Ten BIG Differences between Montessori and Traditional Education

If you are new to Montessori education, often the first question you might ask is “What makes
Montessori different?” Truly, the answer to that question is immense! So in an effort to make this bountiful banquet of information a little more digestible, we have organized some of the key concepts into these ten BIG differences:

The Prepared Environment

Montessori classrooms are prepared in advance based on observations of the students’ individual needs. They include student-centered lessons and activities. Traditional classrooms are based on teacher-centered lessons or activities.

Active vs. Passive

Montessori lessons are hands-on and active. Students discover information for themselves. Traditional school lessons are often orated to students who listen passively, memorize, and fill out worksheets.

Age Groups and Grade-levels

In Montessori schools, “grade-levels” are flexible and determined by the child’s developmental range, i.e., 9 – 18 months, 18 – 36 months, 3 – 5 years old. In traditional schools, grade levels are not flexible and strictly defined by chronological age within a twelve-month period.

Adaptable Curricula

Montessori curricula expand in response to the students’ needs. Traditional curricula are predetermined without regard to student needs.

Pace Yourself

The individual child’s work pace is honored and encouraged in the Montessori classroom. Traditional classrooms expect all children to work at the same pace.

Self-Made Self-Esteem

In a Montessori learning environment, a child’s self-esteem comes from an internal sense of pride in his or her own accomplishments. In traditional classrooms, self-esteem is thought to come from external judgment and validation.

For the Love of Learning

Montessori curricula are intended to appeal to the child’s innate hunger for knowledge. Children learn to love learning. Traditional curricula focus on standardized test performance and grades. Children learn because it is mandatory.

Give ‘Em Time

In the Montessori classroom, children work on lessons as long as need be, and interruptions are avoided whenever possible. This develops concentration and connections. Time limitations are mandated by arbitrary schedules in traditional classrooms.

The Teachers’ Role

Montessori teachers act as guides and consultants to students on a one-on-one basis. They assist each child along his or her own learning path. Traditionally, the pace and order of each lesson is predetermined. The teacher must deliver the same lesson, at the same pace, in the same order, for all of the students.

Change is Good

The Montessori Method was created by Maria Montessori and is based on a lifetime of study and observation with regard to the way children really learn. Traditional education is based on…well…tradition.