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A Comparison of Montessori and Conventional Education

From “The Essential Montessori” by Elizabeth G. Hainstock


Three-year age span (mixed age in one classroom)

Teacher assists and guides

Self-correcting concrete materials, learn through trial and error

More individual learning (self-taught and motivated)

Teacher is observer and directress

Child completes “cycles of activity” (self time management)

Freedom to move and work within classroom

Emphasis on independence

Encouraged to help one another (cooperation)

Emphasis on hands-on learning, reality-orientated

Child can go as far as capable

Emphasis on free choice, initiative


  • All one age (same age in one classroom)

  • Teacher lectures

  • Teacher corrects errors most of the time

  • Group learning through white board (depend on teachers)

  • Teacher is focal point and dominant influence

  • Activity cycles determined by set time by teachers

  • Assigned seats and specific class periods

  • Emphasis on compliance

  • Seek help from the teachers

  • Emphasis on abstract, much role-playing or academic based

  • Child stays at pace with class

  • Emphasis on following directions

Why Montessori? This awesome FastDraw video gives some compelling arguments.

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