Although the primary objective of any school is to educate children, the philosophies and methods that are used to accomplish this vary significantly. This is a brief comparison of the differences between the philosophies, structure, and methods of authentic Montessori education and traditional education.

Class Grouping

In traditional classes, children are grouped solely according to their age. Any child born after a specified date is placed in a classroom with other children who were also born that year.

Montessori classrooms are filled with a wide age range. Most classes have a two to three year age span. Despite the increased age range, Montessori classes typically contain about the same number of students or fewer than their traditional counterparts.

Group Vs. Individualized Instruction

In traditional education systems, most, if not all, of the instruction is provided by the teacher standing at the front of the classroom, lecturing to the whole group. Instruction is targeted towards the average student based on what they “should be” learning at that point in the school year. Few, if any, accommodations are made to adapt to varied learning styles or the specific needs of accelerated or struggling learners.

In Montessori classrooms, instruction is provided in small group or one-on-one settings. Teachers work individually with students to address their unique needs and learning styles, while the other students work on different projects and learning experiences. Because instruction is individualized, the child can establish their own learning pace, allowing them the opportunity to thoroughly absorb and internalize information.

Learning Environment

Most work in traditional classrooms is done independently while the students remain seated at their desks. When group projects are introduced, it is typically only to review material that the teacher has previously presented to the class. When errors are made, the teacher makes corrections.

Children are encouraged to participate in collaborative learning experiences with the other students in a Montessori classroom. Instead of being confined to a solitary desk, students can move about the environment to work at tables or on the floor. By working together in a community-oriented atmosphere, the children take turns teaching and learning from each other in what they call a leadership model. As the teacher provides feedback, children learn to identify and correct their errors, deepening their level of understanding in the process. These are some of the building blocks of authentic Montessori.

If you would like to learn more about the Montessori philosophy of education, please contact Mission Valley Montessori in Fremont, California to schedule a tour.