Child sets own learning pace to internalize information

Child works as long as he or she wishes on chosen project

Child formulates own concepts from self teaching materials

Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom activities: child is an active participant in learning

Child chooses own work from interest and abilities

Mixed age grouping

Children are  encouraged to teach, collaborate and help each other

Child can work where he or she is comfortable, moves around and talks at will (yet disturbs not the work of others); group work is voluntary and negotiable

Child spots own errors through feedback from material

Learning is reinforced internally through a repetition of activity and internal feelings of success

Instruction both individual and group, adapts to each child’s learning style

Environment and method encourage internal self discipline

Emphasis on cognitive structure and social development

Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration

Organized program for learning care of self and environment (brushing teeth, washing dishes after eating, responsible for keeping classroom clean, etc.)

Parental involvement and understanding Montessori learning philosophy encouraged and offered


Instruction pace usually set by group norm or teacher

Child generally given specific time period for work

Child is guided to concepts by teacher

Teacher has dominant, active role in classroom activity: child is a passive participant in learning

Curriculum structured for children with little regard to child’s interest

Same age grouping 

Most teaching is done by teacher and collaboration is discouraged

Child usually assigned own chair; encouraged to sit still and listen during group sessions

If work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher

Learning is reinforced externally by rote repetition and rewards/discouragements.

Instruction both individual and group conforms to adult’s teaching style

Teacher acts as enforcer of discipline

Emphasis on rote knowledge and social development

Fewer materials for sensory development and concrete manipulation

Less emphasis on self care instruction and  classroom maintenance

Parental involvement minimal at outside events like fundraisers and no effort placed on parental understanding of learning process.

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