As the parent of a preschooler, one of the major decisions you’ll soon make is whether to enroll your child in a traditional or private school. One option to explore is Montessori programs, like a Montessori elementary school. Montessori schools follow an internationally-recognized educational philosophy. The method states that child-directed learning is the best way to turn children into lifelong learners.
There are other key facts to learn about Montessori and traditional education. Read below to learn more about differences and similarities.
Montessori schools are mostly private, but they can be public
Montessori schools and public schools aren’t mutually exclusive. Though most U.S. Montessori schools are run privately, several are charters or public schools. Globally, Montessori schools are largely public. As of 2019, there are an estimated 4,000 private and 500 publicly-funded Montessori schools in the United States.
Montessori schools aim to offer quality education regardless of their funding method. And while there is much debate about the quality public vs. private education, Montessori schools follow the same principles.
Montessori schools follow the philosophy of an acclaimed Italian physician and educator
The largest difference between traditional and Montessori education is the Montessori method. Italian physicist Maria Montessori created the Montessori method in 1907. It’s inspired by her observations of children in traditional learning environments. She discovered that children had higher success when they directed their own education.
In the Montessori method, children learn in open environments instead of sitting in rows of desks. Children have ownership over their daily school activities. They’re also grouped in classes based on their developmental stage, not the same age. Notably, the older children of the classes often teach their younger classmates. This builds a level of comprehension and maturity not found in all traditional schools.
Conclusion: Is Montessori education the best fit?
There aren’t many rigorous comparative studies of Montessori education vs. conventional teaching methods. However, initial research finds promising results for Montessori students. Montessori students have gone to great success in traditional schools and their adult lives. Alumni have gone on to become doctors, professors, lawyers, and more.
The best way to know if Montessori education is the best fit for your child is by visiting your local Montessori school. Schedule a tour to observe classes, speak with teachers, and perhaps ask parents about their experiences.