Montessori Traditional Preschool
Emphasis on cognitive structures and social development Emphasis on rote knowledge and social development
Teacher’s role is unobtrusive; child actively participates in learning Teacher’s role is dominant, active; child is a passive participant
Environment and method encourage internal self-discipline Teacher is primary enforcer of external discipline
Individual and group instruction adapts to student’s learning style Individual and group instruction conforms to the adult’s teaching style
Mixed age grouping Same age grouping
Children encouraged to teach, collaborate, and help each other Most teaching done by teacher and collaboration is discouraged
Child chooses own work from interests, abilities Curriculum structured with little regard for child’s interests
Child formulates concepts from self-teaching materials Child is guided to concepts by teacher
Child works as long as s/he wants on chosen project Child usually given specific time for work
Child sets own learning pace to internalize information Instruction pace set by group norm or teacher
Child spots own errors through feedback from material Errors corrected by teacher
Learning is reinforced internally through child’s own repetition of activity, internal feelings of success repetition Learning is reinforced externally by rewards, discouragements
Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration development Few materials for sensory, concrete manipulation
Organized program for learning care of self and self-care environment (shoe polishing, sink washing, etc.) Little emphasis on instruction or classroom maintenance
Child can work where s/he is comfortable, moves and talks at will (yet doesn’t disturb others); group work is voluntary and negotiable Child assigned seat; encouraged to 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, often only as fundraisers, not participants in understanding the learning process