
- Auto-education: Auto-education refers to the belief that, as long as they are given the stimulus they need, children can teach themselves new concepts. For this reason, the materials and tools you’ll see in a Montessori classroom are designed to help children choose the path for their own education. The teacher serves to guide children and encourage them on their journey.
- Independence: Helping children develop into independent beings is one of the most important goals of a Montessori education. Children will be provided the materials and guidance they need to practice and become independent at the various skills they’ll need, both in life and education.
When making an important decision, such as which educational method to choose for your child, evaluating the pros and cons can help a lot.
Below, I’ve laid out some key pros and cons associated with Montessori education .
- Fosters independent learning
- Hands-on approach to learning (i.e., using document cameras to get a close-up view of the various smaller parts of an object. You can learn more about the best document cameras for teachers here.
- Mixed age groupings can facilitate learning from peers
- Can help children develop a strong love for learning
- Children can pursue their interests
- Naturally inclusive of special needs children with the mixed age and ability groupings
- Some kids need a more structured curriculum
- Students/adults may have a harder time transitioning to a more traditional school or future job
- More expensive
- Disproportionately difficult for lower income students and students of color to attend
Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of more traditional education methods.
- Some students really benefit from a structured curriculum
- More equally accessible by students of different income levels and races.
- Curriculum targets national and state standards.
- More closely tied to the structure of many future jobs students may hold.
- Less expensive than Montessori education
- The teacher, not the students, is the center of the classroom.
- Not very conducive to independent learning and student choice.
- All students are the same age, so not as much peer-to-peer learning occurs.
- Students are not in control of the learning and can’t pursue their interests as easily.
- Top Public Montessori Schools in the United States
- Inside the Montessori Classroom
- Montessori Materials
Now that you’ve learned more about Montessori school vs traditional school, which do you think is the best fit for your child’s needs and learning style? I hope I’ve helped to answer all of your questions about how each type of school is different and that you now feel knowledgeable and ready to select the best model for your child. If you still have questions, many Montessori centers and traditional schools will let potential students and their families visit to see learning in action.