The goal of both Montessori and traditional schools is the same: to provide learning experiences for the child. 

The biggest differences lie in the kind of learning experiences each school provides and methods they use to accomplish this goal. Montessori educators believe these differences are important because they help shape how a child learns, his work habits, and his future attitudes towards himself and the world around him.


  • Teacher plays the role of “controller” in the classroom
  • Group and individual instruction

  • Little age spread within class

  • Most teaching is done by the teacher, and children do not have the opportunity to teach one another

  • Curriculum is structured for the child

  • Child is guided to concepts by teacher and does not have the opportunity to self-teach

  • Child is guided to concepts by teacher

  • Instruction pace is usually set by group norm

  • If work is corrected, errors are usually pointed out by the teacher

  • Learning is reinforced externally by rewards, ot by the child's feelings 

  • Fewer materials are used for sensory development

  • Child is usually assigned his own chair. He is encouraged to participate and listen during group lessons, but must essentially sit still

  • Less emphasis on self-care instruction



  • Teacher has unobtrusive role in the classroom

  • Mainly individual instruction

  • Mixed age grouping

  • Grouping encourages children to teach and to help each other

  • Child chooses his own work

  • Child discovers own concepts from self-teaching materials

  • Child works as long as he wishes on chosen project

  • Child sets own learning pace

  • Child spots own errors from comments of their material

  • Child reinforces own learning by repetition of work and internal feelings of success

  • Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration

  • Child can work where he chooses, move around and talk at will, yet not disturb the work of others. Group work is voluntary

  • Organized program for learning care of self and environment (polishing shoes, cleaning the sink, etc)