How Montessori Schools Are Different from Traditional Schools

With so many different childcare, daycare and school options to choose from, it can be difficult as a parent to know where your child will thrive. Many parents consider Montessori schools, but they are not sure of how the Montessori approach to learning is different from what they might find in a traditional school, preschool or daycare setting. Perhaps more importantly, they want to know if and how these differences in the Montessori approach can benefit their child.

So, what makes Montessori schools different? There are many ways that Montessori schools are distinctive from traditional daycares, preschool programs and other types of schools.

12 Ways Montessori Schools Are Different from Traditional Schools:

  • Respect for Children as Unique Individuals – The core of the Montessori philosophy revolves around a firm respect for each child as an individual, and the unique abilities each one brings to the classroom. Often in traditional preschools, all students are expected to learn new concepts in the same way. The Montessori approach assumes that children learn in different ways. To help each child reach his or her individual potential, Montessori schools focus on developing the whole child — socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively. Learn more
  • Fostering Independence – Montessori classrooms place a high value on teaching children how to learn for themselves. Students are encouraged to reach their highest potential at their own individual pace. In traditional classrooms, students follow the same lessons — leaving some children behind while others pull ahead. In Montessori classrooms, students challenge themselves when they’re ready, developing greater self-sufficiency and personal independence, and building an internal sense of purpose and motivation. Learn more
  • Engaging a Variety of Learning Styles – The Montessori philosophy assumes that all children are born intelligent, and an individual child’s learning style is as unique as his or her personality. With this in mind, Montessori classrooms provide a wide variety of settings and activities to appeal to each child’s interests. This ensures each child’s needs are being met, every student is engaged and challenged, and students develop more flexible thinking strategies. Learn more
  • Teachers Serving as Guides – The Montessori method holds that classroom teachers are collaborative members of the learning process. The child, teacher, and environment create a learning triangle. The classroom is prepared by the teacher who serves as a guide encouraging independence, freedom within limits, and a sense of order. In a Montessori environment, you will not find teachers standing in front of the classroom giving a lecture. Instead of dominating the classroom, they act as guides in a child’s developmental journey. Learn more
  • Mistakes Are Part of the Learning Process – The Montessori approach to education views mistakes as part of the learning process. Unlike traditional school settings where rewarding perfection is often viewed as the best approach, in a Montessori setting mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities. The goal is to assist children to recognize and resolve their errors on their own. Students are taught not to be embarrassed or ashamed by mistakes, but encouraged to learn in a natural, human way which includes making and learning from errors. Learn more
  • Children Learn Best in Social Environments – The Montessori approach recognizes that children are born with individual personalities. These personalities develop and grow as they interact with others, especially other children. Rather than trying to inhibit social interaction in the classroom, as is often done in a traditional school setting, young learners spend much of their day learning and socializing with other students. This helps them develop interpersonal skills and independence. Learn more
  • Learning in Unique, Inspiring Environments – Montessori classroom environments are intended to be fascinating places where children love to learn. It is believed that a harmonious, ordered, and calm classroom encourages learning. Rooms are filled with natural lighting and soft colors. Materials are arranged on open shelves so children can access them easily. There is an emphasis on personal choice, so there are quiet corners for solo learning projects, and larger areas where students can work together in groups. Learn more
  • Specialized Materials that Stimulate Learning – Unlike traditional schools which often rely heavily on textbooks or workbooks, Montessori schools utilize a range of beautiful, hands-on materials and tools which foster a deep sense of concentration and a curiosity about the world. In a Montessori environment, special materials are used that are uniquely designed to appeal to all five senses and encourage the learning process. Learn more
  • Instinctive and Active Learning – The Montessori curriculum emphasizes the belief that children gain knowledge instinctively through active learning. Traditional classrooms often emphasize disembodied education and memorization with seated book learning. To the contrary, the Montessori approach embraces embodied education, the philosophy that movement and learning are tied together. Montessori learning is hands-on, experiential, and investigative. Learn more
  • Building a Strong Sense of Community – In a Montessori school, a strong community is at the heart of a productive learning process. This community is made up of students, teachers, and parents, and the goal is to create a network that is as warm and supportive as possible. Unlike traditional schools, preschools or daycare programs, a Montessori environment offers a multi-age-level approach to learning. Students remain with a single teacher for three years. This allows strong bonds to form between the teacher and child, between the teacher and the child’s parents, and between students. Learn more
  • Inspiring Love for the Natural World – The Montessori curriculum believes that an early and profound love for the natural world is an important part of a child’s personal development. Dr. Montessori believed that nature possesses beauty, order, and harmony — all wonderful qualities for children to explore. Montessori students learn both from nature and in nature using lessons that not only contribute to an appreciation for the environment, but also help develop a child’s motor skills and creativity. Learn more
  • Creating Global Citizens – Montessori schools understand the importance of preparing children to play an active role in the global community. In a Montessori environment, children learn the value of mutual respect and a deep appreciation for different cultures. Dr. Montessori famously said that preventing war was the work of politicians, but “establishing peace is the work of educators.” With this belief at the heart of the Montessori philosophy, Montessori schools actively encourage kindness and peace within each child. Learn more