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Q. What is the difference between Montessori and traditional education?  A. Montessori emphasizes learning through all five senses, not just through listening, watching, and reading. Children in Montessori classes learn at their own individual pace and according to their own choice of activities from hundreds of possibilities. Learning is an exciting process of discovery, leading to concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Montessori classes place children in three-year age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and so on), forming communities in which the older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones. Montessori represents an entirely unique approach to education.

General Comparisons Between Montessori & Traditional Education


Montessori Education

Traditional Education

Three-year age span

All one age

Motivated by self-development

Teacher motivated

Self-correcting materials

Teacher corrects errors

Hands on learning manipulating objects

Teacher lectures

Individual learning

Group learning

Teacher is observer & directress

Teacher is focal point & dominant influence

Cycles of activity completed within child's time

Activity cycles determined by set time

Few interruptions

Frequent interruptions

Freedom to move & work

Assigned specific class periods

Materials used in sequence with presentations

Materials used with no prior instructions

Work for joy and sense of discovery

Work to complete tasks

Environment provides discipline

Teacher provides discipline

Encouraged to help each other

Encouraged to seek help from teacher

Child chooses materials

Teacher sets curriculum

Child sets own pace

Teacher sets pace

Emphasis on concrete ideas

Emphasis on abstract ideas


A lot of role-playing and fantasy

Recognition of individual sensitive periods

All children treated alike

Child is free to discover alone

Teacher continuously guides child

Carefully organized environment

Materials placed at random

Multi-sensory materials to develop specific skills

Play materials for non-specific skills

Self-education through self-correcting materials

Use of reward and punishment as motivation

Respect of child foremost

Community needs take precedence


Q. Are Montessori children successful later in life?

A. Research studies show that Montessori children are well prepared for later life academically, socially, and emotionally. In addition to scoring well on standardized tests, Montessori children are ranked above average on such criteria as following directions, turning in work on time, listening attentively, using basic skills, showing responsibility, asking provocative questions, showing enthusiasm for learning, and adapting to new situations

Q. What ages does Montessori serve?

A. There are more Montessori programs for 3 - 6 years children than for any other age group, but Montessori is not limited to early childhood. Many infant/toddler programs (ages 2 months to 3 years) exist, as well as elementary (ages 6-12), adolescent (ages 12-15) and even a few Montessori high schools.

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