If you are new to Montessori education, you likely have a lot of questions. The first of which is probably something like, “What is the difference between a Montessori education and a traditional public school education?” This is a very common question, and in today’s post, we at Omaha Montessori Educational Centers would like to share with you a brief outline of some of these key differences.
If you are in the Omaha area and looking for an educational option that goes beyond the scope of a traditional daycare, preschool, elementary school, or even private school, contact us today! We have a network of seven Educational Centers throughout the Omaha area, serving children 6 weeks through 12 years old.
Montessori classrooms are not like the classrooms of traditional schools. This is something that is immediately apparent. Montessori classrooms are not only full of natural light and open space, but they are arranged to provide students with easy access to a wide array of learning materials, including many sensory-based materials for students at various developmental stages. Unlike traditional classrooms, Montessori classrooms are organized so that children can intuitively find the materials they need as their understanding progresses. Additionally, traditional classrooms revolve around a teacher-centered lesson, whereas Montessori classrooms are based on student-centered lessons.
Active vs. Passive
Because Montessori educational centers take advantage of mixed-age classes and are unrestrained by group curricula, Montessori lessons are active and hands-on. Students are encouraged to follow their curiosity and discover information on their own. Unlike traditional schools, Montessori students are not required to sit and listen passively to a teacher, memorize, and take tests.
In a traditional school setting, the students are bound by a set curriculum. Once the allotted amount of time has expired, they are typically required to move on. This seemingly arbitrary scheduling is not a feature of a Montessori classroom. Children in Montessori school are able to work on lessons as long as it takes them to accomplish an understanding. On top of this, they can often work on the lessons without interruption.
Montessori teachers are more of guides than instructors. They work with students on a one-on-one basis to find the best possible way to help the child develop their own learning path. Their goal is to assist the child in their individual explorative learning process. Their interests are seen as an expression of individuality and are respected. This is a stark contrast to traditional schools, where the pace and order of each lesson are predetermined, and the teacher is expected to deliver the same lessons, at the same pace for all students.
Traditional schools group children according to their age. This is typically a rigid policy with few exceptions. At Montessori Education Centers, on the other hand, grade levels are flexible and based more on finding the right developmental range. One key advantage of mixing ages is that it capitalizes on children’s natural curiosity about the other children around them and uses this to promote and develop social and collaborative skills. Older students are expected to serve as mentors for younger students. This family-like approach has a number of benefits. For example, it fosters independence, reinforces learning, builds confidence, and helps develop important social skills.
In traditional classrooms, teachers are the primary arbiters of conflicts. They are responsible for settling almost all of the conflict between students. In Montessori classrooms, however, this is not the case. The students are taught conflict-resolution skills and expected to handle their own conflicts. This difference is key to helping with the development of self-discipline and social awareness.
Another key difference is the way a student’s self-esteem is viewed. In a traditional school setting, students primarily develop a sense of self-esteem from external judgment and validation. At Montessori education centers, however, children are fostered to understand that self-esteem comes from internal pride in personal accomplishments.
Relationship With Learning
Children are naturally and vibrantly inquisitive. They are driven by a natural curiosity and are routinely amazed by the joy of new things. This is an understanding that significantly informs the Montessori method. In these classrooms, everything and everyone is geared toward appealing to a child’s innate desire for knowledge. This is vastly different from the traditional approach where children learn because it’s mandatory, which is something that naturally begins to weaken a child’s natural inquisitiveness. This is perhaps one of the greatest differences between the two types of education systems. Montessori schools aim to foster lifelong learners who learn for the joy of learning, not to simply pass a test and get a good grade.
Over the years, countless children have learned through the Montessori method and now shine in their respective areas. Of course, not all children shine in the same way, and this is an understanding that is an integral part of the Montessori method. Unlike traditional schools, Montessori schools strive to inspire children to follow their natural curiosities and never stop seeking answers to their burning questions.