The goal of both Montessori and traditional preschools is the the same; to provide learning experiences for the child. The biggest differences lie in the kind of learning experiences each school provides and the methods they use to accomplish this goal. Montessori educators believe these differences are important because they help shape how a child learns, his/her work habits and his/her future attitudes toward himself and the world around them.


  • Emphasis on cognitive structures and social development.
  • Emphasis on rote knowledge and social development.
  • Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom; Child actively participates in learning.
  • Teacher's role is dominant, active; Child is a passive participant.
  • Environment and method encourage internal self-discipline.
  • Teacher acts as primary enforcer of external discipline.
  • Individual and group instruction adapts to each student's learning style.
  • Group and individual instruction conforms to the adult's teaching style.
  • Mixed-age grouping.
  • Same-age grouping.
  • Grouping encourages children to teach and help each other.
  • Most teaching done by teacher and collaboration is discouraged.
  • Child chooses own work form interests and ability.
  • Curriculum structured with little regard to child's interests.
  • Child discovers own concepts from self-teaching materials.
  • Child is guided to concepts by teacher.
  • Child works as long as he wishes on chosen activities.
  • Child generally allotted specific time for work.
  • Child spots own errors from feedback of materials.
  • Errors pointed out by teacher.
  • Child reinforces own learning by repition of work and internal feeling of success.
  • Learning is reinforced externally by rewards,discouragements.
  • Specially designed multi-sensory materials & educational tools for physical exploration.
  • Few materials for sensorial exploration and concrete manipulation.
  • Organized program for learning care of self and environment (polishing shoes, cleaning, washing table, gardening, etc.)
  • Little emphasis on self-care, care of environment.
  • Child can work where he chooses, move around and talk at will (yet not disturb work of others);group-work is voluntary.
  • Child usually assigned own chair, encouraged to participate, sit still and listen during group sessions.
  • Organized program for parents to understand the Montessori philosophy and participate in the learning process.
  • Voluntary parent involvement, sometimes only for fundraisers.
"The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the period from birth to the age of six...
for that is the time when intelligence itself, her greatest implement, is being formed."
~Maria Montessori