Selecting the right school and education methodology for your child is a very important decision.  As parents, we are all crunched for time and can use a little help in understanding which teaching style is best for our children.  When the time comes to choose which school to select for your child, there are two main teaching methodologies to consider: Montessori Schooling or Traditional Schooling.

We get it; it can be difficult to really assess and evaluate the differences in Montessori schooling versus Traditional schooling in a thorough manner when you have so much information to consider from various sources.  Good research will require you to search on the internet, talk to family and friends or colleagues.  Once you have a few options to consider, you will then likely need to tour the short-listed school facilities, evaluate the curriculum, the structure, the environment and interview the teachers.  As you can see, this is not an easy decision and has a lot of factors to consider and that means there is a lot that can be missed.

However, the first thing you need to decide is which teaching style works best for your family and which one will give your little ones the environment and the head start to get ahead in life.  Therefore, to make sure that you are better informed when you go to visit schools, interview the teachers and evaluate the programs, we have created a detailed breakdown below comparing the Montessori Method to the Traditional Schooling Method and you can use this as a basic check when you start researching schools. Bookmark this blog post and make sure you read it before you visit schools to help ask informed questions and make the right decision for your family.

How to select the right teaching method for your child

1)      Learning Approach

Traditional schools begin preschool and Kindergarten years with play-based learning and as children progress to higher years, learning is reinforced through repetition, rewards, and punishments. In Traditional schools, the main mode of learning is generally auditory and visual, while the pace is kept the same for all children in the same year.

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Learning approaches

Montessori vs. Traditional schooling

On the other hand, the Montessori learning approach provides a well-rounded arena where not only educating and growing intellectually is a priority but physical, emotional and moral development is also front and center. Montessori learning is multi-sensory, i.e. visual, auditory and kinesthetic, meaning a wider range of children can benefit from these learning methods. Children also move at their own pace while learning and are encouraged to move forward by building their own internal sense of success as compared to only a grading system or rewards and punishments.  The Montessori approach also uses sets of dedicated materials such as objects, shapes, games to help the younger children in their learning journey.

2)      Structure

Traditional schooling depends on standardized curriculum and most children are fit into structured learning frameworks and generally required to complete school years within these frameworks. The Montessori approach treats each child as an individual, with individualistic learning needs. Hence, with the Montessori approach curriculums are personalized and the teacher is the helping guide that encourages growth and learning. This way each child can learn and grow independently without being forced to follow rigid structures that may not be suitable based on his or her learning requirements. The Montessori approach also provides a major focus on collaboration with peers of different ages and makes this collaboration a part of the learning process. Peer collaboration, especially between children of varying ages, is not a common practice in the Traditional schooling system.

3)      Age Groups

According to the requirements of the law in Canada – children must enroll in a school by the age of 5 or 6.  You can find out the exact details on the requirements to enroll your children for school on the Government of Canada Website.   However, in Traditional schools kindergarten can be started at age 4.   Before that, children either must go to daycare/preschool, stay at home with their guardian(s) or enroll in a Montessori school.  At Montessori schools, children as young as, or even younger than one year of age can enroll and start benefiting from the Montessori methods and techniques that teach them to become independent and confident at a very young age.  

 In Montessori, schooling for the child begins at an earlier age vs. traditional schools.

In Montessori, schooling for the child begins at an earlier age vs. traditional schools.

For example, Kaban Montessori School’s Infant and Toddler Program enrolls children between the ages of 6 months to 2.5 years. Given children can start so early in the Montessori program and are also allowed to experience mixed age groupings from the onset, this enables Montessori students to experience a more enriched environment compared to a Traditional school or Daycare. Generally, in Traditional pre-schools and elementary programs, each child is only placed in an environment with peers born in the same year. 

As mentioned above, peer collaboration is an important aspect of the Montessori approach. Children are allowed and able to mingle with peers of mixed ages, enabling the younger ones to learn from the older ones and giving the older children the confidence to peer mentor their younger classmates. This experience benefits both the younger and the older children by providing them the unique opportunity of learning and playing with classmates at different developmental stages.  This unique learning experience is not a part of the Traditional schooling system, where classmates are generally of the same age. Montessori is definitely unique in this area, as classmate can belong to varying age groups with potentially an age gap of up to three separate grades, and this method does not fit within the strict rigors of the Traditional schooling system and curriculum.

4)      Secondary Language

There have been countless studies done to show the positive effects of being multi-lingual for brain development.  Being multi-lingual also has a positive effect on maintaining a healthy brain for the later part of our lives; so giving our kids a head start is vital for longer-term health and development benefits as mentioned in this BBC Article, “Learning second language ‘slows brain ageing’”, where the research mentioned in this article was originally published in the Annals of Neurology. The Montessori approach at Kaban Montessori School provides an early start on developing secondary language skills. Children who are bilingual benefit not only cognitively i.e. better attention span and multi-tasking skills but also go on to have better social and career opportunities in the future.  Please take a look at this article published by the BBC News to further understand the positive effects of bilingualism in children.

The Montessori structure at Kaban Montessori School provides an environment which naturally helps children develop and integrate French and Spanish into their everyday lives. Kaban Montessori is unique in providing children an environment that allows for more than 2 languages to be taught as part of its curriculum.  Children are not just taught to read or understand the second languages on paper but learn how to use it in everyday life situations. Traditional schooling generally begins French schooling in Grade 4 and French Immersion schools begin at the Junior Kindergarten level. However, in our Montessori environment, we begin our French classes at the age of 3.               

5)      Approach to Discipline

In Traditional schools, discipline is attained through the teacher’s direction and with rewards and punishments.  This can be a hit or miss depending on your child’s personality and whether receiving punishments for undesired behavior truly helps your child learn and correct their behavior. However, the Montessori approach is more holistic, as it requires discipline to be attained through active participation and natural consequences of the child’s actions. Which means, your child will learn to see their own mistakes and the consequences without having a constant external source pointing out the undesired behaviors or mistakes. This way children move forward in their lives without expecting discipline to be continuously forced externally.  They truly learn how to manage their behavior based on the consequences of their actions.

6)      Approach to Manners

This area of focus is again unique to Montessori schools, as the Montessori environment enables children to develop self-disciplining skills, promotes social graces and manners at school and at home. In Traditional schools, manners and graces are generally not taught and students are expected to only learn these at home. Learning mannerism at schools enables our youth to excel in social situations and down the road in their professional lives as well. And besides social benefits, these skills make our children more empathic and kind community members.

7)      Error Handling Approach

Through Montessori learning, children are taught skills and given tools that help them develop an internal mechanism for handling errors and mistakes. Children use self-correcting materials which also promote self-discovery, correction, and independence. Traditional schooling depends on the teachers to highlight and bring forward errors and how to correct said errors, this approach does not promote independent learning and confidence.   

Key Takeaways

Here is a simple, but effective summary info-graphic to help you remember the above more easily as well:

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Conclusion

We know you want what is best for your child (we do as we are parents as well) and we want to help you make the best decision for your precious little ones.  Selecting the right school and teaching style is not easy and hopefully, the above detailed and high-level summaries will help you in your journey in finding the best school for your child.

For more information on what are the differences in teaching methods, please reach out and we will help in any way we can!  Good luck in finding the right school 😊!.