Montessori vs. Traditional Education: What’s Best for Your Child?

Juliet D'cruz

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As a parent, you’re charged with the difficult, often seemingly impossible task. You’re responsible for making decisions for your child that will affect the course of their entire life. And among that list of monumental decisions is which type of education your child will receive.

Though the list of options seems to grow by the day, two of the most popular are consistently Montessori and traditional education. But how do you choose? What are the differences between Montessori vs traditional education?

If you find yourself asking questions like these, we’re here to help! To discover the difference between Montessori and traditional education, so you can make the best choice for your child, read on.

Classroom Environment

The difference between Montessori and traditional schools is so striking, you can see it without ever observing a lesson!

When you think “classroom environment”, the traditional classroom likely comes to mind. You imagine rows of desks arranged on a tile floor, each facing the front of the room. Montessori classrooms aren’t as rigid and shift depending on students’ needs.

Montessori students are encouraged to learn from their environment. The classroom is full of lessons and activities specifically designed to stimulate not only learning, but a love of learning.

In addition, Montessori features mixed-age classrooms. So instead of separating students by age, they’re placed in age groups.

For example, one classroom might house 3 to 6-year-olds, while another has 6 to 9-year-olds. This is done to promote individual learning speeds and peer mentoring.

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Daily Schedule

One of the major benefits of a Montessori school is that children are free to work at their own pace, even if that pace varies depending on the subject. In a traditional school environment, every child in a class is forced to work on the same subjects, at the same speed, at the same time.

Say your child is far ahead of the other students in reading? Or a little behind the others in math? This is where the Montessori method truly shines. 

In a Montessori classroom, children have certain tasks they must complete. But they have the freedom to choose the order and speed in which they complete them. And if they master a task, they’re free to move on to the next thing.

Because there are both older and younger children in the same classroom, there will always be another child to learn with. 

The Teacher’s Role

Another interesting difference is Montessori vs traditional teaching methods. In Montessori schools, the teacher isn’t the center of learning, the students are. The teacher is there to offer guidance and support, but not to enforce a strict schedule.

Children still learn from the teacher in Montessori schools, but they learn from their environment and other students as well. The pace and order of the lessons aren’t predetermined by the teacher; instead, the curricula are much freer.

As we mentioned earlier, children are encouraged to learn at their own pace. This means choosing when (and where in the classroom) the tasks are completed. If the students’ needs don’t match the planned curricula, it can change!

The goal of the Montessori education is to spark joy for learning, rather than the anxiety common to traditional methods. Everything from the classroom to the teachers to the curriculum is geared toward active, hands-on learning with an emphasis on individuality.

Cost of Education

Maria Montessori opened the first Casa dei Bambini in 1907. This Italian schoolhouse would become the blueprint for Montessori schools all over the world. Her vision was for children from all walks of life to have access to an educational environment that fostered a passion for learning.

Unfortunately, the costs of running such a program are high, making most Montessori schools expensive to attend.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find expensive traditional schools. There are plenty of private schools that far exceed the cost of Montessori but offer a traditional education.

However, there’s no denying that Montessori schools are more costly to attend than free public schools. And though efforts are being made to make Montessori education affordable, the cost will most certainly be a factor when choosing between Montessori or traditional schools. 

Structure vs Freedom

Though the Montessori environment is stimulating and inspiring for many children, it’s not for every child. If your child thrives with routine and structure, a traditional education might be preferable. Certain children find the constant movement and change of a Montessori classroom intimidating rather than encouraging.

Additionally, some children don’t do well with the freedom that the Montessori curriculum offers. Children aren’t given the freedom to do whatever they want throughout the day. However, the choice to focus on certain subjects can mean that others fall by the wayside.

This isn’t necessarily a negative thing – everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. If your child excels in math, why shouldn’t they follow that passion? That said, if maintaining an even focus across all subjects is a concern, a traditional education might be the right choice.

Montessori vs Traditional Education: In Which Environment Would Your Child Thrive?

When it comes to the question of Montessori vs traditional education, there’s no right or wrong answer. Every child is unique, and so are their needs and preferences!

The best way to determine which route is right for your specific child is to understand their learning style. When you know what makes them feel inspired and interested in learning, the answer is easy.

If you’re interested in learning more about helping your child get the most out of their education, take a look at our blog!

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