Montessori Programs: How they Differ from Traditional Programs

On August 15, I became a Montessori Mom. My two-and-a-half-year-old son started his first year in the Primary classroom. 

Montessori For Moms

His transition from grandparents/nannies/MDOs to a full-time school week has been a whirlwind. Even though I am also an administrator at his school, I was an emotional wreck during his orientation week. I wasn’t sure if he would be receptive to his new schedule, new people, new environment. I was afraid Montessori wouldn’t work for us now. Since he began, we haven’t looked back. 

I have already noticed so many wonderful changes in my son. Yesterday, he walked inside our house, sat down, and removed his shoes. Just a few weeks ago, removing his shoes was nothing short of a battle.

There are many differences between the Montessori program and a traditional program. Montessori teachers take on a holistic approach that nurtures social, emotional, physical and intellectual development. Because of the program, children are more likely to learn to think independently and initiate projects on their own. 

Here are 7 key differences between a Montessori Program and a Traditional Program:

1. In a Montessori program, instruction is usually done individually. In a traditional program, instruction is usually done in a group.

2. With input from the teacher in a Montessori classroom, children choose their own lessons. Traditional classrooms rely on set curricula.

3. During a typical morning in a Montessori school, children work on their lessons at their own pace during a 3-hour-work cycle. In a traditional school, children are given set time for each lesson.

4. In a Montessori classroom, children can work independently or cooperatively. In a traditional program, children work alone, in most cases.

5. In Montessori, children are free to work where they want to work and they are free to move around and talk, if they don’t disturb others. In traditional programs, children must stay in assigned seats. Talking or interacting with others is often discouraged.

6. Montessori lessons incorporate hands-on materials that encourage exploration, facilitate learning, and build self-confidence. Lessons in traditional schools emphasize memorization and recitation.

7. Most Montessori programs have multi-age classrooms, where students can develop leadership skills and which encourage children to inspire, teach and learn from each other. In traditional schools, same age classrooms are common.

My son has many opportunities to learn about personal responsibility, even at his young age. At school, he is responsible for getting his own snack and drink, and cleaning up behind himself after his snack. A week ago, I noticed my son had spilled popcorn all over the living room floor. I asked him to grab the hand broom to clean up the mess, while secretly thinking he would not follow through with my direction. Fifteen minutes later, the popcorn was gone and he was emptying the dust bin in the trash can. Over the summer, if someone told me that he would clean up his own popcorn after being asked one time, I would not have believed them.

Another great aspect of most Montessori programs is the emphasis on parent education. If you believe the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” then Montessori may be right for you. Each morning that my son and I go to the school, I truly feel like we are entering our village. I feel this way because I have been encouraged to learn about Montessori and implement the process at home. I have given my son more responsibilities than what I could ever imagine giving a two-year-old.

I also feel this way because the teachers and staff at our Montessori school truly care not just about his intellectual development, but also about my son’s personal responsibility, self-confidence, emotional and physical development, and his ability to care about others. 

At two-and-a-half, my son is being prepared for the world. 

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About Annie

Annie Brown is a mother of her two-and-half-year old son. She grew up in Blount County, and attended Maryville College for a degree in Writing and Communications. Now, she resides in South Knoxville near Downtown and Ijams Nature Center. Recently, she began working as the administrative assistant at Knoxville Montessori School, between Sequoyah Hills and Bearden. She enjoys writing, cooking, being outdoors and raising her son.



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