The Montessori approach to education is well-known for cultivating the self-motivated growth of young children and adolescents in all aspects of their development. – cognitive, emotional, social, and physical. Traditional schooling, however, tends to focus mainly on the cognitive side of development. Below are several other factors that distinguish Montessori schools from traditional schools.
A Montessori school groups children together in a multi-age classroom based on their developmental stage, rather than their chronological age like a traditional school. The multi-age classrooms are beneficial for a number of reasons. Younger children can observe and learn from the guidance of older children while their older peers can practice leadership skills and master concepts through teaching them to their younger peers. Multi-age classrooms also facilitate cooperation as opposed to competition between the ages.
Child-Directed vs. Teacher Led
In a Montessori classroom, children can choose what they will be working on and teachers serve as guides that ensure productivity and help the children learn how to learn. Whereas, in a traditional school classroom, teachers conduct the learning every step of the way and essentially teach the students their way of how to learn a concept. A good way to look at the difference is active, hands-on learning in a Montessori school, versus passive, standardized learning in a traditional school.
Freedom, Movement and Order
In a Montessori environment, children are free to move about and explore to satisfy their natural curiosity. Dr. Montessori designed her classrooms with this in mind and created the concept of freedom within limits, meaning that there are classroom ground rules in place that encourage children to exercise their own free will in a way that is respectful of others and their environment. Montessori classrooms are characterized by a lack of clutter and a sense of order. Montessori teachers are there to make sure that the classroom is kept orderly and that the children work in harmony, either independently or in small groups. In a traditional school environment, on the other hand, children typically sit at their desks while the teacher instructs at the front of the classroom at her own pace and all the children learn the same thing at the same time.