What are the differences between a Montessori and traditional preschool education?

Do you know that there are differences between Montessori and traditional preschool education?




If you are new to Montessori education, this may sound very strange to you.


Below are few things that differentiate Montessori from the traditional preschool education.



In Montessori classrooms, the teachers try as much as possible to avoid interruptions to the workings of the children’s minds. This means that students spend as much time as they need on each activity. In traditional classrooms however, there is a schedule and therefore a time is set for each activity even if one child needs more time than another.



All Montessori based classrooms are prepared with the knowledge of the needs of each student. They include student-centered lessons and activities. Traditional classrooms are based on teacher-centered lessons or activities.



Montessori lessons are also extremely active and hands-on, forcing children to solve problems and learn for themselves. On the other hand, more traditional pre-schools mostly teach in a way which means the students to learn more passively by listening, memorising and repeating information.



Traditional preschool teachers follow a curriculum or a predetermined order for lessons whiles

Montessori teachers aim to guide children through activities, rather than dictate what should or shouldn’t be done.

Also whiles traditional schools set the same tasks for each child regardless of his or her learning style.

Montessori teachers follow the individual learning path and needs of each child.




Montessorians respect and even encourage a child to go at their own pace with each activity. In traditional classrooms, it is often expected that all children will complete each activity at the same pace, or stop doing it if not finished within the time allocated.



In the Montessori classroom, teachers aim to help children to foster good self-esteem by understanding that they will only gain this kind of pride through their own accomplishments. Traditional preschools seem to focus more on external validation through praise from teachers or tests.



The attitude towards learning differs greatly too. The Montessori curriculum is designed to nurture a passion for learning from the student, wherein they teach themselves to love learning itself. Traditional schools have a curriculum which is all based around standardised testing processes and performance levels.



Maria Montessori created the alternative educational method after thoroughly studying the ways children learn most effectively. Traditional education has shown little progress and is based on a structure which has always been a certain way.




The table below gives a summary of how Montessori education differs from traditional education.


Montessori Education Traditional Education
Based on helping the natural development of the human being Based on the transfer of a national curriculum
Children learn at their own pace and follow their own individual interest Children learn from a set curriculum according to a time frame that is the same for everyone
Children teach themselves using materials specially prepared for the purpose Children are taught by the teacher
Child is an active participant in learning Child is a passive participant in learning
Understanding comes through the child’s own experiences via the materials and the promotion of children’s ability to find things out for themselves Learning is based on subjects and is limited to what is given
Learning is based on the fact that physical exploration and cognition are linked Children sit at desks and learn from a whiteboard and worksheets
Child can work where he/she is comfortable, move around and talk at will while not disturbing others Child is usually assigned own chair and encouraged to sit still and listen during group sessions
The teacher works in collaboration with the children The class is teacher led
The child’s individual development brings its own reward and therefore motivation Motivation is achieved by a system of reward and punishment
Environment and method encourage internal self-discipline Teacher acts as primary enforcer of external discipline
Child works as long as he/she wishes on chosen project Child generally given specific time limit for work
Uninterrupted work cycles Block time, period lessons
Mixed age groups Same age groups
Working and learning matched to the social development of the child Working and learning without emphasis on the social development of the child
Shared emphasis on intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual development Main emphasis on intellectual development
Shared focus on the acquisition of academic, social, practical and life skills Main focus on academics


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