The traditional method of teaching young children (ages 0-3) typically involves creating a structured curriculum to prepare the child for school. A traditional child development center teaches toddlers selected skills, such as recognizing colors, writing, and basic math. This process gives the child a headstart in the global school system. On the other hand, the Montessori method focuses on a more holistic approach to a young child’s education. This method of learning teaches young children the skills needed in school and the ones needed in the home, such as doing chores and cleaning. Because one of its fundamental philosophies is education for peace. This method also prioritizes conflict resolution and social justice, just as much as it does academics. 

Maria Montessori developed the Montessori method of education in the early 1900s. She came up with the style when faced with the challenge of creating an early learning center for low-income young children in the slums of Rome, who tend to be unruly. 

What Exactly Is the Montessori Method?

A child-centered philosophy of education asserts that children learn best in an environment that enables them to pick the activities they get to perform. This philosophy assumes that education is more effective when the child chooses what to learn and when. In child care programs that follow the Montessori method, teachers are called ‘guides’, and they inspect the children while they are learning, making an effort not to interrupt the self-education process. 

Research suggests that Montessori pupils perform better overall in reading and mathematics than pupils in traditional schools, and they showed a better sense of justice and fairness. They also were not as likely as other pupils to participate in rough play. The Montessori method can be applied in any learning institution for students (ages 0 to 18), including after school programs. 

Major Differences Between Montessori And Traditional Education in Preschools 

  • Montessori education centers on the child: Traditional education in preschools usually focuses on getting the children to understand and assimilate as much of the curriculum as possible. Montessori, on the other hand, allows the child to arrive at understanding at their own pace. It lets the child determine what they learn in a guided environment. 
  • Montessori education leans towards active learning: In a traditional daycare program for children too young to go to kindergarten, the knowledge is usually taught passively, using charts, diagrams, or figures. The children are then passively graded on the things they learned. This isn’t the case in the Montessori system. The child uses the materials provided in the environment and experiments with them in a guided manner. Such a child learns actively.  
  • An adaptable curriculum: Traditional curricula are often rigid and predetermined. Most times, all the children need guidance so that their education matches what the curriculum demands. In the Montessori method of learning, there is a lot of allowance for changes within the curriculum. It recognizes that each child has a unique learning path and respects their learning style, interests, and developmental level. The child is not molded to fit the curriculum. Instead, the curriculum is molded to fit the child. 
  • The principle of respect for the child: Respect for the child is one of the fundamental principles of Montessori education. It involves not interfering with a child’s play and having respect for their feelings. In fact, in Montessori education, playing is referred to as the child’s work. Children are not forced to meet up with formal standards of education, as seen in traditional education. Respecting a child teaches them that they are worthy of time and attention. In conventional education, where this principle isn’t held high, children may tend to feel like they are subject to their teacher’s wishes. 
  • Positive discipline: In early learning centers that use the traditional style of education, teachers enforce external discipline by reprimanding or punishing the children. In the Montessori method, positive discipline is used. This positive discipline enforces a child’s internal sense of discipline and moral compass by guiding them to see the error in their actions instead of blatant punishment.
  • Traditional child development centers focus mainly on academics: Morals and life skills are taught indirectly in conventional schools for young children, but academics are the central focus. Academic activities are placed at the forefront, while the rest take a backseat in the traditional method. In the Montessori Method, the children learn everything together. Children learn social, practical, and life skills while learning basic math and reading skills. 

Advantages of the Montessori Method

  • Montessori accommodates children with special needs: Montessori recognizes that all children learn at different paces and actively makes room for each child in its curriculum. Child care programs that use the Montessori method are well-suited for children with special needs because it allows them to learn in their own way, which may differ from the conventional learning method. Children with learning disabilities can effectively learn academic knowledge and social skills through the Montessori method because it allows them to learn through experiences.
  • It encourages cooperative play: The unrestrictive nature of the learning environment encourages children to explore different kinds of material with one another. They learn to cooperate on games and tasks and naturally develop respect for one another. 
  • Montessori after school programs give children a sense of balance: Even if a parent is not ready to commit to exclusively educating their child using Montessori methods, a toddler can still enjoy the benefits of Montessori education after traditional school hours. This way, the child learns to be independent and develops creativity while learning academics in a more rigid, structured environment during school hours. 

Montessori teaches conflict resolution, respect, and kindness: Because Maria Montessori had lived through two disastrous wars, she was very concerned with creating a system of education that teaches the value of peace. This is termed “education for peace”. The guides in Montessori learning centers model conflict resolution tactics, and the children naturally imitate them. Eventually, the children fall into a balanced rhythm of tranquility and respect for one another.