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Montessori Paradigm

A Comparison of Montessori and Traditional Education

The Montessori philosophy differs from traditional school primarily in three areas:

  1. Multi-aged classrooms that provide the opportunity for the young child for social and academic guidance. The older child in turn gains a sense of responsibility and a high level of self-esteem.
  2. Abstract ideas taught in a concrete way enable the child to truly understand the concept.
  3. An individualized program where each child’s developmental strengths are honed and needs are met.


Montessori EducationTraditional Education
Multi-age grouping (three year age span)Same age
Motivated by self-developmentTeacher motivated
Self-correcting materialsTeacher corrects errors
Hands-on learning with manipulativesTeacher lectures
Individual developmentally appropriate learning in addition to group learningGroup learning
Teacher is observer and directressTeacher is focal point and dominant influence
Cycles of activity completed within child’s timeActivity cycle determined by set time
Few interruptionsFrequent Interruptions
Freedom within limits to move and workAssigned specific class periods
Materials used in sequence with presentationsMaterials used with no prior instruction
Work for joy and sense of discoveryWork because they are expected to
Environment provides disciplineTeacher provides discipline
Encouraged to help each otherSeek help from teacher
Child sets own pace with teacher’s assistanceTeacher sets pace
Emphasis on concreteEmphasis on abstract
Reality orientedMuch role playing and fantasy
Recognition of individual sensitive periods for learningAll children treated alike
Child free to discover aloneTeacher continuously guides
Carefully organized environmentMaterials placed randomly
Multi-sensory materials to develop specific skillsPlay materials for non-specific skills
Self-education through self-correcting materialsUse of reward and punishment motivation
Respect for child is foremostCommunity needs to take precedent
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