- Mixed age classrooms
- Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options
- Uninterrupted blocks of work time, ideally three hours
- A constructivist or "discovery" model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction
- Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators
- Freedom of movement within the classroom
- A trained Montessori teacher
However, there is an alternate education system that is competing for popularity with Montessori Schools. This is the Waldorf schools. Waldorf (Steiner) education is a humanistic and holistic approach to pedagogy based on the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Waldorf pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning and aims to integrate intellectual, practical, and artistic approaches to the curriculum. Especially for younger children, qualitative methods of assessment are preferred over quantitative and summative methods. Individual teachers and schools have a great deal of autonomy in determining curriculum content, teaching methodology and governance. The Waldorf method uses a play-centered approach. There is emphasis on singing, fantasy, and in short, play activities. There are no desks so the students feel like they are at home as opposed to in an academic environment. That is, until the students begin their academic classes at the age of seven. Also, up to this point the students are not given homework or tests because Waldorf does not follow the traditional grading system.
Waldorf Schools or Montessori schools?
The students who attend Waldorf schools do not begin academic learning until much later than those who are in Montessori schools. The students who attend Waldorf begin their academic learning when they are seven years old. The philosophy behind this is that traditional learning is often thought of as boring. Children should be able to be children and the learning can be put off as long as possible. They generally spend their time in play with make-believe stories and fairy tales. The students in Montessori schools are given the option of playing or learning how to take care of themselves and others by learning skills such as cooking and cleaning. It is found that when they are given the option, they will choose real work over play almost every time.
Montessori Home Preschooling?
Developed from key principals of Dr. Maria Montessori, this style of teaching and learning aims at duplicating natural laws that a child faces in real life. Thus the aim of the parent is to guild the environment and not the child. It is observed that children who are left free to interact with their natural environment developed an innate self-discipline, love for order and natural curiosity.
The Montessori method of teaching is especially suitable to the
preschoolers who wants to do everything by himself. Finding ways in which your child can participate in the cleaning, washing,
cooking, gardening and other 'adult' activities sets the perfect
backdrop for the learning experience. By providing such
opportunities for independence, the child's self-esteem also gets
a huge boost.
Artistic, cultural and scientific activities abound in the Montessori Preschool with 3-6 year olds. There is no TV, junk food, or computer. Education material are selected carefully. The child is never forced to work. Instead, he is encouraged to do things that interest him, and the parent picks up the teaching from cues given by the child.
At Waldorf schools the students stay with other children their age. They have the same teacher from the time they are in kindergarten up until when they are in eighth grade. This gives the teacher time to know the students and teach them how they learn best. It is not until the students are learning their academic areas that they are in desks with the teacher lecturing. This helps to separate play time from learning time because the environment changes. In Montessori schools, the children are not grouped by age. Instead, they are grouped in age ranges such as 3-6 years old. The teacher gives the lesson to the students individually and then the students teach each other. The students are given the choice of what to work on or study so they are in control of their learning.
Fantasy and imagination are crucial to the Waldorf philosophy. This philosophy views play as integral to the learning process. In the early years, the teachers incorporate song and fantasy as often as possible. The Montessori schools believe that fantasy and imagination are very important to the creative process, but they do not put as much emphasis on it as Waldorf schools do. On the contrary, they introduce the students to the real world and how to navigate through it with a creative and open mind.
Yes, Waldorf schools and Montessori schools are very similar. Both of the schools put emphasis on teaching the whole child. The Waldorf philosophy is more focused on play and making learning fun where the Montessori philosophy is focused on directing students to make better choices when it comes to their education. Parents know their children better than anyone and should send them where they think they will be the most successful. Children learn in different ways. Some environments would be good for your child and you would see them thrive. However, the same environment could also cause your child to fall behind.