Montessori Compared to Traditional Education

The goal of Montessori and most traditional education is generally the same: to provide learning experiences for the child. However, a difference in emphasis and method makes this learning experience quite different in a Montessori classroom.


  • Emphasis on whole-child development
  • Teacher is guide; children learn primarily from
  • self-correcting materials
  • Mainly individual instruction
  • Child moves at own pace
  • Curriculum adjusts to child's interests and needs
  • Child has large role in determining his work
  • Child moves and speaks at will
  • Child allowed to follow interests
  • Environment and methods encourage self-discipline
  • Child reinforces learning through repetition of work and internal feelings of success
  • Calm, orderly, beautiful work space
  • Clear expectations and teaching related to
  • character development


  • Emphasis on what a child can produce
  • Teacher is source of most information
  • Mainly group instruction
  • Pace is set by group norm
  • Child must adjust to curriculum
  • Child has little or no role in determining curriculum
  • Child's movement and expression are usually restricted and controlled by adult
  • Child generally allotted time per project
  • Teacher is source of discipline
  • Learning reinforced externally by rewards and critical feedback
  • High-stimulus, often chaotic, disorganized environment
  • Little emphasis on practical skills for proper behavior