Montessori vs. Traditional Education

Benefits of a Montessori Education

Montessori Traditional Education
Model whole child approach: values cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development. Emphasis on acquisition of knowledge.
Children have choices within the classroom and are given “freedom within limits”:

  • Child has choices regarding work (teacher will guide, as needed, to assist student in making appropriate choices).
  • Child has choices regarding where to work and can move around and talk as long as others are not disturbed.
  • Child has choices about how long to work on specific activity or project.
Teacher makes most of the decisions in the classroom:

  • Teacher chooses work for the child.
  • Children typically are assigned seats at desks or tables.
  • Children are encouraged to sit still and listen; movement is discouraged.
  • Teacher decides how much time is spent on each activity.
Teacher uses individual and small group instruction; personalizes instruction to meet individual student needs. Teacher uses mainly group instruction designed to meet
the needs of the majority of the students.
Child sets own learning pace. Teacher sets instruction pace for the group.
Mixed age grouping allows teachers to develop close and long-term relationships with their students and know each child’s learning style well. The multiage structure encourages older students to become role-models, mentors, and leaders to younger students. Same age grouping.
Children are encouraged to help, work with, and teach each other. Most teaching is done by the teacher; collaboration is limited and controlled by the teacher.
Hands-on, multisensory, self-correcting materials to support self-directed learning. Through trial and error, children use their five senses to discover concepts through meaningful experiences with actual objects. Leads to children being engaged rather than passive with their work. Textbooks, pencil and paper, and worksheets. Developmentally, young children are not yet able to fully benefit from abstract paperwork.
Integrated subjects. Subjects taught separately.
Learning based on stages aligned with developmental psychology. Learning based on chronological age.
Process is more important than product.
Repeated use of materials is encouraged to develop investigative skills.
Product is more important than process. Memorization and correct answers are stressed.
Discipline is designed to develop children who are self-correcting.

  • Norms based on mutual respect; children involved in setting norms.
  • Teachers set limits and offer choices to children within the limits.
  • Children experience the consequences of their actions, promoting responsibility and accountability.
  • Children make good and poor choices; poor choices are viewed as an opportunity to develop the child’s problem-solving skills.
Discipline is designed to control the behavior of children.

  • Teacher sets rules and enforces them.
  • Rules are reinforced by rewards and punishment.