Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)


What's the difference between Montessori schools and regular pre-schools?

Answer Question

Asked by things_not_sane at 8:03 PM on Apr. 15, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 12 (711 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • The cornerstone of Montessori is respect, followed by order; whereas, this is certainly not the case in the majority of traditional schools (I'm not saying that's true of all of them, just most of them). Another difference the person who initiates lessons. In Montessori, everything is child-directed and the teacher (directress) serves as a guide, but in traditional school, the lessons are teacher-directed and initiated. This means that in a traditional setting, there is a cap on what children can learn; however, in Montessori, a child can go as far as he or she is ready and able to go. Everything in a Montessori classroom is set up to be self correcting, and the works (not toys) are set up on individual trays and baskets with everything a child needs to complete a full work cycle (selecting a work, doing the work, putting the work away) independently after having received a lesson. Works are done in a specific way, and may n

    Answer by BradenIsMySon at 8:18 PM on Apr. 15, 2010

  • and may not be combined. Montessori provides real experiences (for instance, instead of having a pretend kitchen, children in Montessori schools cut fruits and vegetables with child-sized knives). Children in Montessori schools are taught to imagine real things instead of fantasy, this is because Montessorians believe, and research backs up, that children cannot clearly distinguish between reality and fantasy before 6 years old. So, instead of imagining spongebob or superheroes, children are taught to imagine the real things in life (such as in nature). There are no rewards in Montessori, and children learn to be intrinsically motivated instead of motivated by external means (stickers, reward charts, etc.). Montessori schools look dull in comparison to traditional schools because the focus of the classroom is the work on the shelves, not the colorful explosions on the walls.

    Answer by BradenIsMySon at 8:18 PM on Apr. 15, 2010

  • Also, children, with rare exception, may not mix the work pieces, and work in clearly defined areas either at a table or on a work mat, whereas in traditional schools toys are mixed and strewn about the classroom. This is because Montessori schools encourage order, and Montessorians believe that it is through order that a child's developing mind is most nurtured because children thrive in orderly environments. In true Montessori schools children are viewed as the primary clients, not the parents, and this sets the tone for the entire school. Children are not assessed by tests or grades, but rather by direct and meticulous observation by the directress. Maria Montessori believed that a successful class was one that functioned as if the directress was not there, and so, it's the job of the directress to be a fly on the wall and not interrupt a purposeful activity of a child unnecessarily.

    Answer by BradenIsMySon at 8:19 PM on Apr. 15, 2010

  • Source(s):
    Presently a teacher in an international traditional preschool
    Montessori certified teacher
    B.A. Child Development & ECE

    Great read: Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Lillard

    Answer by BradenIsMySon at 8:19 PM on Apr. 15, 2010

  • Do your research on it.. If you decide to look into the montessori schools ask them "What there past students are doing now" and see if you can get into contact with anyone that has been there..
    A while back I read some interesting stories about Montessori schools -- the kids got out of school & didnt know crap.. Montessori believes the child will lead the way & that is the best way to teach them.. so these kids where graduating with a 4th graders reading level & basic math skills (never done algebra). They had never wrote a formal research paper & did mostly elementary stuff (studying indians by making paper bag hats, ect).. I am not saying all the schools are like this. I know we have some pretty bad public schools out there as well.. Just make sure to check out ANY school thoroughly (public, prival, montessori, ect) before sending you child off..

    Answer by MommaTasha1003 at 9:46 PM on Apr. 15, 2010

  • i did alot of research bc i was thinking about sending my 4yo to one. here are the things that turned me off. 1) they don't have any kind of testing before 3rd grade, so i am not sure how they evaluate if the children are learning the things they're supposed to. and 2) parents are not allowed to have any contact with the teacher. you have to talk through the administrator and that was a huge deal for me.

    Answer by princessbeth79 at 2:29 PM on Apr. 16, 2010

  • I send my child to a wonderful Montessori program. The thing to remember is not all schools are the same. Some adhere more strictly to the methods of Maria Montessori than others. The first poster is correct on the philosophy...but it is hard to picture it with a written description. Sometimes you just have to see it in action. As far as talking to my child's teachers....we do every day. She sends updates, e-mails, letters, phone calls, and we have parent teacher conferences. As in EVERY school you do not rudely interrupt class learning time by taking away the teacher's (or in this case guide's) time away from the students. I worked in public schools and it is the same thing. It is just plain rude to think you can just pop in and start having a mini conference on your child. Any teacher is available in between or after she/he is away from the children they are supervising.  The director of the school


    Answer by frogdawg at 9:21 AM on Apr. 17, 2010

  • passes on the message (the same as a principal) that a parent wants to speak with you. Also my three year old, by age two, recognized all his shapes, colors, letters, and numbers. Now at three and a half is ready to start actually reading. This is all due to his Montessori education. His school does do research papers, is very competitive, and many children who attend Montessori are ahead of their peers who attend public schools. The independent literature is actually out there. Montessori is a process. You have to trust and believe in the process. It may look or seem strange but it works. Just not for all children. Which is why most Montessori programs interview perspective students before hand and their parents to see if this is a good fit and discuss the philosophy of the school. It can be expensive in some areas. In our school the one draw back is my son goes to school only with

    Answer by frogdawg at 9:26 AM on Apr. 17, 2010

  • other children who come from well to do families. At over $1,000 a are not going to find a very socially economically diverse student population. This to me makes me sad. But I had to weigh in the facts that this foundation is fabulous. And by the time my child is four he will be reading on a first grade level if he continues at the rate is going. But each child learns at their own level, in their own way, in their own time. I would have it no other way. And neither would all the doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, and other very professionally educated parents who did the research and send their child to the best school possible.

    Answer by frogdawg at 9:30 AM on Apr. 17, 2010

  • I was going to send my Son to a Montessori Preschool that was close to our home and actually the least expensive Preschool in my area. They were nice enough to let me spend a day there with him to see if it was for us. I sat in the rear of the classroom and just observed. Here is my experience: The children seemed to all be in a very bored daze. There was virtually no interaction between the children and it seemed to not be encouraged. No music, crafts, dancing or instruction. The children seemed to just wander around .I actually felt sorry for them. Very robotic. They asked my son who is 3 to sort two colors of balls into two matching colored dishes. He did this in seconds and was like yea soooo. No toys, very few books. my son acted like what are we doing here it's too boring. I want my son to find learning FUN and challenging. They are only young once, why take the fun out of their childhood? BTW I AM a "Professional" too.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:35 PM on Apr. 17, 2010

Join CafeMom now to contribute your answer and become part of our community. It's free and takes just a minute.