How We Differ from a Traditional Daycare and Kindergarten

How We Differ from a Traditional Daycare and Kindergarten

Parents of our students will tell you that the biggest difference between our school and a traditional daycare or kindergarten can be found in the light they see in their child’s eyes each day. This light is their child’s drive to learn and develop; it represents the key contrast between Montessori schools and traditional schools.

Both Montessori and traditional preschools have the same goal: to provide learning experiences for the child. The differences lie in the types of learning experiences each school provides and the methods they use to accomplish this goal. We believe these differences are crucial because they help shape how a child learns, whether they enjoy learning, and their future attitude towards themselves and the world around them.


Emphasis on cognitive structures and social development

Emphasis on rote knowledge and social development


Teacher has unobtrusive role in classroom activity; child is an active participant in learning

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


Environment and method encourage internal



Teacher acts as primary enforcer of external discipline

Instruction, both individual and group,

adapts to each student’s learning style


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

Mixed age grouping 


Same age grouping

Children are encouraged to teach, collaborated, and help each other


Most teaching is done by teacher and collaboration is discouraged

Child chooses own work from interests

and abilities


Curriculum structured for child with little regard for child’s interests

Child formulates own concepts from

self-teaching materials

Child is guided to concepts by teacher


Child works as long as s/he wishes on chosen project

Child generally given specific time limit for work


Child sets own learning pace to internalize information


Instruction pace usually set by group norm or teacher

Child spots own errors through feedback

from the material

If work is corrected, errors usually pointed out by teacher


Learning is reinforced internally through the child’s own repetition of an activity and internal feelings of success

Learning is reinforced externally by rote repetition and rewards/discouragements


Multi-sensory materials for physical exploration


Fewer materials for sensory development and concrete manipulation

Organized program for learning care of self and environment (polishing shoes, cleaning the sink, etc.)


Less emphasis on self-care instruction and classroom maintenance 

Child can work where s/he is comfortable; moves around and talks at will (without disturbing the work of  others) group work is voluntary and negotiable


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


Organized program for parents to understand the Montessori philosophy and participate in the learning process

Voluntary parent involvement, often only as fundraisers, not participants in understanding the learning process